Vegan bacon sizzles on a skillet at the headquarters of a French company whose mission to create the “holy grail” of the expanding plant-based meat sector has gotten Hollywood actress Natalie Portman’s financial backing.
La Vie, a Paris-based startup, has collected 25 million euros ($28.3 million) from investment institutions and climate-conscious celebrities such as actress Natalie Portman, who is a vegan.
If not the first to market with plant-based bacon, La Vie’s makers are counting on perfecting fake pork fat to set it apart from the competition.
Nicolas Schweitzer, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, said, “We’re the only ones in the world today to have succeeded in developing a vegetable fat that cooks, fries, infuses and browns” like animal fat.
The rashers of La Vie’s imitation smoked bacon were golden brown, crispy, and tasted comparable to the genuine McCoy after several minutes on the frying pan.
The lardons come next. The meat and fat portions brown beautifully as well, however they are a little salty.
Vincent Poulichet, 32, the company’s scientific specialist and another co-founder, stated, “We have a reduced salt version as well.”
On France’s “Nutri-Score” food health grading system, the lardons scored a C, which is in the center of the A to E range.
“Worse than broccoli, but better than pork lardons,” the company notes wryly on its website.
Plant-based components are being used to substitute beef, poultry, and pigs in a variety of products developed by both startups and established food companies.
Making fake bacon taste like genuine bacon, on the other hand, is a difficult task.
Making bacon, steak, and raw chicken, according to Ethan Brown, CEO of industry leader Beyond Meat, was the “holy grail” last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Concerns over animal rights and the industry’s impact on the environment are driving an increasing number of people to decrease or remove meat from their diets.
In addition to the 10% of individuals who are vegetarian or vegan, according to a 2021 analysis by market research firm Euromonitor International, more over one in four consumers worldwide are striving to decrease their meat intake.
Fairfield, a London-based market research group, predicts that between 2021 and 2026, the market for plant-based meat would expand by roughly 19 percent yearly, reaching $13 billion.
5,000 Trials Later
The creators of La Vie, who founded the firm in 2019, think that winning customers over via flavor is the actual key to success.
“After three years of research and 5,000 trials we succeeded in the somewhat crazy challenge of reproducing the taste of pork,” stated Schweitzer, 34.
Sunflower oil and carefully treated water are used to make the fat in La Vie’s fake bacon and lardons.
Soy protein, salt, natural colorants obtained from radish peels and tomatoes, and natural tastes make up the meat portion.
Portman became a financial sponsor of La Vie after evaluating its goods at home in the United States.
“It was by giving people a taste of our products that we managed to put together this extraordinary round of financing… Right away, investors said, ‘Oh, yeah!’” said Schweitzer.
Oyster Bay, Seventure, and Partech, as well as the owners of other successful European businesses including Oatly, Vinted, Back Market, and BlaBlaCar, participated in the fundraising round.
Markets in the United Kingdom and the United States
La Vie maintains that their bacon is healthier for humans, the environment, and, of course, pigs.
According to the firm, their products have less than a tenth of the saturated fat of genuine bacon, and its manufacturing produces fewer carbon emissions and consumes less water.
La Vie’s fake lardons are now available in Carrefour stores, and the company plans to get them on the shelves of all major supermarkets in France by 2022.
It also sees vegan and vegetarian restaurants as crucial to increasing the number of people who try its goods.
La Vie hopes to have its goods on British stores by April, and then quickly expand into the lucrative US market.
La Vie, which has teamed with a well-known maker of cold cuts and prepared dishes, wants to soon expand its workforce to 60 people.
Source: “Natalie Portman, French firm work to create vegan bacon” by The Times of Israel