When you hear the term alternative proteins, your thoughts likely jump to plant-based foods, or maybe even cultured meat.
But there’s actually a third way to create high-protein meat alternatives without plants by leveraging a relatively old technology, and that is fermentation. At SKS 2019, Dr. Lisa Dyson of Air Protein, Perumal Gandhi of Perfect Day, and Morgan Keim of Motif FoodWorks discussed how their companies are using genetically engineered microbes to ferment sustainable, highly customizable proteins.
If you’re intrigued by all the buzz around the alternative protein space, it’s worth watching the whole video below. (You get to learn how Air Protein makes protein from air, c’mon.) Here are a few takeaways from the conversation:
Fermented protein is super sustainable
Plant-based protein is certainly more environmentally friendly than animal protein, but fermented protein has the potential to be even more sustainable. Dr. Dyson noted that their protein is made using only energy (which can come from solar or wind) and elements of the air. Bonus: unlike farming, it can scale vertically, is independent of weather conditions, and makes protein incredibly quickly.
It’s more efficient, too
One of the perks of fermenting protein is you can get really granular about which molecules you want to create, eliminating waste. “If you just want one part of, say, a dairy molecule, why create the whole thing?” asked Keim onstage. “Why not just make the one part you actually need?” Having that sort of control over the protein leads to more efficient R&D processes for all sorts of animal alternative products.
Fermentation isn’t *that* out of this world
Dr. Dyson noted that growing protein from fermentation “may sound like science fiction,’ but it’s actually quite close to our current standard methods of growing many staple foods — including yogurt and beer.
Gandhi echoed this sentiment. Perfect Day, which dubbed their proteins “flora-based” after the microflora used to create them, noted that fermenting protein isn’t anything new. “We’ve been using it for 40 years now,” Gandhi said. “We’re just applying [the technology] in a new way.”
Watch the full video below to learn more about what Keim called “the next generation of what non-animal foods will be.” It’ll make you rethink the protein on your plate.