Exploring Plant-Based Delights: A Journey through Meat Alternatives
In recent years, the demand for plant-based food options has surged, with consumers seeking healthier and more sustainable alternatives to traditional meat-based dishes. With an array of plant-based products flooding the market, it can be challenging to discern which ones are worth trying. To shed light on the subject, we embarked on a plant-based food tasting session, evaluating popular meat substitutes based on a range of criteria, including taste, texture, and overall appeal.
Our team at Spoonful tested the minced variety of five different brands : AfterMeats, a frontrunner in the plant-based meat alternatives here in Singapore; Beyond Meat a leading plant-based food company in the US, that offers meat alternatives made with pea protein and unique beefy flavours; Harvest Gourmet, a plant-based meal solutions brand by Nestle in Malaysia; Impossible Foods, another pioneering company in the plant-based food industry in the US, renowned for its innovative approach to creating burger patties from plant protein; and Meat Zero -Thailand’s bestselling plant-based brand, in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Join us as we dive in to uncover, in no particular rating or order, each brand’s unique flavour and texture of their minced alternative meat.
Our tasting journey beings with Beyond Meat, our taste buds encountered a more divisive experience. While some praised its likeness to meat, others found its taste overly flavoured by chemicals, leaving a lingering sense of nuttiness. The texture, though resembling meat, fell short of the standard set by its counterparts, particularly Impossible Meat. Beyond Meat’s distinctive flavour profile could be a hit or miss, and its texture was noticeably firmer. If you’re open to exploring unique tastes and don’t mind a slightly harder texture, Beyond Meat might still satisfy your meat-free cravings.
Stepping into the realm of Harvest Meat, we find that this is a plant-based alternative that emulates chicken. With a taste that comes close to the real thing, Harvest Meat earns praise for its ability to provide a satisfying experience. Cooking with it is a breeze, and the touch of vinegar (in its ingredients) effectively masks any lingering soy taste. However, it’s important to note that Harvest Meat contains gluten, which could be a consideration for those with specific dietary restrictions. Overall, Harvest Meat offers a promising alternative for chicken lovers seeking a plant-based option.
We then explored Aftermeats, a soy-based meat substitute that left much to be desired. This is the only brand that offers the meat alternative in the form of dry pellets, making portioning easy for home cooks. To cook, one simply needs to add water and heat it up in the microwave. It is as simple as that. While the process of cooking is simple and fast and that the product being in the dry form ensures that it has a long and good shelf life, the team however find the taste of soy overshadowing any other flavours that could have been present. Additionally, the texture proved to be somewhat tougher among the options tasted, proving that if water is not added enough, the texture of the pellets could also be affected easily. While it may be suitable for those who enjoy the distinct taste of soy, it falls a little short of delivering a well-rounded alternative to meat.
Next up is Meat Zero. This meat substitute offers a taste reminiscent of soy and boasts a chewy texture. While it falls short of replicating the experience of actual meat in our opinion, it manages to hold its own. The soybean paste is apparent, indicating its origins, yet it doesn’t overpower the overall taste. Although it may not be the most convincing alternative, Zero Meat earns its place on the plate for those seeking a decent non-meat option.
Our last stop is the renowned Impossible Meat, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. With its uncanny resemblance to real meat, Impossible Meat successfully captures the essence of the carnivorous experience. Its flavour profile goes beyond mere imitation, with even the oil taste mirroring the essence of meat. One notable aspect is its tendency to stick together during cooking, which could be a blessing or a challenge depending on one’s preference. For those yearning for an authentic meaty encounter without the ethical or environmental concerns, Impossible Meat is a standout choice.
As the demand for plant-based options continues to soar, the availability of meat alternatives has expanded exponentially. Our plant-based food tasting session showcased a range of products, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Impossible Meat stood out with its remarkable resemblance to meat, while Harvest Meat successfully imitated the taste of chicken. Beyond Meat offered a unique flavour profile, although it may not appeal to everyone, and Zero Meat provided a decent option for those seeking a soy-based alternative. However, After Meats fell a little short with its soy taste and tough texture but the usefulness of its longer shelf-life and it being in the form of dry pellets proves advantages to others, especially those who would like to better portion and store their food.
Ultimately, the choice of a meat alternative comes down to personal preferences. It’s encouraging to see the continuous innovation in the plant-based food industry, as companies strive to create products that closely resemble the taste and texture of meat. Whether you’re a committed vegetarian or simply looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, these meat alternatives can provide satisfying options that are kinder to the environment and animals.
Remember, taste is subjective, so it’s worth exploring various options to find the plant-based products that suit your palate. The world of plant-based cuisine is constantly evolving, with new and improved alternatives emerging regularly. So, don’t be afraid to embark on your own taste-testing adventure and discover the plant-based delights that resonate with you. Happy exploring and bon appétit!