Fish sauce is going vegan. What is fish sauce? It’s a sauce made by fermenting seafood in salt, and it’s usually associated with food from Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam and Thailand. Generally it’s made from anchovies, but tiny shrimp can also be used. The flavor of fish sauce comes from its umami quality – the earthy, savory flavor field that makes things like mushrooms and vegetables taste so complex and craveable. There’s a distinct, pungent aspect to the sauce, sure, but that flavor is flanked by a salty, briny, caramel sweetness.
There was a time when the use of fish sauce made it hard for vegetarians to enjoy Thai food. But those days are over. Sales of plant-based fish sauce are growing quickly – $18 million of plant-based fish sauce was sold in the United States last year and almost $160 million was sold globally – and sales are growing quickly.
There are now so many brands of vegan fish sauce to choose from. Follow Your Heart, Primal Kitchens, Sir Kingstons, The Vegan Mayo Co., Danone S.A, The Archer Daniels Midland Company, Daiya Foods Inc., Ripple Foods Inc, Impossible Foods Inc., Eat Just, Inc., Beyond Meat, Inc., Amy’s Kitchen, Tofutti Brands Inc., and Earth’s Own Food Company Inc. are some of the major players in the vegan fish sauce market.
So when you next get a craving for Thai or Vietnamese food, be sure to buy or ask if a restaurant uses a vegan fish sauce!
Every year the market for plant-based foods continues to grow. Globally, the market for products is expected to grow by about 18% per year to reach almost $92 billion by 2027, according to a new report by market research firm “Research and Markets”.
The report says that consumer interest is driven by several different factors, including the rising support from medical professionals recognizing the health benefits of plant-based diets. They point to the reduced risk of diseases transmitted by animals and antibiotic resistance, and the ability to feed more people with fewer resources by producing meat from plants, fermentation, or cultivation from animal cells. They also note that consumers can help to minimize air and water pollution, slow biodiversity loss, and protect the oceans by choosing plant-based options.
Nestlé has just come out with a plant-based version of the duck liver pâté, Foie Gras. Nestlé, the multinational food giant, sees plant-based food as one of its biggest growth opportunities. Based in Switzerland, Nestlé’s products cover everything from baby food, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea to confectionery, dairy products, frozen food and even pet food. They are produced in 447 factories operating in 189 countries. So when they decide to launch new plant-based products, it’s a big deal.
One of the products we’re most excited about is their Garden Gourmet Voie Gras, a vegan pâté that mimics the taste and texture of the traditional duck liver pâté, Foie Gras, which is making its debut in Switzerland. We’ve written before about the horrific way that ducks are treated in order to produce Foie Gras, which is considered a delicacy in many high class restaurants. However, with various cities, states and even countries banning Foie Gras, the production of an animal-free replacement product seems like a great opportunity.
Lab grown meat is the product of new technology but is new tech good tech?
In a first, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided that a meat product grown in a lab is safe to eat. The lab-grown chicken, produced by the company Upside Foods, cannot be sold quite yet—first, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will need to inspect the company’s production facilities and product. But industry experts anticipate the USDA will approve the lab-grown meat in the coming months. The FDA’s decision so far only applies to the chicken grown by Upside Foods, but the lab-grown meat industry already consists of over 150 companies on six continents with more than $2.6 billion in combined investments, so we can expect further deliberations on future cultured meat products.
The question is whether lab-grown meat is a meat substitute or just another kind of meat? This is all so new that many don’t know how to answer that question. In one sense it’s still meat because it’s not made from plants. On the other hand it didn’t require the killing an animal.
Ben and Esther’s vegan Jewish Deli just opened on Capitol Hill. Oh yes, oh yes! Finally a vegan Reuben sandwich (vegan corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing ) on pumpernickel bread with real Kosher dill pickles. Try the bagel with vegan lox (smoked “salmon”), tomato, red onion, capers and dill with a schmear (a spread) of vegan cream cheese.
Look for the potato knishes (a round or square of dough stuffed with potato and baked or fried) and noodle kugel (a baked pudding). You can enjoy your meal with a babka (a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeast dough to which raisins, chocolate, or nuts may be added). With the cold weather, warm up with some motzo (unleavened bread) ball soup. If you only want a couple of bites, you can nosh (snack) on a wide variety of menu items.
We’re happy to welcome a new vegan restaurant to our area. The Seattle Ben and Esther’s is the fifth location in the Portland based “Vegan Jewish Deli” chain. There are two in Portland and one in Oceanside California and San Diego.
Good news – more lawsuits are rolling back unconstitutional labelling bans on using meat-based terms. Last month, a federal court ruled that an Arkansas law that had banned makers of meat alternatives such as Tofurky from using commonly understood words to describe their products was unconstitutional. The law prohibited the labeling of any food product as ‘meat’ unless that food product was derived from livestock, and it banned such terms as ‘veggie sausage’ and ‘veggie burger’ from food labeling in Arkansas.
The Arkansas law, U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker explained in her ruling, unconstitutionally barred Tofurky from “convey[ing] meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing, and Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion.” In other words, no one is confused about whether Tofurky is turkey!
We’ve seen the same kind of thing in other states and other products but the meat, dairy and egg alternatives seem to be prevailing. Last year, a lawsuit filed by Upton’s Naturals forced Mississippi’s agriculture department, which had issued similar rules, to backtrack and amend the rules.
Is the meat industry getting nervous? They should be. The sales of meat and dairy substitutes have been soaring, hence the clamor to adopt rules against using some words to describe meat alternatives. Supporters of such laws typically claim they want to help consumers avoid confusion. However, research and commonsense suggest consumers aren’t confused by terms such as “veggie burger” or the like. Worse, linguistic bans generally prohibit accurate and honest labeling even if—as the federal court in Arkansas found was the case with Tofurky’s labeling—”the product [in question] also states on the label that it’s 100% vegan, plant-based or meatless.”
Legumes (a family of foods that includes beans, peas and lentils, plus foods made from them such as soy products) are among the most versatile kinds of plant foods, but they don’t always get the attention they deserve. At restaurants you may find them in a garbanzo bean curry, falafel, a tofu stir-fry or a black bean burrito, for example. At summer picnics, three-bean salad or baked beans are often favorite options.
They are an important part of a plant-based diet. Because of their nutritional composition, these economical foods have the potential to improve the diet quality and long term health of those who consume beans regularly. The same goes for other legumes such lentils and peas. It seems that one of the things people living in blue zones (regions known for the longevity of the people who live there) have in common is that beans form a regular part of their diet. Their health benefits derive from direct attributes, such as their low saturated fat content and high content of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, substances only found in plant foods that act to help prevent cancer and many other diseases.
The vitamin profile of beans includes vitamin C, and seven out of the eight B-vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, and folate—but not vitamin B-12. Additionally, the mineral composition is quite notable, with amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Beans are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. On average, beans provide 7 or more grams of total dietary fiber per ½-cup serving. Dietary fiber intake contributes to feelings of fullness or satiety and helps maintain functioning of the digestive system.
Beans are also a good source of protein. Just half a cup of black beans provides 8 grams of protein. It’s important to remember that there’s no need to combine beans with grains to meet all your protein needs. A variety of plant foods over the course of a day or two will do just fine. Unlike animal foods, beans are low in saturated fats and have no cholesterol. If you worry about gas, introduce beans into your diet in small quantities and start with lentils. This will allow your gut bacteria to gradually adapt to the new foods in your diet, and so they’re less likely to cause a problem.
So add beans to your salads, use soy products such as tofu and tempeh regularly, enjoy chilis, curries, soups and stews with plenty of beans in them, and you’ll get an amazing boost to your nutrition. You can cook dried beans in bulk at home and store them in portion sized containers in the freezer, or you can buy canned beans for convenience. Lentils don’t need pre-cooking, which makes them more versatile.
Can plant-based bacon taste like the real thing? Americans love their bacon, and it’s going to take a lot to get them to switch to plant-based versions. Vegan bacon brands have been around for years, and many of them are delicious. They’re made from a variety of products, such as soy, mushrooms, and wheat-gluten, with flavorings such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, herbs and liquid smoke to give that authentic smoky flavor. Many brands are readily available in grocery stores, giving us lots of choices, but none taste exactly like animal-based bacon.
A French company, La Vie, seems to have cracked the problem. French farmers are so worried about La Vie’s plant-based bacon that the French Pork Lobby have accused La Vie of unfair competition. The Pork Lobby claims that La Vie’s plant-based lardons are so similar to conventional pork alternatives that they must have copied the original flavor. La Vie is flattered by the comparison and thanked the pork lobby for the “nicest compliment”. Taking out a full back page advert in Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, the bacon innovator directly addresses consumers first. “The pork lobby is attacking us because our veggie lardons are indistinguishable from pork lardons.”
Revo Foods has created a 3D-printed salmon made from plants that is expected to reach the US market in 2023. The company, an Austrian plant-based food tech startup, currently sells packets of smoked “salmon” made from pea protein, algae extract and plant oils to mimic the taste and texture of real fish without the environmental impact. This new creation enables them to offer salmon fillets that can be cooked and served just like the fish version.
The new product is made with pea protein but is also also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to ensure it’s nutritionally comparable with regular salmon, but without any cholesterol or toxins. The newly developed 3D printing production process will help improve the texture, so consumers are able to cook the whole-cut, plant-based salmon in various ways without compromising texture or flavor. The company’s website said this new process produces up to 86% less emissions than conventional salmon and uses 95% less freshwater. Of course, it also saves a lot of salmon lives.
The company’s goal is to produce vegan seafood to lessen human impact on the oceans and avoid consumption of seafood containing toxins and heavy metals, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They are expanding their product line to include salmon and tuna spreads and salmon and tuna sashimi in the future. We look forward to giving all their products a try.
Progress! The largest beef company in the world, JBS Foods, is launching plant-based bacon through its Colorado-based Planterra Foods brand. Even the meat industry realizes that plant-based foods are the future. The vegan bacon selection will roll out under the company’s Ozo brand. Soon, American customers will have access to juicy, crispy plant-based bacon with the True Bite Plant-Based Bacon, featuring Cracked Black Pepper, Spicy Jalapeno, and Applewood Smoke flavors.