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National Restaurant Association - Where's the beef? Plant-based protein trends flourish at Restaurant Show

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Where's the beef? Plant-based protein trends flourish at Restaurant Show

Plant-based protein is no longer just for vegetarians. Exhibitors at the National Restaurant Association Show promoted the health and sustainability benefits of bratwurst, breakfast sausage, sliders and even egg-substitutes made from plant proteins. “We’re really happy to see all the plant-based companies here because it advances the industry,” says Stephen Moore of Before the Butcher. Here’s a taste of some the products we explored on the show exhibit floor:

Egg substitute

Who knew mung beans and tumeric could be transformed into a product that resembles and tastes like scrambled eggs? Just Inc. of San Francisco returned to the restaurant show this year with a scramble made from mung beans, oil, water and spices, including turmeric “for an extra yellow pop.” The products help restaurants cater to guests with dairy or egg allergies, specialized diets and those who look for healthful ingredients. “We work with Michelin-starred chefs to do all our product development,” says Jenna Cameron. “If it doesn’t taste good, then none of the other stuff matters.” Just previously exhibited mayo and salad dressings emulsified with Canadian yellow pea protein and cookies and cookie dough made with sorghum seed as the binding agent. Although all Just products are vegan, the company avoids the term on its labels. “Sometimes that vegan label can scare people away.”

Standout sausage solutions

Looking for the juicy, meaty taste of traditional pork sausage but without the guilt? Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage caught the attention of our FABI Award judges for its flavor profile and texture. The sausage, made from pea and fava bean protein and rice, is available as bratwurst and hot or mild, sweet Italian sausage. “The restaurant industry is starving for new products to offer vegetarians, but the irony is that most of our product is being consumed by carnivores who are trying to eat healthier,” says Jerry Galinatis. “That’s our biggest target market.” Beyond Meat also served samples of its burger made from pea and mung bean protein and its breakfast sausage, which will be available this fall.

Next-gen veg burgers

Among the other plant-based proteins at the restaurant show were Before the Butcher’s soy burger, Carla Lee’s Organic Nut Burgers and Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger.

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