As more diners turn to chicken, beef, pork and seafood alternatives because of environmental concerns or as a way to enhance a vegetarian or vegan diet, innovative cultured-meat growers and makers of plant-based food are rushing to meet the demand.
Impossible Foods is one of the highest-profile purveyors of plant-based meat alternatives. The Impossible Burger got an upgrade in 2019 with a new formulation. It not only looks like a real hamburger, but many diners also report that it's almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Not content to just mimic beef, Impossible Foods debuted Impossible Pork at CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January. The plant-based substitute steps in for ground pig meat. Impossible Foods also has plans to create a fake bacon.
Bacon is one of the holy grails of plant-based foods. It's a tough dish to imitate, though many have tried. Wild.Skinny.Clean previewed an upcoming bacon product at CES 2020 that will wrap around its plant-based shrimp. CNET's taste-testing team enjoyed the hickory flavor, sweetness and crispiness of the fake bacon.
This Southern fried cultured chicken is another dish from Memphis Meats, which grows meat from cells in a lab. "It's real meat, and life-long meat eaters immediately recognize it and enjoy it," the company said.
Memphis Meats says its process uses less land, water and energy than regular livestock operations.
San Diego startup BlueNalu grows whole-muscle, cell-based yellowtail fish. This dish, part of a December 2019 demonstration, features the fish in medallion form, atop a roasted butternut squash bisque. The company calls its niche "cellular aquaculture."
Though the product itself is plant-based, it was cooked in fryers that also cook regular chicken, so some vegetarians might still want to give it a pass. KFC hasn't said if it will make the chicken alternative more widely available.