Ashville, NC-based startup No Evil Foods is changing that though and bringing these two trends together with their line-up of “small batch, sustainable, simple & kind” plant-based meats that ditch protein isolates in favor of “simple, recognizable ingredients,” according to company co-founder Sadrah Schadel.
She explained to FoodNavigator-USA at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City this month that No Evil Foods takes a “kitchen grown approach to making our plant meats, while still giving you a true meat experience.”
To Schadel this means skipping the isolated proteins that often are used by competitors in favor of a chickpea and European wheat flour base, that is texturized and seasoned to make four very different products, including the Comrade Cluck “no chicken” variety, a “bright and bold Mexican style fresh chorizo sausage,” an Italian sausage that comes in links and a pulled pork barbeque alternative that is smoked over hickory wood and simmered in a sorghum molasses sauce.
Even though the company doesn’t use protein isolates, it claims the products’ taste and texture can “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with traditional proteins without even flinching.”
Schadel explained that she achieved this even though she was raised vegetarian and doesn’t have a memory bank to access the flavor and textures of animal protein because she took a “butchers approach to protein,” and she worked closely with meat-eaters who helped her adjust the seasoning and texture until it was just right.
“At its core, what people want is good food and they want something they can sink their teeth into and holds its own to a variety of environments from braising to smoking to sautéing and sops and doesn’t fall apart and go to mush,” she said, adding, “So, really texture was first and foremost, but we also wanted the flavor to standout as well without getting lost with the other ingredients in the dish.”
A better-for-you nutritional profile
While the company says the texture and mouthfeel makes consumers “feel almost guilty,” the nutritionals don’t.
“We are also seeing people really responding to our product from a health perspective,” Schadel said. “We don’t have any added fats or oils in what we do. It is all cholesterol free. So it is very low fat, cholesterol free, very rich in protein. So people who are on limited or special diets or just want to feel better from a day to day perspective are really leaning towards sour products, and then once they taste them they are sold to us for life.”
The brand’s clean labels and healthy nutritional profile are fueling rapid growth, which No Evil Foods is ready to meet with plans to move into a new production facility this fall that is 16,000 square feet.
It also is prepping new products including a plant-based jerky and a holiday centerpiece teasingly called The Pardon, which can easily sub in for a turkey or other traditional proteins served during holiday celebrations. Beyond that it promises an “interesting and exciting innovation pipeline” that will keep consumers coming back for more in the coming years.