For those who don’t love the idea of eating burgers made from lab-grown meat, a Dutch company has produced a vegetarian version of the “Frankenburger.” Vegetarian Butcher transforms vegetables and plants into “meat” to make hamburgers with an environmental footprint that is seven times lower than of a real hamburger, according to the company’s founder Jaap Korteweg.

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Instead of using cells taken from a living cow and growing strands of meat in the lab, as done by scientists in London, the Dutch company uses plants to make their veggie “hamburger” patties, “meatballs” and “tuna” salads. One of the key ingredients is soy paste, which is pressurized to imitate meat fibers. Different plants are used to represent different kinds of meat. For instance, beef is made from a mix of carrots, peas and potatoes, along with various herbs and spices.

Vegetarian Butcher has been selling its products for three years in supermarkets all over the Netherlands. The products are slightly more expensive than real meat and there have been issues with naming Vegetable Butcher’s products. Jos Goebbels, head of the Dutch Central Meat Sector Organisation (COV), claims that the company should not be using terminology specific to meat since consumers have a right to know exactly what they are eating.

However controversial, various alternatives to meat are increasingly present in the food market, and environmental groups are working to get the average consumer interested. Olof van der Gaag, campaign manager of the environmental group Natuur & Milieu, believes vegetarian food is the way to go; according to him, if every one of the 17 million people living in the Netherlands eats one less meat-based meal a day, carbon emissions cold be cut to an equivalent of one million cars.

+ Vegetarian Butcher