The Vegan Foodie: Impossible Pork, Sticky Fingers Goes National, DiCaprio’s New Bet

We’ve got you covered with the latest developments in plant-based foods.

Leonardo di Caprio

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What’s cooking in the world of plant-based products? From a strategic launch of Impossible Food’s new faux pork to a search engine that “veganizes” any recipe and makes suggestions for plant-based alternatives, it’s a hot time in the vegan kitchen and we’re ready to dig in! 

Impossible Foods Continues Expansion with Pork

Hot on the national rollout of its faux chicken nuggets, Impossible Foods is taking a more intimate approach with its new line of faux ground pork. The company has partnered with chef and restaurateur David Chang—who first introduced diners to the now world-famous Impossible Burger—to feature the alt-pork at his New York restaurant Ssäm Bar. That exclusivity won’t last long, however; on October 4, Impossible will make its pork available at more than 100 restaurants in Hong Kong, with Singapore to follow a bit later. 

Pork is the most consumed meat in the world, so Impossible is smart to take its time bringing this one to market ahead of its other offerings. But what does it taste like? According to the myriad of reviews available online, Impossible Pork tastes pretty close to the real thing.

“There’s something different about the pork product. It’s as if Impossible has perfected its formula for faking that meat taste, albeit in a different flavor,” Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes wrote after his taste test at CES 2020. “If the Impossible Burger tastes a lot like ground beef, I would almost argue the new Impossible Pork tastes better than real pork."

A Fungus from a Yellowstone Hot Spring Leads to New Faux Foods Startup

Chicago-based startup Nature’s Fynd is launching a new line of faux foods featuring a previously-unknown fungus discovered in a Yellowstone National Park hot spring. The fungus, Fusarium strain flavolapis, was found during a NASA-backed research study and is extremely high in protein, amino acids, and fibre. 

“This is a whole food, not an ingredient,” CEO Thomas Jonas told Fi Global. “To make the analogy with soy, you harvest the bean and then you have to process [it] to extract the protein fraction, dry it and texturize the flour. It’s highly processed. Think of us as the soybean—that’s it. We are not extracting a fraction and recreating a structure. What we have is […] like one sheet of protein. Imagine something that has the native texture of raw chicken breast.”

Thanks to $500 million in funding, with investors that include Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Al Gore, Nature’s Fynd expects to begin expanding its products to more stores by the end of the year. 

DiCaprio Doubles Down on Lab-Grown Meat

Leonardo DiCaprio, already an investor in a variety of alt-protein startups, is expanding his portfolio to include two cultivated meat startups. Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat, two companies developing protein products grown from cow cells, have announced that the actor and environmentalist has purchased an unspecified stake in each. He will also serve as an advisor to both companies. 

"One of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to transform our food system," DiCaprio said in a news release. "Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms offer new ways to satisfy the world's demand for beef, while solving some of the most pressing issues of current industrial beef production."

A Life Cycle Assessment report by independent research firm CE Delft in April found that lab-grown meat “is projected to reduce climate impact by 92%, air pollution by 93%, use 95% less land, and 78% less water than industrial beef production." They expect that by 2030 cultivated meat will be cost-competitive with its traditional counterpart

Sticky Fingers Vegan Bakery Goes National

Sticky Fingers, the award-winning vegan bakery based out of Washington, D.C., is finally catering to sweet lovers nationwide. Founded by Doron Petersan, a two-time champion of the Food Network’s baking competition series “Cupcake Wars,” Sticky Fingers' online shop will sell its beloved cookies and brownies, as well as baking mixes and decorating kits. You can read all about this deliciousness over on VegNews or place your own order here

EatKind Search Engine ‘Veganizes’ Any Recipe

Tired of scanning ingredients for recipes and searching for vegan-friendly alternatives? So was Neetha Avalakki, a recent convert to the vegan scene who decided to leverage her background in tech and create something to help speed up the whole process. Her solution? EatKind, a new search engine that leverages artificial intelligence to scan recipe links and auto-magically provide vegan ingredient substitutions. 

“It was critical for EatKind to address this discovery problem to achieve our goal of making the planet vegan,” she told GreenQueen. “And one way to do that was by providing a method for anybody to make any dish or meal vegan.”

EatKind is extremely useful, and it’s pretty neat to feed it something like Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon and watch it instantly detect the non-vegan ingredients and serve up something more friendly. Go forth and veganize anything you like here

Plant-based Pudding Noops Raises Another $2M

Noops, a plant-based pudding startup that launched in early 2021, is looking to expand and is drawing lots of investor interest. TechCrunch is reporting that, only months after raising $2M in pre-seed funding, the company has successfully raised another $2M. Its dairy-free oat milk puddings, presently available in 750 stores nationwide, are made with gluten-free oats, sunflower seeds, cocoa, and dates.

Noops founder Gregory Harry Struck says the investment infusion will go toward increased manufacturing and new products, including the development of a yogurt alternative.