Vegetarian schnitzel and sausages: Meat replacement products are booming

Vegetarian schnitzel and sausages: Meat replacement products are booming


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From soy flour: Trendy vegetarian schnitzel, burgers and sausages
Vegetarian and vegan foods have experienced a real boom in recent years. Even in conventional supermarkets there are now meatless schnitzel, burgers or sausages on the shelves. The manufacturing method is similar in some cases to the production of peanut flips. There is no uniform opinion about how healthy meat substitutes are.

Vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes
A few years ago, vegetarians or vegans were ridiculed as “grain eaters” by some people. Today, a meat-free diet is widespread in all strata of the population and regions. More and more people live vegan or vegetarian for health, ecological, moral or ethical reasons. At the same time, the market has also changed. In the past there was meat substitute that tastes like meat, almost only in a health food store or health food store, today such products can be found in almost every well-stocked supermarket. A message from the dpa news agency reports more on the production of vegetarian alternatives to meat.

Sales increased by almost 90 percent
In the laboratory hall of the German Institute for Food Technology (DIL), employee Florian Singer tipped ground soy flour into a funnel of a man-sized apparatus in the presence of deafening noise. What happens in the machine is not visible to the eye, but in the end a flat, gray dough mass pours out of a tube. Singer's colleague Hendrik Thoben cuts off rectangles about 50 centimeters long and places them in a box. This is the first step towards a meatless schnitzel. According to the Federal Association for Food Law and Food Science, the umbrella organization of the German food industry, sales of meat substitute products have increased by 88 percent in the past four years.

Meatless goods from sausage manufacturers
Even food manufacturers that have made their name with sausage and meat products now offer meatless products. The sausage manufacturer Rügenwalder Mühle, for example, currently has 16 such products on offer; including vegetarian cold cuts, schnitzel or vegetarian minced “meat”. According to dpa, Godo Röben, who is responsible for marketing, research and development at the food manufacturer, says that the first vegan products are now on the market: "At the end of 2015, vegetarian products accounted for around 20 percent of our company's sales."

"Praise - especially from consumers"
Competitor Wiesenhof has also been offering vegan meat sausages and mortadella since last September. According to the managing director of Wiesenhof Marketing, Ingo Stryck, other products will soon be on the market, including a vegetarian frozen schnitzel. "So far we have been very satisfied with the market launch and have received a lot of praise for our veggie line - especially from consumers," said Stryck. According to the dpa, the meatless schnitzel or chicken nugget starts in a production facility like the one at the DIL in Quakenbrück in the Osnabrück region. The institute was founded in the 1980s and does research and development work for medium-sized food manufacturers in the region.

Like in the production of peanut flips
DIL spokesman Sebastian Biedermann explained that the process used is called extrusion and is in principle the same method with which peanut flips are also produced. The raw material - in this case soy flour - is driven by two counter-rotating screws. Finally, under the influence of pressure, heat and water, the dough is formed, which, in contrast to the flips, does not flop up fluffily, but is intended to remind of meat, pork, beef, poultry or fish due to its texture and later "mouthfeel". "The secret lies in the cooling nozzles," says Biedermann. After the extrusion, the dough blank is cooled again, and in the end a vegetable product with the meat properties mentioned comes out: "We don't yet know what is going on at the molecular level." According to the spokesman, the DIL has been in operation for ten years researched the technology that is now used worldwide.

Taste only in the further processing
As it goes on to say, the "natural" taste of meat substitutes made from plants is neutral. A sample of the dough blank resembles a piece of edible cardboard. The product gets its final taste and appearance in further processing, for example by marinating and portioning it, Singer explained. Ingredients such as colorants or flavor enhancers are added - substances that many health-conscious people do not want on their plates. "The higher the level of processing of a food, the more ingredients and additives are used," said Silke Restemeyer of the German Nutrition Society (DGE). However, general statements are difficult because of the variety of products. For example, a simple tofu product is similar in processing to cheese.

Health benefits?
"If someone eats vegan and simply replaces the meat with highly processed meat substitute products, he doesn't necessarily end up with a balanced, wholesome vegan diet," says the nutritionist. Rather, it depends on how often you eat something like this. Experts do not answer uniformly whether vegan nutrition is good or bad for health. People who rely on purely plant-based foods do not use cholesterol, but also the important vitamin B 12. Therefore, vegans are often advised to use appropriate nutritional supplements on a long-term basis. (ad)

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Video: The Ultimate Vegan Sausage Review


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