Although there has been a recent surge of popularity, plant-based meats can be traced as far back as the 1880’s to a well-known pair of brothers, the Kelloggs.
While we are more used to their cereals that were advocated as a healthier alternative to meat based breakfasts, they are also the little known creators of ‘protose’ the earliest form imitation meat in the western world.
At their facility in Battle Creek, they began the meat alternative movement over two centuries ago. Unfortunately, they were members of a religious movement known for its pursuit of bland and vegetarian food – an attempt to be closer to God. As such, it’s easy to see why it was not a widespread product at the time.
Their mixture of a steamed product of corn starch, peanut butter, and cabbage, among other ingredients, actually became popular in sanitariums, which should probably tell you all you need to know about the state of the product at that time.
A growing movement
The growing vegetarian movement began in the early twentieth century as the horrors of meat packing plants were exposed to the general public.
An expose of how sausage meat was made and subsequently contaminated proved to be an unintentional catalyst to the vegetarian movement in it’s fledgling years.
This heightened awareness of the poor practices in meat factories led to a whole variety of meat alternatives coming to market that had been integral parts of eastern cultures for centuries.
The Adventists that began a food company in 1931 would go on to produce the world’s first commercially available meat alternatives in the form of soy and wheat based products.
Modern day meat substitutes
Fast forward to 1981 and a restaurateur in Oregon would create the garden burger from leftover rice and vegetables, eventually creating the first veggie burger and creating a million-dollar company in the process.
By the early twenty first century, fast food giants like Burger King caught onto the possibilities of a vegetarian option, launching the BK veggie burger patty in 2002.
By 2013, a Dutch company produced the first truly meatless mockup by growing a burger in a lab using cow muscle cells, calf blood, and antibiotics, which sounds delicious.
Now, breakfast superstars like Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Hortons have turned to Beyond Meat as they look to get in on the early stages of a dietary revolution. Supermarkets and other food outlets are finally capitalising on the demand and the growing market for plant-based meat alternatives.