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Tomorrow Today

Food chemist Sascha Rohn of the University of Hamburg

joins us in the studio to talk about the nutritional benefits of meat substitutes.

Watch video 03:48

DW: Mister Rohn, would you care for a vegetarian steak?

Sascha Rohn: I think the idea behind it is really interesting and this it is a really good innovation. But I think we are in the first steps of getting such a product into the supermarket, because taste as well consistency is a problem. But we are looking forward to have such a good product in the supermarket in the future.

Instead of disguising plant proteins as meat, we could also just eat legumes like peas or beans. How come the cultivation of these plants is actually being decreased?

That is because of a traditional view: The recipes in the past were kind of boring and the taste was boring as well. But now we are trying to get some innovation into these products. From an ecological point of view this could be really good for our farmland, and for the production.

Why is that?

Because these plants have some benefits for follow-up plants. There could be a really good diversity in the field, improving the soil, improving the follow up plants, without much pesticide use - these are really good advantages.

But the key point would be to pitch peas and beans to make them more attractive to us. How do you want to proceed?

We try to get some innovative products into the markets. We work for example with noodles, because there are some benefits for the human nutrition. When you make noodles from pure pea meal, the product is gluten free. This would be really a good product for consumers who suffer from celiac disease.

Would these noodles actually still taste like peas or beans, or do you just extract the proteins?

No, they still taste like peas. This is one of the problems we still have. But on the other hand it could also seen as an add-on flavor. You could do some innovative recipes where you especially use noodles from peas and not from wheat because of that special flavour.

We already have soy and tofu products on the market. Aren’t they good enough?

They are really good, but I think from a global point of view. Diversity is necessary to get more plants and more products into the market. Soy is really dominating, but when you take a look at Europe, we have some regions that are really good for pea and bean production. We do not have good farmland for soy, for example.

This could also help us get out of this problematic situation with raising cattle and all the ecological problems following from that?

Yes, absolutely. I think there will be a niche maybe for this ‘veggie meat’ but I think we still need the original meat. If there are some alternatives for example, then we have a good diversity in the market.

Interview by: Ingolf Bauer