Meat substitutes have been around for centuries. Advances in food technology have even led to realistic imitations with their own dedicated supermarket aisle. What’s eluded the industry, so far, is the ability to replicate identical-looking and tasting ‘cuts’ of meat.
Enter the Alt-Steak. Harnessing 3D printing technology, digital modelling and advanced food formulations, it replicates the look, texture and flavour of the real thing.
The steak is a composition of three ingredients: "alt-muscle" (plant protein from peas and soybean), "alt-fat" (plant fats) and "alt-blood" (natural colours and flavours), printed simultaneously to create a highly viscous product, Ben Shitrit reveals.
“Recently, we hosted renowned chef Assaf Granit during The Great Big Jewish Food Festival and he claimed that eight out of ten people wouldn’t know the difference between real meat and our steak,” he says.
But, compared to the real deal, the Alt-Steak has more fibre, less fat and no cholesterol, while maintaining equal protein, he says. An internal assessment found it uses 90 per cent less water, 95 per cent less land and emits 90 per cent less carbon dioxide.
Improvements to the steak's texture, softness, fat composition and more, can be applied at the click of a button – while entirely different meat products using the same machine, process and ingredients can be imagined with 3D modelling.
“Recently, we hosted renowned chef Assaf Granit during The Great Big Jewish Food Festival and he claimed that eight out of ten people wouldn’t know the difference between real meat and our steak.”
Ben Shitrit’s motivation is to reduce the environmental impacts of the traditional meat industry. He believes new technologies are needed to accelerate change. “Humanity has exhausted the potential of new recipes and branding – we need something more drastic,” he says.
While the Alt-Steak is aimed at everyone, key targets are “flexitarians” and “conscious carnivores”.
The number of people wanting to put more plant foods on their plate surged from 18 to 26 per cent between April and July, according to a global survey by FMCG Gurus. 29 per cent of participants surveyed globally said they consume faux meat.
Within Australia, the meatless meat market is estimated to grow from $150 million in 2018-2019 to over $1.4 billion by 2030. The taste remains a key consumer concern.
Scott, a former environmental scientist with Greek grandparents, is concerned about the impact of beef production on the planet. “We’ve got to look at alternatives, as unusual as they may seem,” she says. “However, I’d personally prefer to meet my protein requirements with actual whole foods like nuts, beans and legumes – 3D meat is still a highly processed product.”
Travel blogger Anna Sherchand is keen to give the 3D-printed steak a go. “One of the goals in my life is to at least try things once,” the adventurous digital nomad says.
Sherchand’s parents are Nepalese and live in Australia. “Nepalese people don’t eat beef,” she explains. “We worship cows.” Unlike her parents, Sherchand eats beef steak occasionally, but consumes a mainly plant-based diet for health, environmental and economic reasons.
"I’d personally prefer to meet my protein requirements with actual whole foods like nuts, beans and legumes – 3D meat is still a highly processed product.”
She says she’d probably try the steak grilled with mash and beans or incorporated into a more traditional Nepalese dish, like a stir-fry with vegetables or a curry with rice.
Redefine Meat hopes to start shipping its industrial-grade 3D printers to major worldwide meat distributors and other foodservice players early next year, after market-testing in select high-end restaurants in Israel, France, Germany and Switzerland.
A thick and flavaful curry, this is one of our most-loved vegan dishes when we do food events – people always come back for more.