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Grocery News Packaged Food Plant-Based

It’s Official: Impossible Burgers Will Debut In Grocery Stores Next Year

Ever since the plant-based, “bleeding” Impossible Burger debuted a few years ago, customers have been clamoring for the chance to play with it themselves, at home. We finally have a solid timetable on when that will be possible.

Photo: Isai Rocha // Foodbeast

Impossible Foods has confirmed that in 2019, they will be launching their plant-based meat in grocery stores.

The company isn’t providing any other details at this time, so we’re not sure how it will be sold.

Currently, vegan burger purveyor Beyond Beef sells their meat in two-patty packages for grocery, but it’s unknown if Impossible Foods will take a similar approach.

The burgers have exploded on the scene since their debut, with availability currently expanded to about 5,000 restaurants globally with over 13 million consumed to date. That puts the company’s product on reach with that of some major fast food chains.

With the release to grocery next year, Impossible Foods believes that it can eliminate the need for animals in food production by 2035. It’s a bold claim, but considering that estimates say meat production will be unsustainable by 2050, that’s good news for the future of food, and the planet.

An Impossible Foods representative has said that more news will be coming in the next few months, so a concrete final launch date could be announced within that time span.

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Plant-Based Restaurants Video

The Luxurious Seafood Tower Gets A Plant-Based Spin In Hollywood

Intricate seafood towers are the first portrait my mind paints when thinking of foods served in the lap of luxury. The grandiose culinary spectacle has long been the territory of high-end steakhouses and raw bars. Thus, as many living the high life have moved towards vegan lifestyles, this extravaganza has traveled with them.

At Crossroads Kitchen in West Hollywood, a limited edition plant-based Seafood Tower has been quietly gracing the menu. The brainchild of owner Tal Ronnen and executive chef Scot Jones, the two culinary geniuses have tinkered with plants and fungi to get them to taste just like seafood.

To be honest, you wouldn’t expect anything less from a restaurant as gifted in vegan transformations as Crossroads. Since its opening in 2013, Ronnen and Jones’s establishment has been the talk of the town because of how they make plants taste like seafood. They are famous for signature dishes like their hearts of palm “Crab Cakes” and “Artichoke Oysters.”

For the plant-based Seafood Tower, Jones and Ronnen have produced a plethora of vegetables that mimic seafood on taste and aroma. On the top “hot food” layer you’ll find calamari, Clams Casino, Oysters Rockefeller, and shrimp cocktail. Underneath that is a “cold dishes” platter of smoked salmon mousse on bread, ceviche, and tequila oyster shooters.

On some of these items, the secret to their flavor is what they’re cooked in. Chef Jones explained that kombu (a type of Japanese seaweed) is a key component, as it provides the briny, salty aroma you associate with the sea. Chef Ronnen added on that because a lot of sea creatures eat seaweed, the flavor association between the animal and what they eat is pretty strong.

As for the plants, each one contributes something different in terms of texture and flavor. For the “calamari,” cooked hearts of palm separates into rings that emulate a perfectly cooked squid’s supple bite. The slight crunchy resistance of lychee can easily be mistaken for raw fish in Crossroad’s take on ceviche. When it comes to the “oysters,” the shiitake mushroom makes for a great slippery substitute.

lobster mushroom

The shrimp cocktail uses one of the most exciting natural seafood replicas out there: the lobster mushroom. A hyper-seasonal fungi that grows in forests, it’s actually a parasitic relationship between a mushroom and a mold that results in this characteristic oceanic aroma and vibrant pink hue. Chef Jones brought a couple of whole ones out for us to experience, and the mimicry was truly mind-blowing.

Of course, the biggest challenge is getting everything to 100 percent resemble what seafood is. Since Crossroads relies on vegetables and fungi, the texture isn’t always quite there, but the flavor is spot on. For Foodbeast’s own Oscar Gonzalez, a pescatarian, he saw it as a great introduction to the world of vegetarian cuisine. “The flavors were there,” he explained, “and even though the texture was slightly off, I could live with that.”

 

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According to Chef Jones, this is Crossroads’ primary goal in creating these plant-based replicas. By showing omnivorous and carnivorous eaters that getting a similar  sensory experience to their meaty favorites is possible with plants, it makes them more willing to eat foods that are more sustainable for the planet.

The Seafood Tower will be on Crossroads’ menu as long as the lobster mushrooms are in season. This is typically through late October to early November, but could be longer based on availability. You can find it as a limited special during dinner services on Fridays and Saturdays through that time period.

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Drinks Fast Food

Starbucks Just Launched A Protein Cold Brew That’s Entirely Plant-Based

It appears Starbucks is trying to help you with those gains, as the coffee chain just released a duo of protein-packed cold brew slushes nationwide. The two new flavors are the Almond Protein Blended Cold Brew and the Cacao Protein Cold Brew.

Starbucks’ Almond Protein Cold Brew boasts a blend of the chain’s slow-steeped cold brew along withe Almond milk, plant-based protein, almond butter, and a banana date fruit blend over ice.

The Cacao Protein Blended Cold Brew features cacao powder, cold brew coffee, coconut milk, plant-based protein, and a banana date fruit blend over ice.

Each beverage has about 10-12 grams of pea and brown rice protein.

Photo Courtesy of Starbucks

I grabbed a couple from the Starbucks next door for my fellow coworkers to sip on.

“I think it’s a tastier, pricier alternative to post-workout protein mixes, which can be incredibly bitter and often taste very much like the flavoring agents they use,” said Constatine Spyrou. “This tastes clean, natural, and less bitter.”

He also added that he’d be happy swapping out protein powders at the gym for one of these post-workout, he’d just rather the beverage had double the amount of protein offered.

“It tasted like a reduced sugar banana shake,” said Ricky Zollinger, video producer and all around buff guy. “If I were to drink it, I would probably do it before a workout. Banana is a good source of energy and would also wake me up.”

Those who aren’t familiar with the taste of protein shakes may be surprised by the initial bitterness behind the beverage. Myself, the taste of the almond flavor definitely took me by surprise, but quickly grew on me the more I tried it.

Starbucks says the drinks will only be available for a limited time while supplies last. This will probably one of the final menu additions before the return of Pumpkin Spice items.

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Health News

France Bans Vegans From Calling Meat Alternatives ‘Meat,’ What It Means For America

If you ever look in the comment section of anything relating to plant-based food, you’ll find a smug dude who always says something along the lines of, “If vegans hate meat, why do they still call their foods “meat.”‘

Well, it looks like France kind of agrees with that notion, to a degree, as The French National Assembly decided that using meat-based names for plant-based products can be misleading to the consumer.

That means that any plant-based “meats,” can no longer be marketed or associated as “steak, filet, bacon, or sausage.” That also includes saying that a product has, for example, “bacon taste.”

The official letter of the law states (translated from French), “Names associated with products of animal origin may not be used to market food products containing a significant proportion of plant-based materials.”

If you think something like that could never happen in the U.S., it has been attempted — as recent as 2017 with the DAIRY PRIDE Act.

Believe it or not, DAIRY PRIDE is actually a ridiculously long acronym for, “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese To Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act.”

The act is currently being held up in Congress, but if it did pass, it would mean the end of terms such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or even peanut butter.

The DAIRY PRIDE Act actually held the same argument that these foods confuse consumers.

Not sure how much harm the “confusion” would have on consumers, but the meat industry can’t be too excited about the growing trends in plant based meat alternatives.

The Impossible Burger has been one of the most hyped plant-based meat products, and has already found itself being popular in burger chains such as Umami Burger, Fatburger, and even White Castle.

It was just reported that up-and-coming Don Lee Burgers have sold over 1 million units at Costco in three months.

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With that type of hype around these veggie burgers, there’s reason to believe that meat industries are at least paying attention.

If the DAIRY PRIDE Act and France’s ban aren’t enough proof that there is opposition to the plant-based movement, in 2017, the FDA put a temporary halt on the Impossible Burger being sold in U.S. grocery stores. as they failed to recognize its leghemoglobin ingredient as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). It’s still OK to serve in restaurants, though.

France’s decision to ban those familiar terms does shake up the food industry, and puts plant-based companies on alert.

While it would be surprising to see something like that in the U.S., it has been attempted, and with meat industries that have built the fabric of our diets, you never know if that kind of power can change the course of how plant-based foods are marketed in the future.

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Packaged Food

We Tried These Vegan Frozen Burritos And They Were Surprisingly Delicious

My diet throughout high school consisted of frozen burritos and Cactus Cooler. While frozen burritos are still very much part of my adult diet, going in on all that meat and cheese more than once a week really weighs down on a person.

At ExpoWest, we discovered Alpha Foods‘ vegan burritos.

The burritos are made with 100 percent plant-based proteins that’s completely vegan. Available in four flavors (Mexicali, Philly Sandwich, Chick’n Fajita, and Pizza), each burrito is high in plant protein, cholesterol free, and non-GMO.

A completely vegan alternative for the meaty burritos we once would dig out of the freezer aisle, Alpha burritos piqued our curiosity, as some of us are now trying to stick to more plant-based consumption.

We tried some at the Foodbeast office and here’s what some of the team had to say about the Alpha burritos.

Constantine:

I was genuinely surprised, I didn’t expect the flavors to get that close to real pizza and Philly cheesesteak. When it came to the Philly cheesesteaks, the flavors were spot on but I could kinda tell it was vegan.

Rishu:

Didn’t taste like a Philly cheesteak, but the flavors and the texture were good enough to make me want more. Lighter than what I expected, and had a good fresh kick to it.

Isai:

I’d fuck with this if I were vegan. It didn’t exactly scream ‘Philly Cheesesteak’ to me, but the flavor was still good.

Evan:

It was good, surprised it was vegan. It was also heartier than I anticipated. I only ate half of one and I’m pretty content.

As far as frozen burritos go, the consensus seemed to be that they tasted pretty good. Sure, some of us were able to tell they were vegan, but if you’re trying to stick to a plant-based lifestyle, Alpha Foods might just be what you need to recapture the flavor of regular meat and cheese-based burritos.

You can find the nearest grocery retailer that carries the Alpha burritos here.

Categories
Culture Health News

Study Says That Most Vegetarians And Vegans Eventually Go Back To Eating Meat

Ever gone vegetarian or vegan for a while, only to go back to eating meat? Don’t worry, it happens to a lot of other people too.

The Humane Research Council just published a study analyzing vegetarian and vegan diets of over 11,000 participants. Part of that study included understanding the behavior of people who revert back to omnivorous or carnivorous diets. In their study, they found that 84% of non-meat eaters eventually revert back to consuming animal products.

Granted, the meat-free populations of the United States are a small minority, with only 2% currently being vegetarian or fully plant-based. Apparently, 10% of us also are former vegetarians and vegans. More than half of those who went back to eating meat did so within the first year of abstaining from animals.

Why was this the case? The study suggested that health as the only motivator to vegetarian or vegan wasn’t enough, as 58% of people who stated that was the case switched back. Current vegetarians and vegans have multiple motivators, including health, environmental well-being, and animal welfare.

Additionally, relationships could be a factor. A third of all former vegetarians that lived with a meat-eating partner eventually returned to eating meat as well.

The culture and challenges around non-meat diets was also brought up as a reason, with 60% of former vegetarians/vegans hating that they “stuck out” because of their diet, while half found it too difficult to have a purely meat or animal-free lifestyle.

However, this isn’t an indicator that people don’t want to try vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. Nearly two thirds of Americans have tried plant-based foods already, and a third would likely incorporate plant-based foods into their diet.

So while we don’t want to go full vegan or vegetarian, we are open to including some of those foods in our diet.

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Culture Drinks Opinion Products

The DAIRY PRIDE Act Is Poorly Written, Big Dairy Propaganda

A couple of months ago, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the “DAIRY PRIDE” Act into Congress. The bill, now in committee, aims to cut the legs out of the rapidly growing plant-based industry by preventing items like almond milk, soymilk, or cashew cheese from using dairy-related names.

However, the DAIRY PRIDE act is a poorly constructed bill that takes down swaths of other products alongside plant-based dairy and may even be unconstitutional in the first place, all while doing nothing to help the milk industry recover sales numbers, which is the whole aim of writing and introducing this bill in the first place.

The milk industry has been on a long trend of decline over the past 30 years. According to the Journal Sentinel, milk consumption has now fallen to 50% as sales tumbled over the past three decades. Following an increase in milk production due to shortages in the supply two years ago, massive excesses of milk now exist. The Wall Street Journal reports that this has led to a 36% drop in milk prices since 2014 and has forced farmers to dump over 43 million gallons of milk that they were unable to sell off last year.

Big milk would like to see that milk be sold rather than discarded, but consumers aren’t buying milk as much as they used to. So far, they’ve been able to work with the food industry to create cheesier products to use up some of the surplus, but it hasn’t been enough to prevent that milk from being lost.

To recover sales and prevent more milk dumping, big dairy needed to do something drastic. With plant-based dairy rapidly growing and eclipsing $5 billion in market value for the first time, it’s become a target for the milk industry. A bill like this is definitely a welcome boon to the dairy industry as a result.

However, there are a plethora of issues that this bill has that make it ineffective, weak, and possibly unconstitutional.

The bill cites the FDA definition of milk, unchanged since 1938, that is specific to only cows.

“Milk is the lactereal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”

The DAIRY PRIDE Act aims to strictly enforce this definition. In doing so, plant-based dairy isn’t the only product category that has to change names. Peanut butter and goat cheese would both have to change names to be called something like “Peanut paste” or “goat curds.” Yum.

The bill does get more specific, however, when it targets plant-based dairy multiple times in the opening section of the act, directly calling out plant-based dairy labels as being “misleading to consumers.”

Their reason?

“Imitation dairy products, such as plant-based products derived from rice, nuts, soybeans, hemp, coconut, algae, and other foods that imitate milk, yogurt, and cheese, often do not provide the same nutrition content as real milk, cheese, and yogurt derived from dairy cows.”

As such, the act specifically goes after the plant-based industry and specifically calls them out in the act as “confusing” customers when it clearly doesn’t. We know that soy milk is soy and almond milk is almonds, and to anyone who says consumers can’t read a nutrition label is underestimating the intelligence of consumers. Almond-derived juice would be the basic alternative name, which just sounds… weird. That’s what proponents of the DAIRY PRIDE Act want, though, since it doesn’t sound as appealing. Removing the label doesn’t benefit consumers who are used to the name to begin with.

What’s more, the DAIRY PRIDE Act isn’t just misleading on its own, it may also be unconstitutional. The Good Food Institute wrote a public statement condemning the DAIRY PRIDE Act as “pandering to the dairy industry” through censorship.

“The government is only allowed to restrict commercial free speech if there is substantial government interest in doing so. Simply pandering to the dairy industry does not qualify as a good reason, therefore this legislation would be in violation of the First Amendment.”

Basically, Congress has a choice: pass this law and kill a rapidly growing and innovative industry in a feeble attempt to preserve the death of an already declining one, or leave the law be. If the DAIRY PRIDE act is dropped, plant-based dairy will be allowed to thrive while milk sales would continue to drop, which means farmers just need to produce less milk. They can sell the beef or switch to alternatives.

There is no substantial government interest in enforcing this rule because it does nothing to save the milk industry and is honestly just blatant censorship.

If Congress wants to avoid a meaningless legal battle and prevent their public perception of corruption to fester even more, they should not let this bill leave committee.