5 Plant-Based Meat Alternatives And Where To Find Them In Singapore
World Meat Free Week (June 17-23) has come and gone, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue our journey towards a healthier diet, given the negative effects eating too much meat has on our body and planet.
Thankfully, we live in a world where, through science, we don't have to settle for replicas that taste bland and boring. We're now blessed with many options that—through science—bleed, sizzle and taste like the real thing.
Here are just some of the plant-based varieties available in Singapore, and where to find them.
Grand Hyatt Singapore was the first to introduce Beyond Meat, founded by Ethan Brown, in Southeast Asia in 2018. Says F&B director Sebastian Kern, this was led by the hotel’s goal of redefining their plant-based options. “We chose Beyond Burger for its ability to cook and taste like conventional meat patties… it was a unanimous decision based on its taste and texture.”
The faux meat, served at mezza9, is made from a mixture of pea protein, canola oil, and refined coconut oil, but what gives it its red tinge (similar to medium-rare steak) is the beetroot juice extract and a substance called annatto—a type of food colouring derived from achiote seeds.
While Beyond Meat was originally exclusive to Grand Hyatt Singapore, more restaurants have added it to their menus, two of which are Wolf Burgers and Lime Restaurant. The product is also sold in selected supermarkets.
(Related: Can You Handle A Meat-Free Future?)
The meat-free alternative backed by the likes of Bill Gates and Temasek Holdings is arguably the most popular option in Singapore. In fact, it debuted at eight restaurants in March of this year, and more have followed suit.
Perhaps the reason is it “bleeds like real meat”, which director of international launches Jordan Sadowsky attributes to a molecule called “heme”. This is extracted from the protein soy leghemoglobin naturally found in soy roots, and blended with soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil and potato protein for an “explosion of meaty flavours”.
The taste is so close to the meat that culinary director Joshua Brown of Cut, who serves this as beef sliders, explains, “When you try Impossible Foods and Kobe beef, you would think that the former is grass-fed and the latter grain-fed.”
Also available at Adrift by David Myers, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, Bread Street Kitchen, Empress, Privé Orchard, Potato Head Singapore, Three Buns Quayside, PS.Cafe, Violet Oon Singapore and Rang Mahal.
(Related: 8 Restaurants To Try Impossible Foods)
Believe it or not, Quorn has been in the market longer than Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods, though it didn’t gain much traction in the local dining scene until recently. It was invented in the UK in 1985 as a food option for vegetarians, and eventually extended its offerings to accommodate vegans.
Its range of products includes chicken nuggets, fillets and sausages made from fusarium venenatum (which grows rapidly in the fields of Southeast England), a healthy fungus (hence, the mild earthy tones) that’s fermented the same way you make bread or beer.
Ichiban Bento is one of the few restaurants serving it in their range of meat-free bento options as tsukune (meatball) bento, katsu curry bento, nuggets with yuzukosho dip and chawanmushi. More recently, and in celebration of Meat-Free week, Soup Spoon joined the bandwagon with its Quornscious soups available for a limited period only.
(Related: The Future Of Food Might Be Plant-Based "Meat")
The idea of Omnipork began when David Yeung, founder of vegetarian grocery store Green Common in Hong Kong, noticed there weren't any pork alternatives available. Given that pork is the most consumed meat in China, he launched this product made with shiitake mushrooms, peas, non-GMO soy and rice, that mimic the look, texture and taste of the real thing. It’s now available in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Singapore.
Chinese executive chef Leong Chee Yeng of Jade Restaurant was very much convinced after his own personal vegan journey, so he created a plant-based vegan menu dubbed “Taste the Future”, using Omnipork paired with over 30 fruits, vegetables and other natural ingredients like beancurd skin, soy milk and seaweed.
For instance, his classic vegetarian combination features vegan meat stuffed with pickled apple, cherry tomato, and steamed vegetarian dumpling using Omnipork encased in housemade dumpling skin. The same goes for the cucumber soup studded with seaweed vegan meat wanton, and braised vegan meat topped with fried rice.
With Grand Hyatt Singapore’s commitment to sustainability, an initiative they started eight years ago, they’ve introduced more plant-based options to the menu—including Just Egg. It’s from a company created by Tetrick and Josh Balk in 2011 that started with eggless mayonnaise and salad dressing.
Just Egg is made with mung bean protein and sold in liquid form that, when cooked, resembles scrambled eggs in both flavour and texture. Currently, it’s available at Oasis as a Just Egg sandwich layered with housemade tomato chutney and guacamole.