Recently I had the pleasure of staging New Omnivore's first tabling event at Miami-Dade College in downtown Miami. But this was not be any ordinary tabling - some covert operations were involved. The plan? Place a tray of plant-based meat samples out for passers-by (mostly students) to try, except they wouldn't be told of its true ingredients: they were only asked which flavor of the meat samples did they prefer - the Original or BBQ?
In no at time at all (who doesn't love free samples?) I had interested students walk up for a taste. They surveyed the offerings, selected a toothpicked sample, and readily took a bite. They chewed heartily before declaring a verdict: "The BBQ's pretty good" or "I like the Original". Almost all assumed the product was chicken or pork. With their official decision, it was time for the reveal:
"What if I told you that sample was completely made from plants?"
After a burst of surprise, the students' reactions ranged from pleased laughter to nonchalance to total confusion. Some of the comments:
"Wow it's pretty good"
"Really? But it tastes like meat!"
"Seriously?" (Silence and staring at the food) "How?"
Since the samples were made from wheat protein, I explained the process of separating wheat starch and protein through a rinsing/kneading process and then cooking the protein to look and taste like meat.
I then explained what New Omnivore was and why it promotes animal-free food innovation: why making meat from plants can not only be delicious, but more sustainable, healthy and humane.
9 out 10 samplers seemed to like the information, and a gracious few posed for a photograph declaring they were New Omnivores!
All in all, it was a very successful first effort at outreach, and some important new seeds of knowledge were planted (No pun intended.) On to the next!