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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.

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- 03:07
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These plant-based foods look eerily similar to the real deal. 

Oliver Padilla/CNET
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

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.

Plant-based bites are gaining popularity as more companies aim to be environmentally conscious and reduce the need for animals as a food source. Many tout health benefits such as lower cholesterol and fat, though they've also faced criticism for being highly processed. Impossible Foods competitor Beyond Meat sells plant-based ground meat and sausages, and last year partnered with KFC to offer plant-based chicken. Many grocery stores sell products like plant-based bacon, sausages and meatballs. 

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This coconut "shrimp" from Wild.Skinny.Clean. is made with konjac root.

Oliver Padilla/CNET

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

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This plant-based fried chicken has the same savory flavor as real meat. 

Oliver Padilla/CNET

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. 

"We had to take a blend of plants that would come together, interact with each other -- the oils, the sugars, the nutrients -- to create a milk that is actually functional," he said.

Now playing: Watch this: Taste testing the latest plant-based meat alternatives
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If the spread of food products on stage is any indication, the fake meat craze is just starting to heat up. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.