Another slice of mammoth, perhaps?


Vegetarian meat and fish substitutes are still not widely accepted in 2023. Many consumers find that their taste is too dissimilar to the real thing. Charleroi-based start-up Paleo is well on its way to developing GMO-free proteins that give vegetarian beef, chicken, pork, lamb, tuna and ... mammoth extra flavour, taste, colour and texture.

The muscles of vertebrates contain so-called myoglobins, iron-containing proteins that make meat taste and look like meat. Paleo adds a piece of DNA to yeast, which is then used to raise proteins. The ingenuity of Paleo's technology is that it allows the yeast and proteins to be easily separated industrially. This is how you get pure, non-genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in which there is no leftover DNA. While most such products do not carry a GMO-free label.

Reduced animal suffering and environmental degradation, on the one hand, and tastier and healthier substitutes, on the other, may convince committed meat and fish eaters to step up to plant-based alternatives. By the way, it doesn't always have to be beef or chicken. Paleo has managed to synthesise 'mammoth protein' as a flavour enhancer based on DNA from a 1.2-million-year-old tooth of a steppes mammoth. Note: It is a bit too early to enjoy a plate of mammoth meat.

Before this meat experience is a reality, production capabilities must be scaled up and the necessary regulations worked out.