I had a gluttonous meal, but there was not a trace of meat in it.

Before the end of the week, my head was actually filled with a lot of questions.

In general, it is similar to what everyone cares about:

Is plant meat delicious? Is plant meat healthy? Is plant meat still expensive? How much meat is the new plant meat?

Let me start with the conclusion: Just like real meat, it depends on how it tastes good or not; each has its own advantages in terms of health, and people can get what they need; the price is getting cheaper, and it will become cheaper; indeed, plant meat is becoming more and more like real meat. Meat out.

Recently, we have just participated in the new product launch conference of the well-known domestic plant meat brand Weekly, visited their research and development center, and tasted their various plant meat products.

It can be said that an immersive experience of the whole process of plant meat from birth to entrance.

Plant meat version of "Man and Han Banquet"

Walking into the company in Zhouling Shenzhen, it is hard to imagine that there is a piece of "island beach" hidden in the high-rise buildings lined with steel bars, as well as an office area like the Wizard of Oz.

That piece of "The Wizard of Oz" is where they drink afternoon tea and taste new products. Liu Shuman, co-founder of Weekly Zero, told Ai Faner with a smile that the employees had to get a place for tasting every time, and everyone was happy to try something new.

This time we tasted the "superior" vegetable meat dishes all at once. Liu Shuman said, don't be polite, just treat it as a friend's house for dinner.

It can be felt everywhere that this is a trendy, open and happy company.

Of course, we have not forgotten the point of coming here is-eating "meat".

The new product that this press conference will focus on is "Zero Master Black Pepper Vegetal Beef."

Its special feature is that it is a whole piece of vegetable protein meat with beef fiber texture. In the past, most of the domestic plant meat products were in the form of meat emulsion.

The star chef of Week Zero walked over with a large piece of vegetable beef and started slicing in front of us. He pressed the meat with his left hand, and cut it back and forth with his right hand, looking tough and strong.

Looking closer, the cut meat did retain the real texture of red and white intertwined meat. According to Zhou Ling, this was because they adopted the "intermittent knitting flavor method" + "refined molecular enzymatic cross-linking technique."

The first one is simply to simulate the silky protein of beef texture fiber, while reducing the damage to the tissue during the process, and then adding flavor. The second technique is to repeatedly cross-link the protein molecules during the production process to form a multi-layered network fiber structure.

In this way, a whole piece of textured vegetable beef is finally shaped.

We paired olives in oil and capers in Mediterranean vinegar, and tasted a few slices of vegetable beef.

It has moderate tenderness and good chewiness, but it lacks a little bit of meaty texture. Maybe because it is cold, the meaty aroma is not released enough. But on the whole, the taste is comparable to real meat, and it's easy to eat.

After the new products, next, the star chef of Weekly Zero presented 6 exclusive creative fusion dishes in turn, which combines various types of vegetable meat on Weekly Zero, including vegetable beef, vegetable chicken and so on.

The more amazing taste is "smoked beef roll + a black truffle".

The outer layer of the smoked beef roll is wrapped with black pepper vegetable beef, with smoked mayonnaise, fermented bean curd, lettuce, red onion, and a bite. The meat is solid and mixed with a light fermented fragrance. The black truffle contains vegetable beef mince, plus three kinds of mushrooms and cranberry beetroot puree. It tastes like a bushwalk in the mountains.

It sounds a little dreamy, but it is indeed quite wonderful. The founder of Week Zero, Kiki, told us with a smile that the chef was recognized by the whole company through this black truffle meat ball, and then successfully joined Week Zero.

Another dish, "Give a Chestnut", adds vegetable chicken breasts, the outer layer is fried to golden and crisp, and is combined with chestnuts that are never absent in autumn and winter. It is made into a soup and poured into capers and wild Sanchi and crispy bowl, after a bite, after the warm and delicate chestnut flavor, you can chew the chicken with a clear and spicy sensation.

In the special dish "Spoon of Fennel", we also tasted the dried "Weekly Zero Master Black Pepper Vegetal Beef", which was very crispy. The first feeling is that it is very suitable to be a soap opera that is easy to watch while chewing.

After this "plant-meat meal", the obvious feeling is that it is delicious.

Of course, to a large extent, it is also due to the chef's craftsmanship. This is actually a side proof that whether plant meat is delicious or not, just like real meat, depends on how it is made. Back to the meat itself, if no one points out whether it is real meat or not, the taste is almost indistinguishable in the same dish.

Kiki also mentioned at the scene that these dishes actually look Western-style, but many of the materials and methods are Chinese-style, including pancakes with fruits, three-color noodles and so on. The important thing is not to distinguish between regions, but whether it is really delicious.

Q Let’s share more home recipes.

The aforementioned "Master Black Pepper Plant Beef", the Zero Week Plan will be the first to launch related new products in Hey Tea in mid-January, and will later launch convenience stores, western restaurants, coffee shops, bars and supermarkets.

Previously, Zhouling has cooperated with hundreds of brands such as Hey Tea, Luckin, and Family to launch plant-based meat products. Starting this year, it has officially started to deploy its own C-end products, and successively launched plant-based meat buns, plant-based dumplings, and plant-based meat products. Meat dumplings and other products have recently launched snacks such as protein bars, smile shaker cups, and a bite of vegetable shredded meat.

▲The zero-feeling bag of the week zero

We also tried these products after meals.

Chinese-style meals such as vegetable meat buns have made vegetable meat more and more closer to the tastes of the Chinese people. We have already experienced it before. ( Click the blue word to read ).

New products such as protein bars, smiley shake cups, and vegetable shredded meat are more inclined to snacks. In fact, different people have different tastes, but from packaging, design, or the product itself, you can see the creativity and consumption habits of the new generation.

For example, protein bars are aimed at urban youth who are now passionate about healthy living. There are also special flavors such as Youjin tofu and Chaoshan brine, which are more accepted by the Chinese; and the smiling music shake cup is the "upgraded little raccoon dry noodle", or directly Say "plant flesh shakes joy."

They made the plant meat into the shape of diced chicken, pour different flavors into the box, shake it vigorously, and eat it. It is suitable for leisure time and a few pieces under high pressure.

After tasting plant meat, we went to the place where they were first born.

After visiting the process of plant meat production, I also got a deeper understanding of them.

The birth of a piece of plant meat

As surprising as the beach jungle here, Zhou Ling even built the R&D center in the office building.

The person in charge of Zhouzhi R&D Center told us that in order to build the R&D room here, they need to overcome a series of problems such as high-power industrial electricity, drainage, smoke exhaust, and fire protection.

But the advantage is that they can also easily interact with marketing, sales and other departments. New products are developed and tested immediately, and the finished products are made in the kitchen. Finally, everyone tastes and decides whether to stay. The process is one go.

Entering the R&D room, the entire space is very similar to a space base, with a metal texture like a sci-fi movie. The person in charge took us into various R&D rooms and introduced the R&D process one by one.

A vegetable meat is usually produced like this——

First, prepare the raw materials.

At present, well-known plant meat companies abroad, such as Impossible, use fermented soybean hemoglobin technology to simulate the color and flavor of meat, but because of the genetic modification technology involved, it cannot be adopted in China. The raw material of another beyond meat is peas. Peas are supplied in large quantities abroad, but the taste is not so suitable for the Chinese people.

Weekly Zero is considered to have chosen a relatively friendly raw material: soybeans. This is also the source of protein in plant meat.

In other respects, the oil in plant meat comes from coconut oil, the color comes from red beets, and the viscoelasticity comes from wheat.

It is completely different from the vegetarian meat we ate when we were young: vegetarian meat is generally made directly from soybeans, while plant meat is defatted, extracted, and separated from soybeans to become defatted soybean meal powder. The protein is then separated, then puffed and extruded to become Brushed protein.

In the next step, we must first talk about the zero-week patented technology-molecular sensory technology.

When you smell a piece of raw beef or raw pork, you will not smell the aroma, but when you put it in the pan and fry it, the aroma immediately overflows because of the "Maillard reaction." In the high-temperature cooking process, the amino compounds and reducing sugar molecules in the meat undergo a chemical reaction to produce the unique flavor and aroma of the meat.

Zhouli researched this flavor molecule, then searched and extracted the corresponding flavor molecule from natural plants, and added plant protein after many experiments-this will make the plant meat not only healthy, but also meaty.

Next, is the process of constantly testing the taste.

Researchers will continue to polish the soy protein composition during this process, and test them from multiple dimensions of taste, flavor, color, and nutrition. They will verify the process equipment in the pilot plant, and finally the plant meat will be shaped and frozen, and the finished product will come out. .

After that, the plant meat enters the kitchen, and it is the link where the star chefs exert their inspiration and creativity. Finally, they come to different tasters. After the taste is passed, the factory production is arranged.

Zhou Ling revealed that now their self-built factory is also ready to go into operation, covering an area of ​​tens of thousands of square meters, integrating R&D and manufacturing.

In the entire production process of plant meat, in fact, we are most concerned about health issues.

From the perspective of raw materials, the problem is not big, and plant meat has many natural health advantages compared to real meat.

Take "Zero Master Black Pepper Vegetable Beef" for example, it contains no preservatives, no nitrite, low fat, 0 cholesterol, 0 trans fatty acid, high dietary fiber and so on. Plant meat can also be added with more beneficial ingredients. For example, this plant beef can help digestion by adding prebiotics.

Of course, real meat has advantages that plant meat cannot replace. For example, it is rich in trace elements such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and so on.

The person in charge of Weekly R&D Center told Aifaner that in the next phase, Weekly will also focus on adding more nutrition and functionality to plant meat. For example, quinoa, microalgae, chickpeas, etc. are used as raw materials. These super plant proteins contain rich minerals such as vitamin B1, B6, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.
When asked whether plant meat will completely surpass real meat in terms of health​ in the future, they said:
​Plant meat and real meat actually have different benefits, and we therefore have more diversified dietary options, so it is not a substitute, but a supplement.

In addition to form, taste, and health, an important hurdle for plant meat to penetrate the public is price.

This year, many vegetable meat brands are trying to lower their prices. Green Monday's production scale has been expanding. In May of this year, vegetable pork prices have been reduced by 22%. ​The burgers that we cooperated with HiTea and Dicos before week zero were also between 15-25 yuan, which is about the same price as real meat burgers.

▲ OmniPork's new shredded pork launched by Green Monday

For this "Master Black Pepper Plant Beef", Zhou Ling also told us that the price can be lower than that of the same type of beef on the market.

Tomorrow of plant meat: become the third option

Plant meat has the potential for development, but it has not yet been popularized.

Last year, the global artificial meat market reached 13.9 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to reach 279 U.S. dollars in 2025.

In China, the current first echelon of plant-based meat consumers is still focusing on the 26-35-year-old new middle class and the 26-30-year-old new white-collar workers. Some 18-25-year-old Gen Z will also experience early adopters.

The major vegetable meat brands are coming in waves, with more and more online and offline actions, and the development of vegetable meat is getting faster and faster. This can be seen from the localized vegetable meat products launched by major brands this year.

This year, major plant-based meat brands are coming in waves, and there are more and more online and offline actions. Localized products such as plant-based spring rolls, moon cakes, sausages, zongzi, and dumplings have become a new trend.​
Taking advantage of this, we also asked Kiki a series of questions about the future of plant meat.

▲ Plant meat products at Zero Weekly

From the perspective of the entire development stage of plant meat, Zhouzhi said that they have passed the 2.0 stage of molecular sensory technology and entered the transition stage of 3.0-4.0.

One of the biggest difficulties in the flavor of plant meat is that it has no animal fat flavor. Therefore, in the 3.0 stage, the core of the zero week is the directional heat treatment technology of plant fatty acids, which can bring more life-like animal fat aroma, so that low-fat plant meat also has a more natural meaty aroma.

Kiki said, "Our current vegetable protein technology can make delicious beef balls, but if it is a special-grade Chaoshan beef ball, its fat flavor is too strong, and continuous technological breakthroughs are still needed."

Another problem is similar to the difficulty of beef fascia.

In the 4.0 stage of plant meat, it is necessary to be able to simulate muscle fibers to make plant meat, and to imitate the principle of discoloration of animal meat, to directly make "brined beef, whole chicken chops, and whole pork chops."

Simply put, it's exactly the same as real meat.

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

"This technology is expected to be realized within 1-1.5 years at the earliest. The whole form of meat will not only have a qualitative breakthrough in taste, but will also bring a wider consumer group." Kiki said.

Now, various plant meat companies around the world will promote their own technology, and many people will compare the gap between domestic and foreign. But in Kiki's view, China’s plant meat still has to be more suitable for Chinese tastes. Only the technology has functionality and is Only when consumers recognize it as a regular product in people's lives, technology produces real value.

Therefore, to determine which company's plant meat is better, it should be based on consumers' acceptance of their plant meat.

This is a daunting challenge for every plant meat company.

Moreover, in the entire domestic market environment, the major plant meat brands have not yet reached the time for direct competition, but need to work together to fight a larger market with their bare hands.

Plant meat, whether in China or in the world, has been given a strong sense of mission.

▲ Picture from: SlashGear

The biggest hurdle is the ethical issues, such as environmentally friendly vegetarian food, animal protection, and so on.

Foreign countries will think that it is a trend to be vegetarian or eating plant-based meat, but domestically, you will still feel that you are on the moral high ground. Why not let you eat meat?

The perceptions at home and abroad are different, so the C-end products of Weekly Zero rarely mention environmental protection.

In fact, with regard to plant meat, consumers are most concerned about health. The delicious food and low price are still in the process of optimization, which will make it more accessible to the people in the future.

Liu Shuman told Ai Fan'er that in their opinion, vegetable meat is just a third choice between traditional vegetarian meat and animal meat.

Therefore, the week zero will also look at what consumers actually need and lack, and they will then think about whether they can use plant protein to make it.

Healthy, trendy, delicious, and convenient foods actually have a lot of room for development in the consumption of this generation of young people.

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

In addition to plant meat, another kind of artificial meat cultivated by cells is also undergoing rapid development.

Asked whether this will cause pressure on the development of plant meat in the future, Kiki told Ai Faner that the artificial meat of cell culture is still a certain distance from commercialization, and it has more challenges in terms of regulation, regulations and ethics. .

If both can develop in the future, the two may go hand in hand, each with a place.

This is a good thing for consumers, they have a new choice.

In the future, when a new food reappears, we like it, perhaps not because it resembles a certain food or can replace a certain food.
Just relax. People may just need it. ​Or just because it gives us a new possibility in our lives.

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