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"Vegetarian cutlet factory" produces endless slabs of fake meat


March 8, 2012

Some realistic-looking "meat," created by Fraunhofer's vegetarian cutlet factory

Some realistic-looking "meat," created by Fraunhofer's vegetarian cutlet factory

There are a number of reasons that some people choose not to eat meat - for instance, they may not want to support the slaughter of animals, they may wish to avoid the health risks associated with consuming too much animal protein, or perhaps they're not big fans of the environmental impact of raising livestock on a commercial scale. Unfortunately, if these people still want to eat meat-like foods, a lot of the meat alternatives currently available are kind of ... yucky. Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, however, is working on a device nicknamed the "vegetarian cutlet factory." It produces continuous slabs of veggie-based mock meat, which is reportedly quite similar to the real thing.

Fraunhofer is one of several groups involved in the European Union "LikeMeat" project, the aim of which is to develop palatable, cost-effective meat alternatives from raw vegetable materials. Some of the main plant sources being looked at include wheat, peas, lupins and soya.

Some previous attempts have involved a hot extrusion process in which plant proteins are mixed with water, heated under high pressure, then pushed into a die. Unfortunately, as soon as the mixture is extruded its temperature drops dramatically, causing it to release steam and foam up. The resulting souffle-like texture isn't exactly like that of steak.

In Fraunhofer's process, the plant protein and water are brought to a boil, but then allowed to cool back down. Since no sudden pressure release occurs, no foaming takes place. Also, however, as the paste cools, its molecules form into chains. This results in an end product with a meat-like fibrous texture.

This process is carried out within the prototype vegetarian cutlet factory machine, which is reportedly about the size of two table tennis tables. It is capable of creating "one endless piece of meat" that is about one centimeter (0.39-inch) thick, and that can be formed into shapes such as morsels, slices, or entire cutlets. It can put out 60 to 70 kilograms (132-154 lbs) of "meat" per hour, or 300 to 500 kilograms (661-1,102 lbs) a day.

While the consistency and texture of the meat substitute are said to be superb, the flavor apparently still requires a little work. Nonetheless, the Fraunhofer researchers believe that by the end of the LikeMeat project, in one year, that challenge will be overcome. In the meantime, interested parties might also want to keep an eye on what's happening in the field of lab-grown meat - although vegetarians beware, it would technically still be meat.

Source: Fraunhofer

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

If their food is so good why do they want it look and taste like ours?

If GOD didn't want us to eat animals why did he make them out of meat?

If you are a vegitarian I don't think I can trust you!

Eric Eisinger

That sure puts the mystery in mystery meat. I dont think soya based meat substitute would be a very good option for males. We get enough estrogen from the modern environment with out shoveling it past our tonsils.

Bob Ehresman

"There are a number of reasons that some people choose not to eat meat - for instance, they may not want to support the slaughter of animals, they may wish to avoid the health risks associated with consuming too much animal protein, or perhaps they're not big fans of the environmental impact of raising livestock on a commercial scale."

Uhm, Preach Much?

I'd like my technology news liberal agenda-free, please!

[We're just providing some explanation as to why there's a demand for meat substitutes -Ed.]


Food Porn.......

i LOVE tins of textured vegetable protien.......

I love REAL meat.......

I LOVE pictures of FOOD.......

Mr Stiffy

Amazing glibness and indifference to suffering in previous comments.

Oestrogen: no, sorry, it was actually found that normal consumption of phytoestrogen levels will produce only minimal physical changes in males. 1

As for the 'if God doesn't want us to eat animals why did He make them out of meat?' - sorry, if you're serious, this is just beyond ridiculous (it's like: if God didn't want us to set people on fire, why did He make them flammable?), and if it isn't, it's such a tired old meat-eater chestnut. Anything to blind yourself to the fact that you're openly contributing to the mass torture and slaughter of non-human animals, ey?

Oh and 'liberalism' - yeah, as if not eating meat is a political decision.

It's amazing to what lengths people go to in order to mask the fact that they're simply being unethical, when there are evidently far better options available, like the increasingly viable artificial meat option as shown in the article.


there are dozens of meaty veg things already why is this written to look like it's a brand new idea:? wle


We will find it in all sorts of processed goods if it is any good.

John Spieker

Well,one day as the population continues to overtake resouces,meat will become a very expensive protein source. Animal meat is a very inefficiently produced food compared to vegetables(including grains and nuts etc). Deride it now,but these types of meat subsitutes may one day all you can afford.

And yes,I am a lacto-vegetarian,and no,I don't bother with any of those mock meat products.


Exactly how does my desire to enjoy the tasty flesh of dead animals make me a socialist? Those "government subsidies" you mentioned in passing are a common ploy of a certain political party to demonize their target dujour. Let me clue you in, complements of Reason Magazine (i wont include the link as it might block my post).

"The Difference Between a Tax Break and a Subsidy: Exposing economic confusion on the left and right." May 17, 2011

Should American taxpayers stop subsidizing big oil companies? How about abortions? There seems to be a lot of confusion on the issue. In part, that's because there's a lot of confusion about what a subsidy really is.

To hear liberals talk, it's scandalous that Americans are forking over their hard-earned tax dollars to prop up Big Oil. Former Virginia Gov. and DNC chairman Tim Kaine, now running for Jim Webb's Senate seat, last week called on his opponents to join him in opposing "government giveaways for big oil companies," as he put it. "Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) Defends Fairness of Giving Billions in Oil Subsidies to Exxon," snarled the liberal ThinkProgress last week. " In March, the group groused that "House Republicans unanimously voted to continue big oil subsidies worth billions of dollars a year, even as oil companies are enjoying windfall profits from skyrocketing prices." On Thursday, Virginia Democratic Party executive director David Mills said the oil companies were "getting free money from the government."

Just one problem. Those "subsidies" are not subsidies. They are tax breaks. Of the $4 billion in alleged subsidies to Big Oil, $1.7 billion derives from a domestic manufacturing tax deduction intended to keep factories in the U.S. It is available to every company, not just oil companies. Another $850 million comes from another tax provision, also available to every U.S. corporation, that gives a credit for taxes paid to foreign countries - just as you can deduct your state taxes from your federal income taxes. Yet another $1 billion comes from tax rules that let oil companies treat oil in the ground as capital equipment for write-down purposes, and the rest comes from rules that let oil companies write off certain business costs immediately.

Maybe these are dumb rules. Maybe they need changing. But in no sense can they be called subsidies - i.e., money taken from Smith and given to Jones. The failure to tax Exxon more does not increase your payment to the IRS by one red cent.

How do we know tax credits should not be called subsidies? Just ask The New York Times, which recently tore into House Republicans for their "New Attacks on Women's Rights." The Times editorial excoriated the GOP for passing the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." According to the newspaper, the bill "imposes new limitations on abortion access by driving to end abortion insurance coverage in the private market using the nation's tax system as a weapon. A provision would deny tax credits to small businesses that offer private health plans that cover abortion . . . The measure also eliminates the medical-expense deduction for most abortions. . . . Overall, the bill treats tax benefits as the equivalent of public expenditures for abortion." That is something the Times says Congress should not do.

At least regarding abortion. But on May 6, the Times was commending Democratic Sen. Max Baucus as someone who "gets it" on energy. Baucus "is drafting a bill that seeks to repeal $4 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies to the oil industry. . . . The tax breaks - fast write-offs for drilling expenses, generous depletion allowances, and the like - may have been useful years ago but are wholly unnecessary when oil prices and industry profits are reaching new highs."

Likewise, ThinkProgress also considers eliminating the tax write-offs for abortion services the equivalent of a tax hike, calling the proposal a "tax increase on women and small businesses. . . . the bill forces women and small businesses that provide health insurance that covers abortion to pay more in taxes than they would otherwise." Yet when Exxon objected to plans to cut the oil companies' tax breaks, ThinkProgress said the company had "publicly whined . . . that 'they want to increase our taxes.' "

Some conservatives are just as duplicitous - or, if we are being generous to everyone involved, just as unaware of their own contradictions. A tax break for abortion is a government subsidy, they claim, while a tax break for an oil company is not.

Take House Speaker John Boehner. Late last month, he said the oil companies should "pay their fair share" by losing their tax credits and whatnot. But a few days later he recanted, insisting that "raising taxes was a non-starter," as The Hill put it. Then on May 4 Boehner took to the House floor to endorse the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. "I rise to express my support for . . . applying a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion across all federal programs," he said. "Enacting this legislation would provide the American people with the assurance that their hard-earned tax dollars will not be used to fund abortions."

Well, the law already provides such an assurance, through the Hyde Amendment. And it is fatuous to say that cutting Jones' taxes by $100 because Jones had a medical procedure somehow takes an additional $100 out of Smith's pocket. If that were true, then cutting Jones' taxes by $1,000 would raise Smith's taxes by the same amount as well, and cutting all taxes to zero would at the same time raise all taxes to infinity. Garbage.

(For what it's worth, Virginia's Eric Cantor supports both the abortion measure and the elimination of oil company tax breaks. Two points to him for being consistent.)

A tax break is not a public expenditure and should not be treated as such. But if partisans on the left and right are going to treat it as such in some instances, the least they could do is treat it as such in all of them.


The main reason for imitation meat is not for vegetarians... but to encourage non-vegetarians to adopt a diet with less to no meat, by providing a substitute.

All vegetarians I know has no preference for these; I on the other hand do, not because it tastes like meat, but some of them just taste good by itself. Prob also because I eat everything.

And btw Gragraposker, meat are already expensive, if not for government subsidies that directly and indirectly (i.e. feed grains) props up the meat & dairy industry which allow for lower prices.

So Annawyn, (using your faulty logic), by eating meat you are actually a socialist. oh am gee.

Calvin k

@Annawyn, those are reasons that vegetarians give - just ask one! My teenage daughter is against the slaughter of animals, so despite the fact that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore, she hasn't eaten meat since she was 10. Inconvenient? Very much, but then it would be wrong for me to impose my philosophy on her, wouldn't it?

Marcus Carr

Science fiction writers predicted this decades ago


finally beginning to understand this joke... "Q. how do you know if there's a vegan in your pantry? A. don't worry they'll tell you"

John McMullen

Yes John if the subject comes up they will talk about it just like you will. I am always amused at how uncomfortable some carnivores get when the subject comes up. I'm a carnivore and the subject makes me uncomfortable too, but I actually like the some of the alternatives, they are getting better all the time. I could live without meat if you gave me something that was looked and tasted just like it without the side effects, I'm not a picky eater. And if we're going to get political Annawyn, it does make you a socialist.

The Hoff

Ohhhh dear! We're at it again! The Royal Vegan-Omnivore Turret Championships. Hey folks, follow the money. Just imagine what you might be dining on while rocketing through the cosmos on your way to another planet or such. Fresh meats and vegetables? I think not. Soy based? Never! IV drip of essential food matters? You betcha! We are lab rats my friends, nothing but lab rats. As for the here and now, if you love your steaks and such, buy high quality pastured dead animals vs the crap sold in the meat section. Not that difficult to find but waaaay overpriced. Drive out to the country and visit some farms! Great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday or both! Chug home in your petroleum sucking vehicle with coolers full of good stuff, have at it until the next trip out. But for heavens sake, forget the arguments pro and con regarding meat vs non-meat. It's all BS! Scramble some un-born chickens and go for it! Stuffed pig intestines! Yummy! And for sure, milk from 1/2 gallon plastic containers from cows that take more drugs than the Mexican Mafia can provide and YOU, my sweet chums, are paying for it all through taxes and other support from YOUR gone-wild government. Ohhhhh what a mess we're in!


Pheadar O'Tyrrell

Interesting stuff this. However, have you considered that by everyone switching to eating a plant based meat substitute it would cause a mass extinction of most farm animals? Firstly farmers would reduce/eliminate stock to make room for crops and secondly no demand for meat would result in no sales of stock and no economic reason to keep them. In New Zealand up to the late 1989's there were around 70 million sheep on farms, now with a big shift to dairy farming that number has halved. Think what would happen if we all turned vegan over the same period... No more chickens, sheep, goats, cows or pigs. Unless you visited the zoo...


It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!

Jeff Michelson

@gragraposker That may well be...but it will happen long after I'm dead and burried...


Mmmm... cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart bypass surgery...out of control health care costs, throw that on the bbq! once in a while meat is ok, most of the time non-meat, this is a good alternative and is welcome


Humans are omnivores. Without supplements for vitamins and other vital chemicals we can only naturally obtain from meat, a vegetarian diet is not a healthy diet.

If you are eating a strict vegan diet, without supplements for what you are missing, you are on a path towards some very nasty health problems.

Gregg Eshelman

@Gregg thank you for a sane, reasonable comment.

Racqia Dvorak

re:it's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them! comment Jeff Michelson - March 9, 2012 @ 09:55 am PST

That would surely be a clever way to solve the overpopulation problem, now wouldn't it be?? I eat a limited amount of meat, but am primarily a lacto-vegetarian. Ah yeah, and I also eat some raw, dead fish too.




Before I start, lets get this out of the way, I am cannivore and enjoy my steak like the next person, but... Back on the subject, NO you don't need to eat just meat to fulfill your diet and a healthy life style. There are numerous cases that have proven over and over again that animal meat is the LEADING cause for deseases and cancer to our society.

There are numerous societies/communities in the 20th centuries that don't have a full animal meat diet and live very productive lives. Do some reading on the China project that was done in the 70s and was published in 80s. Since then China have allowed McDonalds into their country...Hey, what a quinky dink, now they have tons of health issues that they NEVER had before.

Last but not least, under no circumstances you should trust the FDA to tell you what to eat which is lead by the meat industries and recently allow growth hormone onto cows when all the other federation outside the U.S. had a huge ban on it.

If you don't like to read, watch "Forks over Knives" or "Food Matters" - that is a good place to start.

No, I don't trust process foods and strongly doubt this company can pull this off and bet healthy @ the same time.

Luan To

@ Annawyn :-) I see you failed to understand my sarcastic demonstration of your faulty reasoning from your first post. Ignorantly claiming reasons to not eat meat simply as "liberal agenda" is like me claiming eating meat make you a "socialist". Both are ignorant simplification making unfounded statement, and politically motivated without just reason.

Now you have felt the negative effect of such statements, hopefully next time you will not be so quick to make another similar one.

Calvin k

So when is someone going to start producing vegetable shaped meat? What about fruits? Do we have any shapes left for them?


Another good movie on the subject,try "Bad Taste",one of Peter Jackson's little gems before "Lord of the Rings"-very funny.


I for one will never stop enjoying the miracles of nature that are our animals exhibit. Pigs take slop, feed, and unmentionable substances and turn them into BACON, Ham and Porkchops!!! Cows eat grass, hay, and feed, and turn them into delicious juicy steaks! What has the soybean ever given us but a questionable aftertaste?

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