Waitrose Debuts Marbled Plant-Based Steak Valentine’s Day Special

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Slovenian startup and Y-Combinator alumn Juicy Marbles has partnered with UK supermarket chain Waitrose for a Valentines Day steak dinner special featuring its vegan marbled beef alternative.

Waitrose, the premium British supermarket chain that counts over 330 stores across the country, has become the first grocery store in the U.K. to sell a plant-based filet mignon aimed at capturing the attention of both carnivores and vegans alike. According to The Telegraph, which broke the news, the products will be sold on the same shelf as animal meat steaks.

Created by Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles, the marbled vegan steaks are made from soy and wheat protein and contain nuggets of hardened sunflower oil to mimic the fat marbling of animal beef as well as beetroot powder to add juices and red color.

Instead of using 3D printing methods, Juicy Marbles’ biotechnicians use a grinder, dubbed the Meat-O-Matic 9000, to layer the plant protein fibers on top of each other, resulting in a product that closely mimics genuine muscle fibers. This result is a product that the company promises even the biggest meat lover would find hard to distinguish from the real thing.

Co-founder Luka Sincek, a microbiologist by training, told The Telegraph that technologies such as 3D printing and lab-grown meat designed to achieve plant-based beef marbling were “too complicated”, “too slow”, and had “too many behavioural barriers”. 

“That’s why we developed our own original machine – lovingly called the Meat-o-Matic Reverse Grinder 9000 – which combines a couple of existing technologies, to which we have modified and added some of our own innovations,” he added. 

The British supermarket chain has launched the Juicy Marbles steaks as part of its Valentine’s Day meal deal offer which also includes animal meat ribeye steaks and rump steaks served with sauces and priced at £10 and £9 respectively. The Juicy vegan filet mignon offer will cost shoppers £10 per 225g piece. The product will be available for purchase online and in-store, alongside other plant-based alternatives, until February 14th.

“The thing that is really exciting about this product is when cooking you see the raw protein turn into a caramelised and juicy steak that looks like the real thing,” said Waitrose executive chef Martyn Lee, executive chef of the product:

According to Juicy Marbles, the biggest challenge faced by its biotechnicians was creating a marbled steak that was both appetizing and visually similar to expensive cuts of beef.

The company’s efforts have paid off, as the steaks are already available in the US, where the startup debuted a whole-cut loin it described as the ‘biggest, most insulting piece of plant muscle ever conceived.’ In addition, the brand gained popularity last May after a viral video posted by singer Lizzo on the TikTok social media platform.

The Grammy Award winner’s video, which showed her cooking the steaks with vegan eggs, butter and rosemary, garnered over 1.7 million views. In it, she said of the product: “It has a smell that smells like meat, spam. I don’t get paid for these, so I will be honest. It has a cornbeef-like consistency, it’s good.”

The Slovenian company, co-founded by Sincek, Tilen Travnik and Maj Hrova, debuted in early 2021 with what it called the world’s first plant-based filet mignon marbled steak. In January 2022, the Y-Combinator alums raised a $4.5 seed round to scale its whole-cut vegan steak.

In a glowing Green Queen review last year, our vegan writer said that Juicy Marbles’ steaks “looked, smelled, and cooked like meat. They were so tender they didn’t need cutting because they pulled apart like perfectly aged beef that had been cooked reverently. 

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