This plant-based bacon, fried chicken and shrimp will fool any meat eater
Several companies share their meat alternatives on the CNET stage at CES. And we're quite impressed.
Abrar Al-HeetiVideo producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Before CES 2020 officially kicked off in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Impossible Foods served up its latest creation, pig-free pork. But the Impossible Pork maker isn't the only player in an increasingly competitive plant-based-food space. Companies showcasing plant-based shrimp, chicken, ice cream and bacon demoed their products on the CNET stage Wednesday at CES, the world's largest consumer tech show.
The Van Cleve Seafood Company is another food maker offering an incredibly realistic alternative to a popular meat: shrimp. Under its Wild.Skinny.Clean. label, it launched a variety of plant-based shrimp products, as well as a crab-less cake. Monica Van Cleve-Talbert, president of Van Cleve, brought samples of the company's crunchy coconut shrimp for CNET staff to try.
You could easily be fooled into thinking this "shrimp" was the real thing. The consistency is eerily similar to shrimp, as is the flavor, and the outer shell is perfectly crispy. The main ingredient is konjac root, and it also contains vegetable starch, paprika and vegan seasonings. The coating is made of gluten-free flour and unrefined coconut flakes.
"You can't talk about the sustainability of the oceans without talking about plant-based seafood," Van Cleve-Talbert said. "It's there to decrease the pressure that we're putting on these overfished species."
Wild.Skinny.Clean. is aiming to launch a soy-based hickory brown-sugar bacon product this year that will wrap around its plant-based shrimp. It also hopes to debut plant-based scallops and salmon. The plant-based bacon is sweet, and has the same consistency and look of regular bacon -- or at least turkey bacon, the only kind I can attest to.
A plant-based fried chicken product from Atlas Monroe could also easily fool an onlooker. The vegan chicken, which is made of wheat protein, has a crispy outer layer and resembles dark meat on the inside. It pulls apart the way regular chicken does and has small air pockets. The flavoring and spices give the product a tasty, umami kick.
Ending things on a sweet note, Eclipse Foods presented its plant-based ice cream, which was perhaps the creamiest nondairy product I've tried. Eclipse Foods creates "milk" from plants that "functions like dairy milk," according to CEO and founder Aylon Steinhart. The product has the taste, texture and functionality of conventional dairy.
Eclipse's ice cream is made using corn, oat, potato and cassava. When the company was creating its milk alternative, Steinhart says, they knew they couldn't just use oat milk, soy milk or almond milk. They needed something molecularly identical to conventional dairy milk for it to function the same way.
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