MailOnline has tried the world’s first plant-based filet mignon steak – and it’s shockingly close to the real thing.
Created by a Slovenian firm called Juicy Marbles, the fake filet mignon contains fat made from sunflower oil and soy protein that mimics real flesh.
Rather than using 3D printing or scaffolding, Juicy Marbles uses a patent-pending machine to align layers of protein ‘fibre’ from the bottom up.
This results in a texture that imitates the fibers found in beef tissue, resulting in juicy chunks that ‘softly tear away’.
However, the product fetches a handsome price that’s worthy of a real filet mignon; unless you buy in bulk, each 113g Juicy Marbles steak costs nearly £10 each.
Juicy Marbles says on its website: ‘The experience is exquisite. The texture is firm, yet velvety’
Juicy Marbles uses a machine called the ‘Meat-o-Matic 9000’, which layers proteins into linear fibers, mimicking muscle structures
JUICY MARBLES FILLET MIGNON STEAK
- soy protein
- Wheat protein
- sunflower oil
- beetroot powder
- Yeast extract
- Vitamin B12
- Thickeners and emulsifiers
Nutrition (per 113g steak)†
- Energy: 193 kcal
- Fat: 7.1g
- Carbohydrate: 2g
- Protein: 26g
Juicy Marbles says on its website: ‘The experience is exquisite. The texture is firm, yet velvety. As juicy chunks softly tear away, one may begin to question reality. One may describe it as succulent, luscious, or outrageous even.’
Filet mignon is a cut of meat taken from the smaller end of a cow’s tenderloin – the long, narrow, lean muscle located within the loin.
Filet mignon is a prized cut because that particular bit of muscle does not bear any weight, so it’s naturally soft and tender.
To replicate the filet mignon’s luxurious consistency, Juicy Marbles doesn’t use 3D printing, nor does it grow it in a lab, unlike other current methods.
Instead, it uses a mysterious machine called the ‘Meat-o-Matic 9000’, which layers proteins into linear fibers, mimicking muscle structures.
Primary ingredients of the fibers are water, soy protein, wheat protein, salt and beetroot powder, which does a decent job of replicating the deep pink color of cow flesh, without the blood runoff.
Juicy Marbles has also used sunflower oil to replicate a filet mignon steak’s marbling – the webbing of creamy white fat that makes beef so juicy.
Juicy Marbles’ product also has a similar calorie count to real filet mignon – 100g is around 170 kcal for each.
The first thing that struck me after taking the plant-based filet mignon steak out of the packet was the texture – it’s flabby and a bit wet, just like beef.
Again, just like the real thing, it’s best sprinkling the Juicy Marbles filet mignon with salt prior to cooking.
Filet mignon is a cut of meat taken from the smaller end of a cow’s tenderloin – the long, narrow, lean muscle located within the loin
A four pack of the plant-based filet mignon steaks comes shrink-wrapped, and could easily be mistaken for beef based on appearance alone
EATING MEAT AND DAIRY HURTS THE PLANET, SAY SCIENTISTS
Eating meat and dairy at the current rate of consumption is speeding up global warming, scientists say.
Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.
Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further fueling global warming. More trees are cut down to convert land for crop growing, as around a third of all grain produced in the world is used to feed animals raised for human consumption.
As well as this, the nitrogen-based fertiliser used on crops adds to nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is around 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
I pan-fried four steaks in hot oil that was smoking slightly, so that the exterior quickly gained a nice brown crust.
Cooking the plant-based steaks only took a few minutes on each side. I served them with a very basic accompaniment – chips, peas and a tomato relish – which probably didn’t do any justice to the product.
In fact, my chips were slightly undercooked because I was so desperate to eat my meal and test out the steaks.
Easily the best thing about the Juicy Marbles steak was the texture – the way the individual fibers easily fell apart was extraordinarily similar to beef fibres.
The lines of sunflower oil fat are also arranged so that the interior stays moist and gives the steak a rich and succulent mouthfeel.
Flavour-wise, there’s a very subtle tell-tale hint of soy in the flesh, as you would expect, but the crispy seared crust on the outside is very deep and meaty.
At the dinner table, I really don’t think many would be able to tell this ‘steak’ is animal free – especially if you covered it in a hearty red wine gravy or a peppercorn sauce.
Unfortunately, the plant-based filet mignon don’t come cheap – a pack of four 113g steaks including shipping costs €45, or £38.50.
Buyers do have the choice to save money if they buy in bulk – four four-packs (so 16 steaks in total) cost €96 (£82) including shipping.
That works out at just about £5 per steak, which is about the price you’d pay for a half-decent beef steak in the supermarket.
I served the Juicy Marbles steaks with a simple accompaniment – chips, peas and a tomato relish
Easily the best thing about the Juicy Marbles steak was the texture – the fake flesh just falls apart
Is it worth it? I’d say just about. If you’re hosting a dinner party, vegan or vegetarian friends will be seriously thrilled to try this product, especially if they used to eat meat and still have the occasional cravings.
Alternatively, feed them to all your carnivorous friends, listen to them to rave about how it’s the best bit of meat they’ve ever tasted, and then give them a shock by telling them it’s vegan.
I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I do believe in a future where animal flesh has been replaced with ethical, eco-friendly plant-based and lab-grown options.
Juicy Marbles is clearly pushing boundaries with its product, which could be key to getting meat addicts to reduce their intake.
Even though eating meat at the current rate of consumption has been linked with global warming, the UK government has no plans to tell people to cut down.
Earlier this month, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government won’t force the public to stop eating meat for environmental reasons, as humans are ‘ultimately omnivores’.
HUMAN CELLS TAKE IN LESS PROTEIN FROM PLANT-BASED MEAT, STUDY SAYS
Plants high in protein, such as soybeans, are common ingredients in vegan burgers and sausages.
But a new study shows that proteins in these plant-based substitutes are not as accessible to humans cells as those from meat.
The study authors, at the Ohio State University, says this knowledge could eventually be used to develop more healthful products.
To mimic the look and texture of beef, chicken and other meats, plants are dehydrated into a powder and mixed with seasonings.
Then, the mixtures are typically heated, moistened and processed through an extruder.
These products are often thought of as being more healthful than animal meats because the plants used to make them are high in protein and low in undesirable fats.
However, lab tests have shown that proteins in substitutes don’t break down into peptides as well as those from meats.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids described as the ‘building blocks’ of hormones, toxins, proteins, enzymes, cells and tissues.
For their study, the researchers tested whether human cells can absorb similar amounts of peptides from a model meat alternative as they can from a piece of chicken.
They created a model meat alternative made of soy and wheat gluten. When cut open, the material had long fibrous pieces inside, just like chicken.
Cooked pieces of the substitute and chicken meat were then ground up and broken down with an enzyme that humans use to digest food.
In vitro tests showed that meat-substitute peptides were less water-soluble than those from chicken, and they also were not absorbed as well by human cells.
With this new understanding, the researchers say the next step is to identify other ingredients that could help boost the peptide uptake of plant-based meat substitutes.
The study was published on Wednesday (June 22) in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.