‘Existential crisis’: What you need to know about $6b vegan ‘meat’ industry

‘Existential crisis’: What you need to know about $6b vegan ‘meat’ industry:
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 But it’s Silicon Valley that’s really driving the shift, drawing on California’s obsession with a healthy and environmentally friendly diet. While many vegans favour unprocessed vegetables over meat substitutes, those who love the taste and texture of the real thing are demanding something that works for them. And not everyone is using protest to change habits. Entrepreneurs have been busy developing the most convincing replacements technology can achieve in a burgeoning industry that’s set to be worth $6 billion by 2023. New Zealand-based Shama Shukul Lee had a successful career as a software engineer when she had a “existential crisis” and decided she needed to change paths. “I was feeling really unfulfilled, and so much so that I couldn’t get up and go to work,” she told news.com.au. “I wasn’t doing what gave me meaning.” She recently opted to cut out meat to improve her health, protect the environment and support animal welfare, but she found it a challenge. “I was a huge meat eater, I grew up eating meat,” said Ms Shukul Lee. “When I gave it up, I really struggled. I relapsed a few times. “I was not very well versed in eating other kinds of foods because I think eating meat makes you lazy. You have to figure out what food to eat, I was completely ignorant.” ENGINEERING MEAT She established Sunfed Foods, raised $10 million in funding and gathered a group of engineers to help her manufacture a product that was a true alternative to meat. “Everything I went through was not like the texture of meat, it was more like tofu,” said the food tech entrepreneur. “With meat, there’s a mouth feel — the bite, the texture, and I was missing that quite a bit.” Ms Shukul Lee was determined to create a product with the low carb, high protein nutritional benefits of meat, using the most simple and natural products possible. After she “struggled with letting go of meat”, she was eager to “not come from that place of judgment or preachiness”. By 2017, her chicken-free chicken was flying off the shelves of New Zealand’s two biggest supermarkets and is set to launch in Australia by June, along with a beef-free burger. The fake chicken is made from a surprisingly short list of ingredients — water, pea protein, rice bran oil, pea fibre, pumpkin, natural yeast extract and maize starch. The magic lies in specially made machines that give plant proteins more structure to mimic animal proteins. “I was forced into hardware engineering to solve the problem,” she said. “We had to design and build machines … we had to try so many combinations of ingredients to get the right ones, and the more minimal you get, the harder it gets.” THE NEW GENERATION OF FAKE MEAT Ms Shukul Lee, who has given a Ted Talk and will appear at Vogue Codes 2019, is one of a surge of founders changing the way we look at meat. Perhaps the biggest trailblazer is the Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods, which launched its original plant-based Impossible burger in 2016 and in January brought out the Impo
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