In recent years, an increasing number of startups have started working on accelerating the evolution of plant-based meat alternatives into something that consumers wouldn’t be able to tell apart from the real thing. Few, however, have ventured to find a substitute for more high-profile meat cuts such as steaks, with most of the innovations geared toward plant-based burger patties and sausage.
Enter Juicy Marbles, a Slovenian-based company that has created a vegan alternative to the crème de la crème of steak cuts: the filet mignon. According to co-founder Vladimir Mićković, the company’s goal is to bring a premium steak on the same access level as plant-based burgers and sausages.
Details about how the company makes the steak are still obscure because of the highly competitive market. What has been revealed for now is that the main ingredient is a soy protein also found in the Impossible Burger and other brands in the industry.
The journey towards the final product involves mixing that protein with oils, thickeners, beetroot coloring, and flavors, all of which then goes through a special, patent-pending 3D printer that uses heat and pressure to craft the steak.
More challenging, notes Mićković, has been the savory aspect, as well as achieving the distinctive visual qualities of the cut, including the strands of muscle fiber and the juicy fat marbling. This is something that Fast Company writer Talib Visram says Juicy Marbles has achieved with mathematical precision. The taste, on the other hand, is quite similar to Beyond Burger’s fake meat, minus the metallic aftertaste, reports Visram.
While the company has already launched the product within the EU, where customers can pay €30 (about $33.60) for four 113-gram (4-ounce) steaks. That’s about half as much as one would pay for the real thing, and Mićković expects the cost to decrease when production scales up. The company says that it is working on other steaks as well, including a plant-based ribeye.