Plant-based meats are easy to find at almost any grocery store, however, there’s not many options for whole mussel meat alternatives.
That’s why some Guelph University students are researching vegan meats and cheeses.
“We wanted to use a sustainable, low cost technique to develop a fibre system that is high in protein,” said Stacie Dobson, Ph.D. student at the University of Guelph.
They worked with the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan. Through the beamline, they were able to find the right ingredients to create realistic vegan meats and cheeses.
“What the CLS enables us to do is use light to literally see what we’re eating and what we’re making,” said Jarvis Stobbs, Canadian Light Source Plant Imaging Lead.
The goal was to replicate real cheese by making it stringy, oozy, and stretchy, and replicate real meat by making it tender, muscly, and tasty.
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“We were able to kind of dig into the fibre structure and look at how the different parts of the protein in the starches make up that matrix. And if they’re interacting,” said Dobson.
However, that’s not possible without the beamline at the CLS.
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“What we do is take real cheeses and we can image those to see what they’re microstructure looks like, what we can do is we take our ingredients and kind of mimic those and make analogs of these cheeses or analog meats and what we can do is modify those ingredients or the recipe, to kind of match real cheeses,” said Stobbs.
The team continues to work together and use resources like the CLS.
“It’s just great to collaborate with researchers from across the country and across the world and to be involved in any capacity is just a real big privilege and just being in this cool facility is always amazing,” said Stobbs.
“I feel as though I’m able to hopefully make a product that people will want to eat and is going to be sustainable, healthy and help our environment ultimately,” said Dobson.
Dobson says she feels like she’s able to make a product that people will want to eat, that is going to be sustainable and healthy and in the long run, help out the environment.