Today I tried my first Beyond Meat product (Beyond Chicken!). Sautéed in a little oil. I was impressed. Look, smell, texture, flavor… damned close to chicken. I gave it an 8 out of 10 (close enough). I decided to give it a try after reading an article in Wired that talked about reverse engineering “animal flesh” in the lab.
“Replicating the flavor of animal flesh is just a matter of gathering certain amino acids, especially the yummiest acid of all, glutamic acid, the key component of monosodium glutamate, or MSG. (In the brain and nervous system, glutamate is a critical neurotransmitter; its taste, umami, is one of only five we know of that the tongue can perceive.) Any decent flavorist can whip you up a brew that tastes like roasted chicken with little more than hydrolyzed vegetable proteins and yeast extracts, using equipment from a high school chem lab.”
A (hypothetical) question for meat eaters. What if someone could create a product that was indistinguishable in every way from animal flesh. Something that could fool you in a blind taste test. And let’s say it cost the same (or less) and it was less harmful to the environment that traditional meat production. Would you eat it?