Israeli startup Redefine Meat thinks it’s figured it out how to convince meat-eaters to switch to meat alternatives. The company has developed a unique technology that allows them to create realistic whole cuts of plant-based meat.
Redefine Meat developed 3D printers the size of an industrial refrigerator to print plant-based steaks. The printers replicate meat by printing layers of what they call “alt-muscle,” “alt-fat,” and “alt-blood,” creating a 3D model.
“Real meat is an extremely complicated product, where much of the sensory experience comes from the matrix,” says co-founder and CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit. “Meat is not just proteins, fats, and water. . . . Beef, especially, is a product that has been ‘built’ for years by the cow.”
The company will be selling the printers to restaurants, which can then tailor the recipe according to their needs at zero cost and no complexity.
“We can use a 3D model of an entirely different meat product with the same machine, process, and ingredients, whereas traditional food production technologies have to change entire formulations. We can also iterate a steak to be softer, harder, juicier with less fat, and much more—all with a simple click of a button,” he said.
The startup has been working with chefs, food engineers and taste experts to perfectly recreate the texture and flavour of real meat.
“We are working on recreating the entire range of meat products coming from animals,” says Ben-Shitrit. “However, steak is the strongest and most meaningful symbol of what is ‘meat.’ It’s also the most challenging product from a technical perspective. Not only does it have a very unique structure, texture, and flavour but from a culinary perspective, it doesn’t have a bun or lots of covering elements to mask the sensory experience—it’s usually cooked very simply.”
The company says their printed plant-based meat cuts should be more affordable than a cow in the future and they are better for the planet.
The alt steak uses 90% less water and 95% less land, and emits 90% less carbon dioxide, than meat from a cow. It is also healthier, contains less fat than meat and no cholesterol, but more fibre and the same amount of protein.
The company wants to start testing the printers at restaurants later this year aiming to accelerate the transformation in the food industry.
“We believe in the next 20 years we’ll see a massive shift towards replacing animals in the food supply chain. It will happen in eggs, dairy, and meat, but the biggest problem is no doubt meat,” Ben-Shitrit said.
“One hundred years from now, our great-grandkids will find it shocking that we needed to raise and kill animals for food.”