Vegan Luxury – An Evolution From Fashion to Food
From handbags made of fungus to 3D printed steak, veganism is trending up to the mainstream crowd.
It’s a trend that should not have caught anyone by surprise — we are now well into a solid merging of the growing luxury market and the snowballing trend towards animal-free living. Even brands that seem improbable adopters have gotten on board with luxury handbag maker Hermès offering the Hermès Victoria, made from Sylvania, a leathery fabric created from fungus (which is not at all cheaper than its leather version), and Porsche offering a ‘vegan interior’ on one of its sportscar models. There is vegan caviar, which is being refined and developed for even more luxurious tastes, vegan alcohol, and vegan food. When one thinks of luxury and vegan food, however, the first association may be one of those trendy ‘raw’ restaurants that popped up in every chic district of every major city over the last decade, where, for a premium, gourmet chefs prepare many-course meals with the only ingredients being uncooked plants. Such meals were delicious and interesting, but unaffordable for most.
On the other side of the luxury barrier, those seeking premium vegan foods at a supermarket were often disappointed with their options. There’s the trendy ‘bleeding burger’ and other meat substitutes — but nothing you would want to write home about. For the most part, when you ordered a ‘veggie burger’ it tasted like it was made of veggies. But as we move towards 2025, the distinction between real and substitute meat is blurring. We now live in a world where the closest approximation to the textures and flavours of animal meat has been created — with the help of a 3D printer running AI algorithms under the supervision of butchers, taste experts, chefs, and scientists.
This ‘real’ fake meat development will come as welcome news to those who are aware of the numerous answers to ‘why eating meat is bad for the environment?’ but haven’t been able to imagine giving up the flavours, smells, and mouthfeel of meat, which it must be said is an important evolutionary part of the human experience to many. Even more welcoming news is that such high-tech meat substitutes will soon be less expensive, although premium versions will continue to be offered by producers.
We are now almost at a place where you would be able to decide to order the 3D printed vegan kabab instead of an ordinary lamb kabab because it’s 99 per cent similar in taste and texture while being healthier for both you and the environment. Don’t take our word for it. See what celebrity chef Marco Pierre White had to say in his review late last year in The Guardian. He and barbecue expert Ben Bartlett gave 3D printed meat scores you would not expect from a chef who previously reportedly owned shares in steakhouses and was cited by the late chef, writer, and TV host — and anti-vegan — Anthony Bourdain as a major influence, and Bartlett, who is as noted, a barbecue expert.
It’s not like this is the first time the vegan trend has marched in step with fashion or those who desire to live the ‘better life’. Plenty of high-society individuals have already adopted either the diet or the entire lifestyle, and we’ve heard vegan pitches from celebrities for decades. How effective such endorsements have been is debatable, but no matter one’s take on veganism, there’s now no denying that it is gone beyond a trend and become a phenomenon. Tens of millions of people each year are deciding to give up meat while tens of millions more are adopting the so-called ‘flexitarian diet’, reducing meat, especially processed meat or red meat, in favour of a more plant-centric diet. The plant-based protein market is exploding in value. To bridge the worlds of the Soho raw food restaurant and the supermarket shelf is no easy task. Still, it appears that high-tech new meat substitutes are poised to do exactly that and become a product that is welcomed by both celebrity chefs and microwave dinner connoisseurs.
It’s an exciting new development as the main issue with many of the previous iterations of substitute meat was their decided lack of meatiness. Entrepreneurs and startups are producing this new generation of faux meat with a new mindset. While they concede that the meat industry is unsustainable and harmful to the environment, their primary concern is producing substitutes that can win over meat-eaters, including barbecue experts and celebrity shifts. Because of this more non-judgmental and humanistic approach to satisfying the cravings and desires of most people for animal protein, they are getting noticed by people who previously likely wouldn’t have even been willing to give it a try.
For now, 3D printed steak — for example — remains a higher-priced item that has yet to make it to store shelves globally, but the Chef Whites and Ben Bartletts of the world, and their trendy friends, have sampled it and given it surprisingly high marks. Within a year or two, pretty much anyone should be able to enjoy a 3D printed steak, which looks, smells, cooks, feels, and of course, tastes nearly identical to its animal counterpart — a major breakthrough for food lovers and the planet they live on.
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