IT’S BIG, FILLS up the whole poppy seed bun, and has a mouthwatering savory scent. It’s ever so slightly charred and when you bite in and get a dose of that umami flavor, the red juices come trickling out. It’s delicious, it’s healthy, it’s a burger, and it’s not meat. Meat alterna- tives have come a long way from the bland bricks of waterlogged tofu in the deli section. With today’s nutritionally savvy consumers and growing concern about the future of the planet,
the food industry has revolutionized its relationship with “alternative” proteins.
According to a 2017 New York Times article, the average American daily consumes about 100
grams of protein (about twice the recommended amount), much of it from meat eaten in almost
every meal. And while global movements like “meatless Mondays” have caught on, the time is
clearly ripe for less resource-depleting protein sources, particularly as the world population
continues to rise.
Luckily, today’s vegetarians are no longer limited to pasta, grilled cheese or a “stupid eggplant
sandwich,” as an Ike’s Place sandwich shop menu jokingly says. In the past 20 years, companies
like Morningstar Farms have introduced veggie corn dogs and sausage patties to grocery store
freezers. Faux meat options are in a new league of their own, graduating from frozen garden-nothing-burger to “I want this” status.
Since 2009, Beyond Meat, based in the L. A. suburb El Segundo, has marketed meat-like foods
while eluding some of the downsides of meat industry production. The products have sold well
enough at stores like Safeway and Whole Foods to cross over to restaurants: TGI Fridays is set to
A new crop of faux-meat
proteins is on the menu —and
they taste better than ever.
BY KASIA PAWLOWSKA
FYI / In Marin
Burger patty comes
in at about the same
calorie count (220)
as beef but with less
fat. Protein and iron
are comparable to
what’s found in an
80/20 beef patty.