Vegan Protein Made From Air? It’s Not as Crazy as It Sounds
It may be April, but we promise we're not fooling you with this news: Your next alternative protein could be made from air. If that sounds crazy, let us explain. Using an intricate process that compresses recycled carbon emissions, the food technology start-up Air Protein is making vegan steak, chicken, pork, and seafood, literally out of thin air. Air Protein boasts that its groundbreaking protein is carbon negative, massively scalable, and requires fewer resources to make than traditional protein.
"Air fermentation begins with the same building blocks that all plant life needs to grow – air, water, and renewable energy. Elements of the air are whisked together with our cultures until they produce protein within a matter of hours – a process similar to how yogurt, cheese, and wine are made," according to the message on Air Protein's website. "The protein that the cultures produce is harvested and purified, then dried to remove water. The result is a super-clean, protein-packed flour — nutritious, versatile, and ready to be turned into any meat."
"Finally, in a process much like the way you might turn flour into pasta, we apply culinary techniques to Air Protein flour to create textures and flavors as we work to give air meat the same great taste and texture as traditional chicken, beef, pork, and seafood."
If this sounds far more futuristic than our current food industry innovations, consider this: Vegan protein alternatives are already being made from abundant resources such as duckweed, green leaves and hemp as well as fungus and kelp. By this logic, using CO2 emissions in tandem with water and energy to create a fermented flour-like base isn't so far-fetched.
More sustainable than alternatives
One of the benefits of this unusual technique is how planet-friendly it is: Air Protein requires zero arable land to produce. All that is required is recycling purified CO2 and other elements of the air, renewable energy, water, and minerals, and then feeding those to a culture to nourish and grow protein, involving no greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
Air Protein can be made in a sustainable and efficient timeframe, according to the manufacturers. "Air meat uses 524,000 times less land and 112,000 times less water per kg than traditional meat production. It also takes considerably less time. For example, it takes two years to make a traditional steak, from the time a cow is born, fed, and grown to when it is processed. Air Protein, on the other hand, can be produced in a matter of hours or days."
Air Protein was founded in 2019 by CEO Dr. Lisa Dyson and already has superpowered names backing the brand, winning awards including the SXSW Interactive Innovation Award, the Davos World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Award, and receiving nearly 33 million dollars in investments during its Series A funding round led by ADM Ventures, Barclays, and Google Ventures (GV).
Although Air Protein is not yet available at retailers across the United States, the brand promises consumers that the launch will be soon, as the company scales up production to meet expected demand. For announcements on this timeline, follow Air Protein on Instagram.
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