Plymouth restaurant’s 3D-printed vegan meat put to the test of taste – so could we tell the difference?

It’s the plant-based alternative that has fooled foodies into thinking it’s the real thing, but could a shepherd’s pie made with ‘3D-printed meat’ be pulling the wool over your eyes? of a Plymouth Live hack? There was only one way to find out – send a crack team of foodie reporters to the city’s Crowne Plaza hotel to do a taste test.

Editor William Telford and photographer Matt Gilley were chosen to, uh, shred the proposed “3D-printed vegetable meat” as a pilot at the hotel’s Marco Pierre White Steakhouse. The restaurant has partnered with groundbreaking food company Redefine Meat to offer plant-based dishes that are meant to look and taste like their flesh-and-blood counterparts.

The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, on the top floor of the Crowne Plaza on Armada Way, piloted the Redefine Shepherd’s Pie with buttered peas, £16.95, alongside its traditional lamb version. The special vegan menu also included the Redefine A La Marocaine stuffed eggplant with pork, with crispy celery leaves, at £14.50.

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William being already vegan and the Redefine Shepherd’s Pie being only vegetarian due to the milk in the pastry, he offered to try the vegan stuffed eggplant, leaving the intrepid Matt to tackle two shepherd’s pie and see if he could make the difference. The verdict was that they looked identical, but when it came to taste, the difference was palpable.

“They both smelled the same and didn’t seem different,” Matt said. But when he took a bite, the real meat dish was a much meatier option. He said: “The texture was thicker, richer, the vegetable base was more watery. But instead the Redefine Meat was good, I liked it. And if I hadn’t tried the meat first, I might not have noticed it wasn’t meat. Overall I preferred the meat dish, but couldn’t knock the other one.



pork-stuffed aubergine redefined the Moroccan way served at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth

William, who has been a vegetarian since he was a teenager and a vegan for six years, couldn’t quite remember what the meat tasted like anyway, so couldn’t tell if the Redefine version was a lookalike for a piece of animal dead. But he said it was one of the best plant-based alternatives he had tried, being nicely spiced, smooth and not rubbery, and it went well with the tender eggplant.

Redefine Meat was established in 2018 to create the world’s first “3D-printed plant-based steak” that mimics the muscle structure of animals with a vegan alternative. It launched in Israel in 2021 and claims to be the first company to market plant-based whole cuts – a technological breakthrough that not only looks like a steak or lamb chop, but has also the same texture when eaten.

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Redefine Meat uses 3D printing technology to incorporate plant proteins into the shape, texture and mouthfeel of meat. The company – which hasn’t revealed its recipe, but is believed to contain soy, pea protein, beetroot, chickpeas and coconut fat – has now spread to Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, where Mr. White was so impressed he brought the product to his Plymouth operation.

Mr White said the rise in the number of non-animal dishes comes as more and more guests switch to a plant-based diet, and with celebrities such as motor racing champion Sir Lewis Hamilton being gone vegan, the lifestyle choice is becoming increasingly popular. Helping to reduce obesity, blood pressure, and lower levels of type 2 diabetes, many also change for health reasons.

The no-nonsense chef and celebrity restaurateur now hopes customers will enjoy the new dishes that sit alongside the usual favourites. Tui Donovan, food and beverage assistant at Plymouth Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, said the Redefine product was “the closest thing you’re going to get to meat” and said the response to the pilot had been “really positive”. She said: “Lots of people order it and everyone has said good things about it.”

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