Israeli startup using algae to make vegan meat 'bloody'

Adding Porphyridium algae and some of its derivatives to plant-based foods gives them a 'bloody' texture and appearance while avoiding any harm to animals.

 Beyond's vegan meatballs and sausage. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Beyond's vegan meatballs and sausage.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Tel-Aviv-based startup Yemoja has found a way to give plant-based burgers and steaks similar juiciness to real meat, using a strain of red microalgae called Porphyridium.

Adding the algae and some of its derivatives to plant-based foods gives them a "bloody" texture and appearance while avoiding any harm to animals. The plant is also highly nutritious, containing 20-30% protein and an abundance of amino acids.

Yemoja co-founder and CEO Erez Ashkenazi said there is a strong demand for a plant-based blood substitute.

"The demand for clean, naturally sourced alternative proteins that can dually exert a less harmful impact on the environment is an internationally sought venture," he said. "Our advanced patented cultivation system offers a high-value yet cost-effective solution that can be easily scaled up to the unique needs of the various alt protein/meat producers to help bolster this rapidly growing category."

A vegan barbeque 370 (credit: Omer Shalev)A vegan barbeque 370 (credit: Omer Shalev)

Though plant-based food producers already use vegan blood substitutes, currently used additives such as beetroot juice only change the color of raw products and "cannot change color in the manner that meat does when cooked," according to Yemoja.

The company is currently testing the algae with one cultured meat producer and a plant-based startup and hopes it will be used in products on the market within 18 months.