Since Beyond Meat launched in China, plant-based meat has been all the rage—at least in news headlines. Rarely do the marketing-savvy earth warriors ask, does China really want new age plant-based meat?
Dozens of companies are betting that it does, including Yum China, the company behind KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. In July, we visited the fast food chains to try Beyond Meat’s plant-based meat alternative. It exceeded my carnivorous expectations.
I was especially impressed by Taco Bell’s vegan taco. The vegan beef was really juicy and blended well with the sauce. KFC’s vegan burger was good for the first few bites, but the portion was too big for me, and I felt my stomach fill with fast food grease as I ate more. Let’s not talk about my Pizza Hut experience…
All these foreign brands entering the Chinese market with armies of branding and marketing specialists are facing competition from local startups—and a centuries-old industry of Buddhist vegetarian meat.
With China’s market heating up, we thought it’s time to do a taste test on some of the local veggie meat brands. A lot of the hype around plant-based dishes on the Chinese market has revolved around western food, but we wanted to see how they’d perform with Chinese basics.
We picked dumplings—if plant-based pork is going to catch on in Chinese kitchens, stomachs, and hearts, it has to work with dumplings. They are usually made with pork, which is China’s favorite meat.
To ensure our taste test adhered to the highest standards of justice and fairness, we would not reveal to our tasters which dumpling was made with which plant-based meat until after they had given us their feedback. In other words, the phyto-beasts were subjected to a blind test.
The dough-wrapped pockets of delicious Chinese cooking have the added benefit of hiding what’s inside, sparing us the cost of blind folds.
- Omni Pork, a company based in Hong Kong
- Z-Rou, a Shanghai-based startup
- Traditional Buddhist veggie meat maker Gongdelin, established in 1992.
- Pig-based pork, for the meat-eaters.
We invited two vegetarians and two meat eaters to try our dumplings. Check out the video to see their verdict.