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To meet the soaring demand for sustainable protein, Lukas Böni and his start-up company Planted are developing a plant-based meat substitute. Their first product is "chicken" made from peas—with both the texture and taste of poultry.
Meat derived not from animals but from plants? Sounds a tall order. To take it on you don't need to be a nutrition ideologist or a vegan, but more of a researcher and gourmet—like the food scientist Lukas Böni. "Although I'm a campaigner for a better world, too," he admits with a grin.
Böni - Colleagues - Pascal - Bieri - Eric
Böni and his two colleagues Pascal Bieri and Eric Stirnemann feel it's high time to provide an alternative to cheap meat from intensive livestock farming. "We know how to do it, and we have the technology to do it," he says with conviction. The three began crafting a plant-based meat imitation over one and a half years ago, and have been operating as the start-up Planted since early 2019. "Ecological rather than ideological imperatives are what motivate us," he asserts.
This is something that's key for Böni, and as he explains in one of the meeting rooms at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health not far from the ETH main building: Planted is not about telling consumers how to think, or persuading them to give up meat.
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However, meat production generates around 18 percent of global greenhouse gases, requires large amounts of land and fodder, entails excessive use of fertilizers, and leads to resistance to antibiotics. "This is why we want to offer consumers an environmentally friendly and animal-friendly substitute. A product that satisfies the cultural dimension of meat eating too, by tasting just as good," says Böni.
Something that should be possible with their "planted.chicken": a plant-based chicken made from pea protein that comes amazingly close to the real thing in appearance, texture and...
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