How is Plant-Based Meat Made?

We get it, you’re skeptical about whether or not plant-based meat alternatives can really substitute the real deal. Thanks to animal proteins’ texture and taste, it’s a versatile and satisfying ingredient to use in your everyday cooking. However, at Meatless Farm, we have taken all of this into consideration to create products that will not just mimic animal protein but elevate it to something even better! So, if you are wondering, how are plant-based meats made? Keep reading to find out!

How is plant-based meat made?

Creating an animal protein alternative starts by selecting the highest quality ingredients that can replicate the several key characteristics of meat: appearance, texture, and taste. So, what is plant-based meat and how is it made? Here’s how we do it: 

Appearance 

Animal protein gets its coloring from a biological compound called myoglobin, which helps carry oxygen through the bloodstream to muscles. To replicate this distinctive color, we at Meatless Farm use vegetable and fruit extracts in all our meatless meat, specifically beetroot, radish, and tomato. Beetroot gives off a deep and intense purple color, red radish tends to appear yellowish-red in color, and tomato provides a vibrant red. Mixing all three of these extracts together helps us achieve the perfect all-natural coloring for our meat substitute products – plant-based sausage, beef, and chicken.

Texture

Animal protein has a springy texture and self-binding characteristic that can be difficult to replicate using plant protein sources. While animal meats are usually flexible to the touch, plant proteins are relatively rigid. This is why most of the plant-based meat alternatives you’ll find tend to crumble and dry out. At Meatless Farm, we’ve solved this problem by incorporating several key ingredients in our meatless meat products. First, we use coconut, canola, and shea oils as a source of fat to help bind the protein together and give that distinctly juicy texture. Then we use pea protein concentrate and isolate to give our plant-based meats a more firm and fibrous texture that is similar to animal meats. Finally, we use carrot fiber and a plant-derived thickener (called methyl cellulose) to keep everything together and oh-so succulent. Whether you go with our ground beef, meatless burger, or sausage patties, we are confident you’ll love our products just as much as animal meat. 

Taste

Of course, what you’re really wondering is how we get our products to taste like meat without actually using any real meat! Well, this is the result of two key ingredients: yeast extracts and natural flavorings. Yeast extracts contain an amino acid found in vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Using it in minimal quantities throughout our meatless meat products gives our plant-based meats savory and sumptuous umami flavors – much like you would taste with animal proteins. We enhance the flavor of those extracts by adding in some natural flavorings as well. Not sure what that means? Well, without getting into too much of the boring details, scientists are now able to break down any flavor into its specific chemical components and then recreate it from scratch. In other words, they can make the meat flavor without any of the real meat. 

We then combine all of these ingredients together and then shape them into links, patties, and ground for you to enjoy!

Our Ingredients

At Meatless Farm, we believe in transparency and that everyone should know and understand what they are choosing to eat. So, we’re very open about what we make our plant-based proteins out of. Here are all the ingredients used in Meatless Farm products: 

    • Pea Protein: Our innovative pea protein is made in Canada by our colleagues at Lovingly Made Ingredients. This ingredient is rich in protein, allergen free, and non-gmo certified. Retaining most of the fiber from the pea, this protein provides Meatless Farm products with a fibrous texture and hearty dose of protein for a wholesome bite.
    • Inulin: This blue-flowered herb binds with water creating a smooth and creamy texture that perfectly replicates the fats found in and succulence of animal proteins. Even better, inulin is a prebiotic it helps the good bacteria in your gut thrive which could explain why it’s such a popular additive for health foods.
    • Coconut Oil: When we make our plant-based products, we still need to add some fat into the mix to create a decadent meat-free protein. Coconut oil gives our products a juicier consistency while also providing several health benefits thanks to the triglycerides contained within. 
    • Natural Flavorings: As we mentioned above, these flavorings give you all the taste of meat without any of the actual meat thanks to a lot of sciencey stuff.
    • Canola Oil: Giving our meatless products a juicy and succulent texture, this oil is pressed from the seed of a bright yellow flowering plant. Plus, it’s loaded with omega oils and Vitamin E all while being gluten-free!
    • Rice Protein: An additional source of protein for our animal-free products, rice protein is high in certain amino acids and when mixed with pea protein (like we do!) it creates a more complete source of protein. 
    • Salt: Used sparingly at Meatless Farm, salt gives our food a deliciously savory flavor. 
    • Shea Oil: Pressed from the nuts of an African shea tree, you will be able to see the flecks of white oil in our products when they’re cold. As the cook, however, they melt into the plant-based protein to give it a rich flavor and texture. 
    • Methyl Cellulose: This all-natural thickener is derived from cellulose which is the jelly-like substance that helps every plant stand tall. We use it in our products to make sure they don’t fall apart when you cook them. 
    • Caramelized Carrot Concentrate: You could eat caramelized carrots when they are freshly roasted or later when they are cold, but we actually use them to help give our products the right coloring. 
    • Vegetable & Fruit Extracts: We’ve already talked about this one… Beetroot, radish, and tomato juices give our products a luscious red color the natural way. 
    • Vitamins & Minerals: At Meatless Farm we add a variety of vitamins and minerals that match the profile of meat to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need! This includes Niacin, Zinc, Iron, and Vitamins B6, B2, B1, and B12.
    • Yeast Extracts: An amino acid found in cheeses and some vegetables, we use small quantities of yeast extract in our products to develop the umami taste similar to animal meat. 
    • Ascorbic Acid: Basically a fancy name for Vitamin C, ascorbic acid is an antioxidant that keeps our food products stable and prevents them from reacting with oxygen, preserving the color and taste. 
    • Carrot Fiber: We love carrots! Not only do we use them to enhance the color and fiber content of our products, but we use them to help bind the water in our plant-based proteins so they don’t fall apart.

Ready to make the swap? Check out our top tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet and 6 of our favorite plant-based lunch ideas!

How Meatless Farm is Different

At Meatless Farm, we are dedicated to creating a product we can be proud of and that you will love! That’s why we recently opened the world’s first dedicated plant protein facility (outside of China) in Calgary, Canada. This flagship facility uses cutting-edge manufacturing processes that enable a reduction in water and energy use by up to 90% when making our products. Why Canada? Well, Canada is the pea-capital of the world so having a facility here will give us the ability to grow, harvest, process and extract our own pea protein all within 20 kilometers. Talk about sustainability! Learn more about the other benefits of plant-based protein here. 

We believe that plant-based protein should be easy to use and accessible for everyone, but we know many people enjoy animal proteins. That’s why we have dedicated ourselves to exploring how plants can be used to create new and exciting flavors that everyone will love incorporating into their diet. Whether you are a full-fledged vegan or a fan of Meatless Monday, we promise you’ll love the taste of our plant-based proteins. Plus, unlike some of our competitors, we don’t have anything to hide! If you’ve got questions, we’ll make sure we have (or find) answers.