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Biotech

Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test 466

Posted by samzenpus
from the now-with-more-vitamin-M dept.
assertation (1255714) writes "Bill Gates and the founders of Twitter are betting millions that meat lovers will embrace a new plant-based product that mimics the taste of chicken and beef. Meat substitutes have had a hard time making it to the dinner tables of Americans over the years, but the tech giants believe these newest products will pass the "tastes like chicken" test. Gates has met several times with Ethan Brown, whose product, Beyond Meat, is a mash-up of proteins from peas and plants."
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Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:58PM (#46853899)

    "The difficulty now comes in finding a way to convince carnivores to switch."

    If it tastes like meat, smells like meat, and looks like meat, then I won't refuse it on principle. How do you get me to switch? Make it cheaper than real meat.

  • by teslabox (2790587) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:02PM (#46853925) Homepage

    It's not enough to industrialize agriculture, now they want to trick us with fake food.

    Cows graze around boulders and on slopes, where tractors can't work. They cannot be effectively replaced. (Feeding cows corn & soybean meal is rather foolish, and is the real problem here.)

  • This will backfire (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hessian (467078) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:20PM (#46854041) Homepage Journal

    Grand liberal vision:

    We stop eating meat, everyone has more to eat.

    Actuality:

    We stop eating meat, people breed until the damage is equivalent to what we're doing now.

  • Re:But the price? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:26PM (#46854079) Homepage
    a pound of ground beef (16 OZ 90%) is under 4.50 as I write this in my local store. Also chicken breasts are going for 2.99$ a pound. Im not going to spend more money for less of a product, that is not even real meat
  • by The123king (2395060) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:29PM (#46854089)
    I don't know... If everyone in the world switched from eating meat to eating vegan substitutes (which is more environmentally friendly), you're going to end up with a massive animal welfare crisis on your hands. All those cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc are no longer going to be wanted by mankind. What this means is many thousands of years worth of natural and artificial selection will be wasted, most animals domesticated for meat will die out, and us as humans will lose a large chunk of what makes us "human".

    TL;DR good for environment, not so good for the billions of animals domesticated for meat.
  • by Khashishi (775369) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:35PM (#46854123) Journal

    I tried it. The texture and protein feel matches lean chicken or turkey reasonably well. But the fat flavor is missing. This is a general observation I have with all the faux meats. They simulate really lean cuts, but all the flavor comes from the fat, which is missing. It's probably the case that recreating the fat of meat is more difficult than creating the protein. This is a challenge to the manufacturers out there.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:37PM (#46854135) Homepage

    After a long history of failures, from Hamburger Helper to VitaPro, this stuff apparently tastes more or less like processed chicken. It's sold at Whole Foods. It's not cheap. Chicken tends to be chopped up and extruded anyway. ("McNuggets"). Matching the taste of breaded chicken nuggets seems do-able.

    Nutrition is an issue. The nutritional composition of this is entirely determined by the manufacturer. The mix of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is a manufacturer choice. There are few standards on the required nutritional value for human food products. Most concerns about food safety involve excluding undesired or toxic components. It's quite possible to sell something that tastes like meat, is harmless, but has little nutritional value.

  • Re:why copy meat? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:44PM (#46854173)

    I'll never understand. For some reason some people apparently don't want to eat meat, but they want to eat a bad imitation of it.
    It's like diet coke. If you want to lose weight, drink some water. If you like the taste of diet coke better, you are a weirdo, but at least I can respect that.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:47PM (#46854193)

    I don't get the fixation people have with 'tastes like meat' (actually the texture is the tricky part, taste is rather easy). If you actually learn to cook reasonably well then meat dishes actually aren't the most fantastic things around....Almost any garden variety restaurant in China can make you a dish that usually can't be distinguished from a meat dish, and if I wish I can make several of them myself. OTOH there are plenty of other ways to enjoy your vegetables more.

    Show me a vegetable dish with the flavor and texture of a nice medium rare filet mignon, or a slab of prime rib medium with au jus, and I will switch. Until then, I am keeping my meat.

  • Re:But the price? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:53PM (#46854221)

    Recently I bought a 6 lb package of 88% ground beef at Costco for less than $18.

    $5.27 for 12 oz is double what I'm paying for beef.

    I'm all in favor of reducing meat consumption but not at the price of doubling my food budget.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:56PM (#46854235)

    How it got that way is that meat is tasty and provides a lot of energy. People are so fervently against giving up meat because the substitutes that have been put forth (tofu, soy) generally suck in most forms people consume them in. Yes you can kind of make Tofu tasty with some work (though personally I've never had tofu elevated beyond "edible"), but you have to do nothing to a chicken breast to make it tasty other than cook it.

    If this mean substitute is actually tasty and the texture is not horrifically awful (most of the supposed meat substitutes ignore that aspect) then in fact a lot of people probably would be OK using it.

    Your main problem, as with so many other things in ilife. will be environmentalists since it's not "natural".

  • by Slugster (635830) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:33PM (#46854443)

    If it tastes like meat, smells like meat, and looks like meat, then I won't refuse it on principle.

    I would. "Carbs that taste like meat" is still carbs.

    A few years back I tried eating low-carb out of curiosity (that is--high meat & fats). Best thing I ever did, and the regular medical checkups I get reflect that. It may not be what the AMA advises, but 5000 years of Eskimos trumps whatever the committee opinion is this year.

    Besides, they could make the carb-meat "cheaper" just by placing a ridiculous tax on the real stuff.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:14PM (#46854657)
    Well, but it's vegetable protein, not vegetable carbohydrates. That doesn't as such mean they are good at getting all the pea starches out...but let's look at their packaging (assuming they're not committing fraud)

    For an 85g (3oz) serving of Beyond Meat "chicken" strips, the macros are: 3g fat, 20g protein, 6g carbs, 2g fiber.

    For 85g of cooked chicken breast (grilled) the macros are: 2-3g fat, 19-21g protein, 1-2g carbs, 0g fiber.

    So 4g net carbs vs 1g net carbs. Even on Keto I wouldn't worry too much about the difference. Overall the macro balance is quite close to chicken breast. They also appear to have more iron than real chicken by a lot (20% RDI vs 3-6%). More than steak, even (~15%).
  • by afgam28 (48611) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:54PM (#46854895)

    A good steak really is an amazing thing, and no meat substitute is likely to replace it. A fake meat product that is made from "peas and plants" doesn't sound anywhere near as nice as a rare filet mignon, but it still sounds a lot better than mechanically separated pink slime and the mystery meats that fast food restaurants put in burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc.

    It's still early days and I'm sure this Beyond Meat product will get cheaper, to the point where this could replace the low-grade meat that is so common in the food industry. This would be a massive win in terms of animal welfare, sustainability, nutrition and maybe even cost to consumers.

    I suspect that a lot of people would prefer vegetables that have most of the taste, texture and protein of meat, rather than food that is grown in horrific conditions but technically meets the definition of meat despite being quite different nutritionally.

  • by x0ra (1249540) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:01PM (#46855235)
    If I cannot buy meat, I'll hunt it, or raise it (and kill it) myself. Try to stop me, and you'll get a civil war between rural & urban people.
  • Re:But the price? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khashishi (775369) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:17PM (#46855297) Journal

    1. Transportation, packaging, and stocking costs are large for vegetables in cities. Usually, frozen, canned, or otherwise processed vegetables are cheaper than fresh vegetables in the supermarket because you have to take into account transportation and waste.
    2. Subsidies for farm animals, corn, and soy.
    3. Some of what is fed to farm animals is not considered fit for human consumption.
    4. High concentration animal agriculture is quite an efficient machine.
    5. People are picky with produce. You see a shelf of vegetables and you pick through it for the best piece, because it all costs the same anyways. With meat, it's a hunk of unidentifiable flesh in a package--it's all the same since you can't easily tell the difference.

  • Re:But the price? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:37PM (#46855391) Journal

    It's the fat that tastes good, not the meat. Go make a burger from fatless steak tartar and prepare to gag. No cheating with mayo or cheese.

    Why do you think a filet mignon has bacon around it, or bleu cheese or a cream sauce on it? Bogue without...even flawlessly medium rare.

    A veggie patty with some good animal fat substitute is the way to go.

  • by Radtastic (671622) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:32PM (#46855649)
    Artificial meat is going to happen at some point, well before it can surpass the filet mignon or prime rib. Right now, it just needs to be better and cheaper than Meat Slurry [wikipedia.org] , then, market forces will accelerate the quality.

    Trust me on this, the bar is set pretty low for it to succeed.
  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:08PM (#46855799)

    This totally misses the point. I, and many people, do not want factory produced food. I want food I can replicate without high technology. I can grow plants, fruit, nuts and MEAT out in my fields. Meat is easy to produce. I have pastures. The sun shines on them. The rain falls. The forages grow. My pigs, chicken, ducks, sheep and geese eat the plants (and bugs). I eat the animals (and plants). It works. It's easy. It's reliable. It's sustainable.

    My way does not require electricity, high technology, a laboratory or shipments of chemicals from distant locations.

    What the factory farmed methods, be they CAFO or huge grain fields, does is to concentrate the power and wealth into the hands of the few resulting in a fragile, brittle system that can easily fail or be attacked and controlled by hostile forces.

    Bill Gates Meatless Meat is a total fail.

    I'll stick to real meat.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:33PM (#46856391)

    I agree that veggie dishes can be tasty. I even thing that, because of my wife's belief that all "real" meals must contain meat, I personally eat way too much of it. I've had some vegetarian Indian dishes that blew me away.

    But bacon is good. Steak is good. Burgers are good. No one needs these things, of course, but you can't deny that these things are delicious to a whole lot of people.

    If we expand to animal products, you would destroy some of my very favorite meals - my absolute favorite breakfast is two eggs, sunny side up, home fries, side of bacon and rye toast with a coffee and OJ. Bacon, butter, and eggs.

    Cost: Americans spend less on their food than just about any other country on the planet. Cost is not an issue.
    Health: Most of us would probably get more bang for our buck by exercising, cutting out processed foods, and putting down the booze.
    Sustainability: As an individual, any choice I make will affect everyone else - but not in the way you think. I cut out meat, it just gets slightly cheaper for those who do not. Perhaps if we had some kind of collective action it would be effective, but this individual stuff is just feel-good nonsense.
    Ethical: I hear you guys. The arguments are sound and rational, but ultimately appeal to emotions. They just do nothing for me. I'm just not very empathetic of livestock. To me, eating a cow is no different emotionally than killing a house mouse. Maybe better, since I'm actually using the cow.

    have yet to meet a person who switched and didn't FEEL much better afterwards.

    I find this to be true of any choice people make. Otherwise their choice would be a poor one and they would feel stupid. Basic human nature.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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