This week, Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles unveiled a vegan filet mignon that is available for delivery in 48 states in the United States and across Europe for a limited time. Founded in 2020 by food technologist Tilen Travnik, microbiologist Luka Sincek, and biotechnologist Maj Hrovat, the startup created its vegan marbled steak by layering soy protein into linear fibers using the Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder TM 9000, its patent-pending (and playfully named) technology to reverse-engineer animal meat and improve upon it in terms of flavor longevity, juiciness retention, crust development, and nutrition profile. The result is a filet mignon that comes to consumers unseasoned and delivers the same experience as meat without the need to slaughter animals.
Making realistic plant-based steak
Juicy Marbles’ vegan steak does not contain animal cells—which cellular agriculture companies use to grow meat—nor does it undergo a printing process. It does, for now, come at a premium with one four-serving tenderloin priced at $147.58 during the startup’s current phase. “The biggest challenge was getting the right fiber alignment and intramuscular fat structure—the marbling. The most expensive steaks in the world are known for their lush marbling. It takes a lot of energy and a rare breed of cow to attain that,” Sincek said. “With plant meat, we control it and, thus, over time, can scale up our steak production and bring down the price. Eventually, we’ll be able to make the most premium meats attainable for everyone.”
Juicy Marbles’ mission is to provide a more efficient, but just as delicious, form of protein that does not require the amount of inputs—such as land, water, and feed—necessary to raise cows. “We can’t expect a necessary global diet shift towards plant-based without a wide variety of plant meats that will not only enable the continuation of culinary traditions, but also enable a well—balanced and wholesome diet,” Travnik said.
This fall, Juicy Marbles plans to open a production facility in Austin, TX with the aim of making its premium vegan steak cheaper than store-bought animal meat within two years. The startup is also looking for a limited number of applicants to its taste testing program which will receive two vegan steaks for $20.