Meatless dinner
Photo: Courtesy of Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

Veggie burgers are not just on the menu at U.C. Berkeley. They’re on the syllabus of a class geared toward aspiring engineers and entrepreneurs.

Ricardo San Martin is a visiting professor at the University’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

San Martin: “We try to teach topics that are emerging, that have interest from investors here in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, and among these topics came the creation of alternatives to meat.”

Meat production creates a lot of global warming pollution, so shifting toward more plant-based diets is an important way to slow climate change.

In San Martin’s class, called the Alternative Meat Lab, students learn from industry experts about how meat substitutes are produced and the challenges of making plant-based ingredients taste like animal products. Then, students try to develop their own prototypes, such as veggie bacon that sizzles like pork and bean-based jerky with the texture of meat.

He says these are complex food engineering problems, but that his students are up for the challenge.

San Martin: “Their minds are really fresh and curious, and so they come up with solutions I would have never thought of. We learn together.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...