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I am a food + product photographer & educator specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable brands. When I am not working with clients, I empower creatives to start their journey by sharing my knowledge on the business of food + product photography.
I used to love a good burger. Before I gave up meat. I didn’t give up because I didn’t like the taste or because it made me sick. My decision was entirely based on ethical and health related reasons. Now, I really love my veggies and I am super happy with a huge salad (And bread. And cheese), but I must admit that sometimes I really miss a good burger. Luckily there are now a lot of delicious options out here for people like me.
As more people become aware of the living conditions in factory farms and slaughterhouses, and the consequences of extensive cattle farming on our environment as well as the impact that meat products can have on our health, a lot of consumers are turning to plant-based proteins as smarter – and yummy – alternatives.
You just have to look at the numbers: Nielsen research reports that 39% of all Americans and 43% of all Canadians are actively trying to substitute veggie proteins for some of their meat-based staples. The majority (83% of Americans) recognize that eating less meat means consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat, and cite these health benefits as their main reasons for cutting back. A smaller group, around 14% of Americans and 21% of Canadians, opt for plant-based proteins to shrink their environmental impact and carbon footprint.
Lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds have been in my diet for a few years since I started reducing my meat intake. Quinoa, has appeared in my plate a while back and is now omnipresent on my Instagram feed, and in most restaurants. As more people are looking for meat alternatives, the list of options expands and diversifies.
Take algae, for example. Macroalgae, like the kind wrapped around sushi, and microalgae, like spirulina, are forecasted to be some of the hottest foods of 2018, and have already received press from the Huffington Post as the “key to save humanity,” and recognition from the FDA. Both types contain up to 70% protein, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals that boost them up to superfood status.
Okay, I get it, you are not thrilled by the idea of eating seaweed. Then maybe you may want to check out products like the Impossible Burger, a completely plant-based, juicy replica of beef-patties. It’s made “for the love of meat,” according to its website, yet brags that its production, compared to cow-based patties, uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and releases 87% less greenhouse gases. It looks like meat, is meant to taste like meat, and even bleeds like a real, juicy, traditional burger. Their not-so-secret ingredient is heme, an iron containing molecule that gives meat its red appearance and juicy texture. When the researchers behind the Impossible Burger introduced plant-based heme to their recipe, the result was a healthy looking red patty that browned and sizzled on the grill and dripped red onto their plates – a resemblance to real meat that is striking. The Impossible Burger is now served in more than 1,000 restaurants across the US, and has raised hundreds of millions in financing – it just might be the next big thing in American cuisine.
Whether its lentil pasta, spirulina powder, or a juicy Impossible Burger, the savvy eater is making big diet changes. This shift to plant-based foods is encouraging: for the future of human health and for the longevity of our planet. And it’s damn delicious.