First it was sushi, then sushi, then waffle tacos. Now, they’re all making their way to plant-based meats. In fact, the deep dish is attracting a wider variety of foodies — but while our taste buds have made that leap, most of the country still knows it’s a diet item. Although, some people just aren’t quite ready for tofu or seitan — yet.
Deli Joint, a Brooklyn-based vegan (and inclusive, general veggie) restaurant, opened in August 2015, but it’s been delighting health-minded carnivores, vegans and vegetarians for at least a decade. In early 2017, the Pan-Asian restaurant launched their newest line of meat alternatives, Plant-Based Foods, and as any expert knows, every change can make a difference.
Over the years, the vegan kitchen has created tangerine tuna and salmon and tofu, and the Tofurky that have us raving over the flavors. The restaurant’s creative team is led by Chef Greg Staake, who started his career with his uncle, famous chef Walter Staake. “When my uncle was in his twenties, he created the first regular-looking Thanksgiving turkey — a big turkey with marshmallows,” Chef Staake told Vogue earlier this year.
Then there’s the deli industry as a whole, which has been a huge barrier to plant-based meat restaurants succeeding. In 2016, the Pew Research Center reported that 62 percent of American adults avoided shopping at meat markets because they didn’t want to feel left out. And because of this, Kroger, the supermarket giant, has invested heavily in meat products (they launched their own line of frozen foods in 2013). Of course, when times are tough, money gets tight. Could we be witnessing an irreversible shift to plant-based meat options?
“Plant-based meats represent a new wave of the broader social movement against meat,” Lisa Harris, a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Times. She called out the “habitual eating of animal flesh in virtually every major country in the world” because of the way it can affect the environment.
“[It] is one of the most large contributors to global warming. It also produces tremendous amounts of land, water, and grain for crops to be turned into meat, while fattening cows and pigs in typically inhumane ways,” said former PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a 2013 interview with The New York Times.
So if you’re a vegan or you’re just not sure if plant-based meat can replace your favorites, a lot of studies support their viability. Here’s the one from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (PDF) that cited a beef and swine “free-range” cow delivered an “8.5 lb. lamb tenderloin of marinated loin steak was made free-range using milk and milk derivatives from real animal products, mostly milk. This gave the new lamb tenderloin 8.5 lb. of meat for every 1 lb. of milk/dairy derivative added, an increase of 4.7 percent over a regular beef tenderloin tenderloin.” Although that study showed that increased protein and fat intake did result in an increased cholesterol level, it also linked the beef to “increased physical activity and more self-control, resulting in higher quality of life among the subjects and improved quality of life among the study subjects,” the study reported. “Overall, we conclude that people with higher levels of milk protein were better able to focus and think and also tended to exert more physical effort during exercise.” (Read more about the science behind meat-eating at iNews Digest.)
But there’s no small part of this data being based on the consumption of the cow itself. “It is not enough to reduce the amount of animal proteins in the diet. We must also reduce the quantity of animal species that we consume,” a study published in the Journal of Scientific Propositions found in 2014. It concludes that people with a “control attitude” about animal consumption, will only “be able to decrease the production and consumption of animal proteins” by switching to diets that minimize the consumption of “high-fat meats.”
Of course, there are still those who will try new foods, and then there’s Vetri. The restaurant’s owner, Joe Bastianich, previously made news when he publicly dispelled the myth that vegetarian and vegan meals are just boring