Phuture Foods, an innovative Malaysian startup, is bringing vegan pork to the Asian market.
Phuture minced pork—made from wheat, shiitake mushrooms, mung beans, and more—is completely plant-based. The company says its pork has all the essential nutrients, including Vitamin B, amino acids, and iron, without the antibiotics and the high saturated fat and cholesterol of animal meat.
Unlike companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods that are focusing on plant-based beef, Phuture Foods is eager to address the high demand for pork in Asia. The company is selling its products online, with plans to branch out into supermarkets in Hong Kong.
The vegan pork comes at a key time, as an outbreak of African swine fever, also known as “pig Ebola,” has been ravaging Asia’s pork industry. The highly contagious disease kills nearly every pig it infects, causing hemorrhagic illness similar to Ebola in humans. There is no vaccine or treatment for infected pigs, and the virus spreads quickly, so producers must kill all infected or exposed animals in an attempt to stop it.
China is home to around 440 million pigs (half the world’s pig population), and already 1.2 million pigs have been killed to stop the disease, with no end in sight. It’s not surprising that the virus is spreading so swiftly, considering that farmed pigs are usually kept in overcrowded conditions. Many pigs live their entire lives indoors without proper ventilation, veterinary care, or opportunities to exercise or socialize.
Phuture Foods’ plant-based meat could not only help alleviate animal suffering and decrease instances of foodborne illness but make a big difference for the environment. Population growth in Asian countries like China is straining resources. Globally, raising farmed animals generates 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and uses 30 percent of the planet’s ice-free land.
In addition to offering health and environmental benefits, Phuture Foods hopes to make its products even more attractive by keeping its prices comparable to or lower than those of pig meat. While the company is starting with pork, it is also exploring plant-based chicken and lamb.