Israeli Firm Turns to Yeast to Revolutionalize the Fake Meat Market

Eytan Halon wrote . . . . . . . . .

riven by concerns over climate change and growing interest in healthier sources of protein, plant-derived meat substitutes are soaring in popularity.

In recent months, pea protein-based faux meat producer Beyond Meat has made headlines courtesy of its meteoric rise on the NASDAQ stock market. Rival company Impossible Foods, the developer of soy protein-based substitutes, is reportedly considering going public too.

Now seeking to ride the plant-based wave of public interest is NextFerm, an industrial company headquartered in Yokne’am Illit that specializes in fermentation-derived nutrients.

Aspiring to lead the world of nutrition through a combination of fermentation experience and science, NextFerm aims to shake up the fake meat market with proteins isolated from optimized strains of non-GMO yeast.

Founded in 2013 by former executives at specialty nutrition company Enzymotec, NextFerm has already used its novel fermentation techniques to produce yeast with increased resistance to freeze-thaw cycles, antioxidant dietary supplements and a new yeast strain for the production of ethanol from corn.

NextFerm founders Boaz Noy and Tzafra Cohen, both passionate about nutrition, are now targeting the plant-based protein market.

“We understood that everyone is working on the textures of meat substitutes, trying to make it more similar to beef and share the same taste,” said Noy, chief executive of the company. “Very few people are talking about the biological benefits of the protein and what it aims to do: to build muscles and prevent muscle degeneration among the aging population.”

While other vegan proteins are lacking sufficient amounts of leucines, Noy says, NextFerm is developing novel yeast-derived proteins that are rich in the essential amino acid, and could even offer higher levels of leucine than whey protein.

Noy is cautiously optimistic that leucine levels could even exceed those in animal-derived sources.

“All of the indications are that the market for vegan protein will grow, and there are already successful stories, like Beyond Meat,” said Cohen, senior vice president R&D and business development at NextFerm.

“They are approaching the taste and the structure, but our focus is on the nutritional value. Protein comprises amino acids, some are essential that our body can produce. Out of these essentials, leucine is specifically related to muscle mass,” she said.

Responding to concerns voiced over the consumption of too many soy-based products, Cohen emphasized that the yeast-derived protein isolate has no hormones and no allergens.

Planning to soon commence clinical trials, the company aims to initially market its proteins to early adopters in the sports nutrition sector, but a primary target is the adult and elderly population, which suffers from increasing muscle mass deterioration.

“We are willing to and will invest in clinical trials because we understand that it is a win-win situation,” said Cohen. “We will have more data and can answer the questions posed by the consumers.”

For Noy, an accountant by training, NextFerm is entering a perfect economic storm with the production of its novel protein. He also knows that in order to make a significant contribution to the world’s protein needs, it will be necessary to combine forces with the largest food producers and distributors. The company is currently in negotiations with potential partners in the US.

“More and more millennials are trying every week to eat vegetarian replacements for meat,” said Noy. “This is happening from a sustainability and moral point of view. The world ‘going vegan’ is not that everybody is going to stop eating meat, but that people will split their proteins and foods into different sources.”

Source: The Jerusalem Post

Indian-style Spiced Okra with Almonds


8 oz okra
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
2 tbsp butter
l tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
l-inch cube fresh root ginger, grated
l tsp cumin seeds
l tsp ground coriander
l tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Trim just the tops of the okra stems and around the edges of the stalks. They have a sticky liquid which oozes out if prepared too far ahead, so trim them immediately before cooking.
  2. In a shallow, flameproof casserole, fry the almonds in the butter until they are lightly golden, then remove and set aside.
  3. Add the sunflower oil to the casserole and fry the okra, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and fry gently for a minute, then add the spices and cook for another minute or so, stirring all the time.
  5. Pour in about 1-1/4 cups water. Season well, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or so, until the okra feel just tender.
  6. Finally,mix in the fried almond and serve piping hot.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Source: Essential Vegetarian

Vegan Burgers vs Meat Burgers: What’s healthier?

Nan-Hie In wrote . . . . . . . . .

Anthony Wan Yuec Ho attempted to give up eating meat but failed. He said he is “weak-minded”.

“It [is] literally because there isn’t enough choice for vegetarianism,” the 36-year-old Hong Kong-based civil engineer said. Mushroom-based burgers and “bland” Buddhist vegetarian fare simply didn’t satisfy his appetite for meat, he explained.

He became a “flexitarian”, eating mostly plant-based foods and having animal products in moderation. And now, included in his diet are some of the latest entrants into the plant-based meat market, such as burgers from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and Right Treat’s OmniPork mince.

He eats these new meat substitutes about twice a month and feels he is not compromising on taste thanks to such items. “The Beyond burger tastes nice. The Impossible [burger] … tastes like meat but it lacks the texture,” he said.

The trend towards plant-based substitutes has piqued Wan’s interest in lab-cultured meat, where the meat is “grown” from animal cells, from companies including Just, Memphis Meat and Mosa Meat.

“It’s not out yet, but they did a double blind test with some professional chef and they couldn’t tell the difference … I haven’t tried it but really want to.”

Trendy faux meats are all the rage, including in Hong Kong. US-based Impossible Foods, which offers its product in more than 10,000 restaurants in the United States, had its first international launch in Hong Kong, one of the largest per capita meat-consuming markets in Asia, last year.

The launch aims to tackle the global increase in demand for meat, said Nick Halla, senior vice-president international for Impossible Foods, at a conference in Hong Kong.

“Asia is where 44 per cent of [meat globally] is consumed today and growing quickly,” he said. “We have to get there really soon and grow very quickly to address that demand.” Halla says a few hundred outlets in Asia now offers its products.

“Looks, cooks and satisfies like beef without GMOs, soy or gluten,” is the marketing message behind the Beyond Meat burger. Impossible Foods says its burger is “made from plants for people who love ground beef – with the same flavour, aroma and nutrition you know and love”. Right Treat claims its Omnipork “is the first plant-based ‘pork’ that bleeds and tastes like ground pork in Asia”, adding it is “nutritionally superior and environmentally friendly”.

As these meat substitutes become increasingly available, experts are taking a close look at their nutritional make-up to see how they stack up against the “real” deal – which has been shown to be less than ideal.

High red meat consumption is associated with a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses such as colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer, for example. In 2015, the World Health Organisation classified processed red meat as a carcinogen.

Research shows eating red meat can affect a person’s brain functioning, too. The Singapore Chinese Health Study published in June this year in the European Journal of Nutrition found a link between high red meat consumption and cognitive decline in later life.

The study gauged the dietary habits of nearly 17,000 people through a questionnaire. The subjects were visited three times, including a final follow up 20 years later. It concluded that “a higher intake of red meat in midlife was associated with increased likelihood of cognitive impairment in later life”.

Wong Chi-wing, director of food and dietetics at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, did a nutritional analysis of nine different patty brands, both plant-based and meat-based, each of which weighed about four ounces (about 110g) and contained about 250 calories.

Wong, a vegetarian, discovered that the plant-based patties were mostly quite similar in nutritional make-up to their meaty counterparts. However, the plant-based burgers had two clear benefits in terms of cholesterol and fibre content.

The plant-based burgers were cholesterol-free (versus 71mg per 100g in a beef patty from US retailer Wal-Mart) and contained about 2g of fibre (versus zero in traditional burgers).

The fat levels were similar – 17g in a meat patty from US retailer Wal-Mart, versus around 18g in the meat-free versions such as Beyond Meat’s.

Wong’s chief concern was the substitute meats’ sodium content.

“For vegetarian items you are always concerned about the sodium,” he said, adding that the plant-based patties contained about 345mg on average versus only 66mg in the Wal-Mart beef patty.

Wong said it is recommended that the daily intake of sodium should not exceed 2,000mg.

Besides the differences in cholesterol and fibre, Wong declined to say if the substitute meats are healthier than real burgers. He said only that they are an “alternative” with some benefits.

Plant-based burgers may be free of cholesterol, but eating them doesn’t lower cholesterol levels, Wong cautioned. To do that, eat fresh or wholesome high-fibre fare – consider bean- or vegetable-based burgers, with patties crafted from wholesome ingredients such as pulses, seeds and oatmeal, he suggested.

Wong urged consumers not to instinctively equate vegetarian food with healthy fare. “Let’s take French fries, which are deep-fried. It’s vegetarian – but not healthy.”

Those suffering from high blood pressure or cardiovascular concerns should be watchful of sodium and cholesterol intake, cut down on red meat to reduce heart-disease risk, and consider cholesterol-lowering high-fibre foods instead, Wong advised.

Despite meat-free burgers’ seemingly limited benefits, Wong favours this trend towards more plant-based offerings as it may nudge ardent carnivores to embrace vegetarian choices.

Opocensky collaborated with Impossible Foods to introduce more vegan options to Beef and Liberty’s menus, with the eatery becoming the first burger chain in Asia to offer the company’s plant-based burger. Impossible burgers are now its second bestseller, after the bacon and cheese beef burger, he said.

Wholesome vegetarian burgers are on the menu, too, but they mostly cater to its meat-free clientele. Falafel burgers and a beetroot version are all made from scratch, from wholesome ingredients, but few consumers choose those dishes, Opocensky said.

Impossible burgers are sought after by diners who can’t live without meat, who consider this alternative as a step towards eating plant-based food, Opocensky explained. In doing so, “they don’t miss out on the taste of meat, but still eat vegetables and do something good for the planet,” he said.

But ever the realist, Opocensky added: “People will not make a drastic change unless they need to for health reasons.”

Source: SCMP

Meatless Meat Sparks Backlash

Debbie Koenig wrote . . . . . . . . .

Next-generation vegan “meat” like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat has become so popular, it’s available or being tested at more than a dozen chain restaurants ranging from Burger King and Dunkin’ to KFC. Now, some industry groups and others are pushing back.

A pair of congressmen — one Democrat and one Republican — have introduced the Real MEAT Act of 2019, which would require faux-meat companies to use the word “imitation” on packaging.

“A growing number of fake meat products are clearly trying to mislead consumers about what they’re trying to get them to buy,” Jennifer Houston, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says in a statement.

And even the CEOs of some leading natural-foods companies have raised concerns.

Last week, the food industry-backed Center for Consumer Freedom ran a full-page ad in The New York Times with the headline, “What’s Hiding in Your Plant-Based Meat?” The ad blasts vegan meats as “ultra-processed imitations with dozens of ingredients.” This echoes concerns voiced by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, in an August interview.

“The [brands] who are capturing the imagination of people — and I’m not going to name these brands because I’m afraid I will be associated with the critique of it,” Mackey told CNBC Make It, “but some of these that are extremely popular now that are taking the world by storm, if you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods.”

These newfangled veggie burgers do have longer ingredients lists than a burger made with nothing but ground beef and maybe some salt. And a recent study out of the National Institutes of Health found that people who eat ultra-processed foods tend to take in more calories. But does that automatically make meat substitutes suspect? Not necessarily, says Debbie Petitpain, a registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutritionally, plant-based meat is lower in fat and offers fiber that red meat doesn’t have, without any of beef’s cholesterol. It also won’t have antibiotics or animal hormones, which are often found in beef.

“It’s similar to other processed foods in sodium content, and it has the potential to crowd out real vegetables, real grains. But the meat analogues definitely have their place,” she says. “At the ballpark, a meat analogue burger is a great way to get a vegetarian meal that isn’t nachos with cheese sauce.”

Beyond the question of nutrition, fake-meat burgers offer a larger benefit: A recent study says beef has an environmental impact 20 to 100 times higher than plant-based foods. “The Impossible Burger has significant public health benefits because it uses only a fraction of the land, water and energy it takes to produce a burger from cows, and it doesn’t contribute to the antibiotics arms race or the well-known risk of antibiotic resistance,” says Rachel Konrad, chief communications officer for Impossible Foods.

So, should you eat a faux-meat burger every day? Probably not, just as you probably shouldn’t eat a beef burger daily. But if you love the taste of meat and want to eat less of it, they can be a place to start, experts say.

Back in 2013, Whole Foods, whose CEO said these products are “super, highly processed,” provided a launching pad for Beyond Meat, one of the leading vegan meat companies. Those stores still sell Beyond Meat’s line, as well as a wide array of similar products. In that interview, Mackey told CNBC Make It he still believes in using meat substitutes as a transition food, a first step toward a more plant-based diet.

“It’s providing people with more choice, and that’s a good thing,” says Petitpain. “But we still want to include real vegetables in our diet.”

Source: WebMD

Study: Gut Bacteria Work in Teams – Here’s Why that’s Important for Your Health

Mario Falchi wrote . . . . . . . . .

Our digestive tract hosts trillions of microbes, mainly bacteria, that help us digest food, make vitamins, strengthen the immune system, protect against germs, and produce molecules that affect many aspects of our health. Studying the microbial composition of the gut used to be extremely complicated. To identify them, they had to be cultured in the lab. And many could not even be grown there.

Recent advances in DNA sequencing have helped scientists to get around this problem. We can now identify microbes from their DNA, which can be done by sequencing DNA extracted from stool samples. We can now discover which microbes are inhabiting our gut, what functions they carry out, and how they interact with the surrounding environment and influence our metabolism and health.

While research has mainly focused on the health effects of single microbial species, our latest study reveals that microbial teamwork is actually much more important than a single species working alone.

Microbes work in groups to perform different functions, using what is available in the gut (which mainly comes from our diet) and producing molecules that then influence our metabolism.

By sequencing the microbial DNA we can identify those “fingerprints” that allow us to distinguish one species from another. We can also study their genes and predict the functions they perform.

Large twin study

Using a thousand twins from the TwinsUK cohort, we compared how people differ in their gut microbial species, and how they differ in terms of the functions carried out by bacterial teams.

While we share only 43% of gut microbial species, 82% of the microbial functions are exactly the same. Indeed, different microbes can perform similar functions.

We then measured hundreds of molecules in the gut and in the bloodstream – representative of microbial and human metabolism – and checked if their abundance was more strongly linked to the presence of particular microbial species or the microbial functions performed by microbial teams. Again, teamwork won, with microbial functions being more important than single microbes, as they showed a larger number of associations with the molecular composition of both gut and blood environments.

We found both gut species and microbial functions interact with almost all molecules measured in the gut, which is not surprising, as it’s where they live. More interesting was the fact that almost half of the molecules measured in blood also showed an association with the gut microbes, with microbial functions carried out by microbial teams showing eightfold more associations than individual species.

An extensive dialog goes on between the gut environment and our blood, and this explains why gut microbes are so strongly linked to our health. We estimate that 93% of this dialog involves microbial functions.

The gut microbial community plays an important role in human health, and its composition has been linked to many diseases – from metabolic to neurological. Fortunately, we can manipulate our gut microbial composition through diet, lifestyle, taking prebiotics and probiotics, and even through faecal transplants.

Our research suggests that future treatments to improve human health should focus on targeting microbial teams and their functions, rather than single microbial species.

Source: The Conversation

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