Saturday, August 24, 2013

When chicken isn't ...

Beyond Meat "chicken-free" wraps.
I have no beef, pardon the expression, with local farmers who raise chickens, cows and other farm animals raised humanely and without hormones. But when I consider the apparent disregard for their animals, their employees, the environment or my health, I've observed a little too much of agribusiness in general, and the chicken industry in particular, to be comfortable about ingesting the produce of Perdue, Tyson and their like.

This is one of the reasons why, for the last couple years, I've been making an effort to cook plant-based dishes at home. I think it's good for me, I'm pretty sure it's good for the environment, and it's definitely better for the animals. (I'll blog about this in more detail one of these days.)

That said, though, a lifelong carnivore sometimes gets a hankering for beef or lamb or shrimp or sweet, sweet chicken.  Happily, the latter crave can be met surprisingly well with a new product - heavily capitalized by Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan William - called Beyond Meat.

This is a nutritious product made of soy and pea protein and other fairly natural things, which, particularly in the form of "Chicken-free grilled strips", make a startlingly convincing replica of the real thing, particularly when you use it as an ingredient in a familiar recipe.

Fresh fruit skewers.
Today, I wandered by St Matthew's Episcopal Church to help a crew put together dishes for an event tomorrow, and ended up fashioning a bunch of veggie "chicken-free" wraps (photo above) using Beyond Meat grilled strips and fresh spinach tightly rolled in wheat-flour tortillas spread with a thin coat of pesto and cream cheese.

I'm eager to hear what folks who haven't tried Beyond Meat think of them, and hope to be able to hustle back over after being with the community at neighboring St Thomas Episcopal for morning services. I hope a few pieces are left!

While we were at it, I joined a team harmlessly working out aggression by stabbing watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and blueberries on wooden skewers.  It made a plate (above) almost as appetizing to look at as to eat. But not quite.

Coincidentally, Google co-founder Sergey Brin has also been putting serious bucks into finding high-tech, sustainable substitutes for meat.  his recent funding role behind efforts to grow in vitro beef in the laboratory. I don't expect to be trying a Brin-burger any time soon, though, since the recently publicized sample cost something like $300,000.