Belgian Food Startup Adds Mammoth DNA To Plant-Based Burger

Dylan Turck
A company is adding woolly mammoth DNA to their menu of plant-based burgers and they say that it tastes better than a normal beef burger.
A platter of plant-based burgers on a wooden table. Photo: Mae Mue | Unsplash
A platter of plant-based burgers on a wooden table. Photo: Mae Mue | Unsplash

Paleo, a new plant-based startup in Belgium, is transforming the world of vegan burger patties by adding woolly mammoth DNA into their products. The innovative approach taken by the company is an attempt to better replicate the taste and feel of real meat in vegan foods.

Paleo’s goal is to produce food that benefits both people and the planet by using natural ingredients that are minimally processed and free of harmful chemicals. Although adding animal DNA to vegan products may sound controversial it is not unusual for the industry.

The science behind combining animal DNA and plant-based food is not new and has been used for a long time to alter the taste and feel of food. However, this is the first time a company has gone as far as to use prehistoric animal DNA.

How Is Mammoth DNA Used In Plant-Based Burgers?

The specific type of DNA, from the wooly mammoth, that will be used in the company’s burger is a protein called myoglobin. However, this type of protein is not only found in prehistoric animals.

A scientist working in the Laboratory. Photo: Zakir Rushanly | Pexels

Myoglobin is present in all animals, even in humans. It is the protein that regulates the amount of oxygen in muscles, and it gives meat its red color. In the past, myoglobin from cows, pigs, and chickens has been used in plant-based meat to help replicate the flavor of real meat.

But the myoglobin found in the DNA of wooly mammoths is different, with the proteins from the prehistoric animal greatly improving the taste of the burger, making it tougher, and adding essential nutrients beneficial to the human body, including amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.

Business Insider reported that when the company first experimented with its new product, it began by adding mammoth proteins to different varieties of its burgers and then conducted taste tests. The addition of mammoth myoglobin produced a more intense meat-like taste and aroma, with many of the testers stating that it tasted more like meat than a real beef burger.

The Future of Alternative Meat-Based Foods

The global population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, resulting in a higher demand for food. However, conventional animal-based meat sources are unsustainable and cause a significant impact on the environment.

A stall selling crickets at a market in Myanmar. Photo: Harish Shivaraman | Unsplash

As a result, the food industry is moving towards alternative methods to attain more sustainable protein sources. The food industry has already explored various alternative protein sources, such as insects, algae, and lab-grown meat.

Although not all of these options have captivated the public, many of these alternatives offer much higher protein levels per gram than traditional animal-based meats, with many of these types of food already being present in cultures around the world.

Insect-based snacks and meals have slowly started creeping onto shelves, with lab-grown meats already being served in restaurants. The shift to newer, more sustainable protein sources has already begun.

Unfortunately, the Western ideology of what is deemed acceptable to eat often clouds the possibilities of what these alternatives could become. It will take a global change in mentality to move people onto more sustainable food alternatives for the future.

If this new type of burger can sway more people to eating plant-based meat, it would reduce the number of animals that need to be bred and slaughtered, which would be a monumental step towards making the Earth a safer, more sustainable planet.


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