People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has named a Richmond business as its company of the year for developing food that looks, tastes and feels like meat, but isn't.
Garden Protein International manufactures Gardein, a trademarked meat substitute made entirely from vegetable sources that it sells as an ingredient to vegetarian food producers around the world.
The faux chicken breasts and meatless beef strips taste so good that it will "fool even the most diehard meat-eater," said Matt Rice, assistant manager of campaigns at PETA's Norfolk, Va.
And with taste like that, PETA is convinced people will stop eating the real thing.
"As more and more people become aware of the cruelty involved in raising and killing chickens and other animals for their flesh, people are turning toward more animal-friendly alternatives," Rice said.
So by providing "delicious accessible alternatives," Garden Protein promotes a more humane way of living and is worthy of a PETA Proggy (for progress) Award, Rice said.
Garden Protein is the brain child of Yves Potvin, the founder of Yves Veggie Gourmet. Potvin first developed the faux meats when he was still operating the retail burger company. In 2001, with the number of competitors in the market growing, Potvin decided to sell out and focus on Gardein.
Now Garden Protein has 85 employees in a 50,000-sq.-ft. plant in Richmond, and sells its products to companies like President's Choice and Kellogg's, Potvin said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he is vacationing. Last year sales were $50 million and Potvin expects that to increase another 50 per cent this year.
Potvin's vision is to have retail vegetarian products stamped "made with Gardein" on the packaging, much as computers today advertise "Intel inside."
Garden Protein has also launched its own retail product line, called It's All Good.
Vegetarians aren't his only customers, Potvin says. People who like to eat meat, but are looking for high-protein alternatives to round out a healthy diet - much like Potvin himself - are also buying the products.
And at 28 grams of protein and 140 calories per 100 grams, it is healthy.
"But more important than anything is that it tastes good and has a fantastic texture," Potvin said. "Once they try it, 95 per cent of people say 'this is so good I would buy it.' "read full article