It seems that every week in the world of vegan food news is more exciting than the last and this week is no exception. Starbucks is continuing its love affair with oat milk with a new beverage on its spring menu, and Juicy Marbles just released a limited run of incredibly realistic meatless filet mignon steaks. Both Denver and the San Francisco Bay Area are getting new vegan options, and this Dallas-based brand is selling their plant-based bacon like hot cakes. Read on for more.
1 Starbucks welcomes spring with a new oat milk drink
Last spring, Starbucks became a veritable oatmilk mecca when it introduced Oatly to its US stores. To encourage adoption, the coffee chain produced the Iced Brown Sugar Shaken Oatmilk Espresso, which sold out instantly in several stores, contributing to the oat milk shortage. Now Starbucks is doubling down on oat milk this spring with the introduction of the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shake Espresso.
Available from March 1st, the new drink (early dug up by Blogger Markie Devo) contains a blend of Starbucks blonde espresso and oat milk, infused with caramelized vanilla flavor. What makes this drink so special? Well, it’s made much like a shaken martini, except instead of alcohol, espresso and oat milk are hand-shaken together for an airy texture.
Starbucks is turning to non-dairy milks like oats to reduce its carbon footprint — most of which comes from dairy. If its U.S. stores didn’t start charging additional fees for dairy-free options now, the chain would be well on its way to a much more sustainable future.
2 The homecoming of Next Level Burger
In 2014, husband and wife team Matt and Cierra de Gruyter had the brilliant idea of opening a new kind of burger shop, where everything is served in a better way for animals, people and the environment. Next Level Burger’s (NLB) first location opened in Oregon, serving all the burgers, milkshakes and sides of a typical fast food restaurant, but with no animal products.
Since then, NLB has served in multiple states and operates within the Whole Foods Market, including Washington, California, New York and Texas. This week, NLB announced that its newest location will be in Denver, Colorado — planned for summer 2022 — bringing the vegan burger joint to co-founder Matt de Gruyter’s hometown for the first time.
Next level burger
“As America’s first 100 percent plant-based burger joint, we’re all about serving burgers for a better world, and we’re excited to embark on this next phase of our growth in the fight against climate change,” said Matt de Gruyter in a statement. “Since NLB’s inception, we have set out to open 1,000 stores coast to coast and this is the next chapter in that story. We’re bringing that vegetarian, organic and non-GMO burger commonality that our guests have come to expect from us to new cities and parts of the country, while doing good for people and the planet at the same time.”
The Denver expansion is a step toward NLB’s near-term goal of quadrupling its footprint by 2025 while it works on its larger mission of changing fast food forever. NLB is also opening a new location in Portland, OR in the West Burnside neighborhood this spring.
3 The San Francisco Bay Area is getting new vegan seafood dishes
Denver and Portland aren’t the only places with exciting new vegan options. The San Francisco Bay Area is also getting into the plant-based action and has an eye for seafood. The team behind San Francisco-based Shizen is expanding its famously plant-based Japanese cuisine with a new Berkeley restaurant, The SF Chronicle reports. Tane Vegan Izakaya (which also has a location in Honolulu, HI) is slated to open this spring with a menu that makes humble plants like tomatoes, eggplant, and Brussels sprouts the star in nigiri and sliced buns, flavorful appetizers, and entrees.
Tane Izakaya Honolulu
Back in town this week, sandwich shop Rocketbird updated its menu, which is mostly chicken, with a new species of bird: the seabird. This new fish-free sandwich features a Good Catch Foods plant-based breaded fish fillet served with pickled red onions, Rocketbird tartar sauce, fresh small lettuce and avocado on a potato bun. The Seevogel can be ordered vegan by leaving out the tartar sauce and ordering a lettuce wrap instead of the roll.
Rocketbird also serves veggie chicken made with maitake mushrooms and hearty vegan sides like fries, coleslaw, and macaroni and cheese. For every sandwich purchased, the store donates a meal to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.
4 Plant-based bacon is booming
In 2018, to give Texas a break from beef, Brett Christoffel founded All Y’alls Foods in Dallas. The company’s flagship product is plant-based jerky (dubbed “It’s Jerky Y’all”), which it makes from non-GMO soybeans in Black Pepper & Sea Salt, Prickly Pear Teriyaki, and Prickly Pear Chipotle flavors. The brand also makes Bacony Bits Y’all (vegan bacon bits), which recently became Amazon’s best-selling meatless bacon product. Overall, sales of All Y’alls’ vegan products have doubled in the past six months, and Christoffel says there’s no slowdown in sight.
All Y’alls Foods
“As the state’s second-largest exporter, Texas is a proud beef producer, so we knew it would take time for us to establish ourselves as a flavorful, nutritious alternative,” Christoffel said in a statement. “And we’re happy to say we’re gaining ground quickly. Our sales continue to grow both through direct web marketing and through our partner retailers such as HEB Grocery Company, LP, which reported a 104 percent year-over-year increase. I stopped eating animals six years ago and I enjoy knowing that we are contributing to healthier plant-based protein choices.”
An added bonus to this truly guilt-free bacon and beef jerky is that a portion of sales benefit the local non-profit Rowdy Girl Sanctuary.
5 Meatless filet mignon is here
With the advent of Impossible and Beyond Burgers — and all the others that have come along since — it’s safe to say that plant-based ground beef has been perfected. However, when it comes to plant-based whole steaks, the room for innovation is wide open and Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles takes on the challenge head-on.
Founded in 2020 by food technologist Tilen Travnik, microbiologist Luka Sincek and biotechnologist Maj Hrovat, Juicy Marbles makes vegan filet mignon by layering soy protein into linear fibers using the Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder TM 9000, its patent-pending technology used to reverse engineer animal meat and enhance it in terms of flavor longevity, juiciness retention, crust development and nutritional profile. The founders were inspired to create plant-based whole cuts of meat to offer meat lovers a sustainable alternative to environmentally destructive beef.
And you’ll soon be able to cook yourself an eco-friendly, plant-based steak dinner. This week, Juicy Marbles launched a limited batch of 1,000 vegan filet mignon steaks on its European webshop – the first time its one-of-a-kind product has been made available to the public en masse. Juicy Marbles is also working on releasing its plant-based steaks in the US with a similar webshop drop before expanding to supermarkets and grocers later this year.
By making steaks from plants, Juicy Marbles is already helping the environment, but doing even more with every purchase of a pack of steaks (which currently costs €45 [about $51] per 4-pack of steaks) the company is planting a tree with its partner Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees.
Read for the latest vegan news:
Vegan cheese arrives at black-owned burger chain Fuddruckers
The Vega founder’s new cell-based scrambled eggs are more nutritious than chicken eggs
Vegan lunch dishes? Kraft Heinz is relaunching its legendary products