MailOnline tries the world's first plant-based ribs

Would YOU pay £30 for vegan ribs? MailOnline tries the world’s first plant-based rack – so, do they live up to the real deal?

  • The firm that made a plant-based filet mignon steak returns with a new product 
  • MailOnline tries Juicy Marbles’ soy ‘Bone-In Ribs’ that come with edible ‘bones’

No longer do vegans have to miss out on one of the finest eating experiences known to humankind – succulent barbequed ribs.

That’s because Slovenian company Juicy Marbles has released its latest fake meat product – the world’s first plant-based stack, mostly made from soy. 

Called ‘Bone-In Ribs’, the quirky meat alternative contains imitation ‘bones’ that can be air-fried or baked to make a ‘crispy snack’, the firm says. 

It wants to restore the ‘primal joy’ of eating meat off the bone for vegetarians or vegans who miss the experience. 

Just like the real thing, Bone-In Ribs are suitable for marinating and cook at a fraction of the time, but at nearly £30 per stack they don’t come cheap. 

‘Succulent plant-based ribs’: Juicy Marbles sold two 500g packets of the ribs for 66 euros (£57) – about five times more expensive than real pork ribs

They’re suitable for marinating just like real ribs, but at nearly £30 per stack they don’t come cheap

‘Bone-In’ Ribs ingredients  

  • Water
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Sunflower oil
  • Natural flavours
  • Thickeners (carrageenan & methylcellulose) 
  • Red beet juice concentrate
  • Apple extract
  • Salt
  • Vitamin B12

‘With so much surface to caramelise and rich fat throughout, every bite delivers that perfect combo of crispy, melt-in-your mouth crust and tender, juicy meat,’ Juicy Marbles says on its website. 

‘The bones are made out of nutritious plant-protein, meaning they can also be eaten. 

‘For a crispy snack with more protein than jerky, you can fry, bake or air-fry them.’

For a limited time in the summer, Juicy Marbles was selling two 500g packets of the ribs for 66 euros (£57). 

So each packet – which comes with six bones – costs £28.50, which is around five times pricier than the real deal from the UK’s supermarkets. 

Although Bone-In Ribs is sold out (more are apparently coming next year) MailOnline managed to get a sample of this limited ‘drop’.  

Immediately I noticed that flesh and bones have very different looks and consistencies even though they’re both made of soy (the company wouldn’t tell me how it managed this). 

I decided to rub my ribs with a simple dry mix – consisting of paprika, cumin, cayenne and some BBQ seasoning. 

I decided to rub my ribs with a simple dry mix – consisting of paprika, cumin, cayenne and some BBQ seasoning 

Promo image of ‘Bone-In’ Ribs from Juicy Marbles with realistic ‘flesh’ and a bonus snack – edible ‘bones’

READ MORE MailOnline tries the £40 vegan tenderloin

Whole-cut loin is the second product from Juicy Marbles

Following Juicy Marbles’ suggestion, I first coated the ribs with a ‘binder’ to get the rub to stick – olive oil – although they were so slimy it was probably not needed. 

Unlike trendy slow cooking methods for real meat that take hours, the vegan ribs cooked in the oven in just 20 minutes. 

Apart from the authentic-looking charred bone tips, they looked about the same as they went in the oven as when they came out. 

To be fair, Bone-In Ribs is pure plant matter and so does not undergo as dramatic a transformation under high temperatures like pig flesh does.  

Similar to the flesh of the first two Juicy Marbles products – filet mignon ‘steak’ and a large slab of loin – the fake flesh was a lot like pulled pork and fell apart in lovely, succulent threads. 

Juicy Marbles claims to use a mysterious machine called the ‘Meat-o-Matic 9000’ to layer the plant protein into linear fibres, mimicking muscle structures.

This name conjures up images of wonderful contraptions worthy of Wallace & Gromit, although I fear the reality is not quite as exciting. 

The fake flesh was a lot like pulled pork – it just fell apart in lovely succulent threads – but the bones were a different story 

Realistic: Juicy Marbles claims to use a mysterious machine called the ‘Meat-o-Matic 9000’, which layers proteins into linear fibres, mimicking muscle structures

However, as for the bones, they were one of the weirdest things I’ve ever put in my mouth – and I’m confident even Matt Hancock would feel the same if he could try this. 

I was expecting something I could crunch down on – like pork scratchings or a posh breadstick – but instead they were tough and bendy, like cartilage.

It hurt my teeth to chomp down on them, and I felt like a cow in a field chewing a cud of grass as I waited for the moment I could swallow.  

The charred tips were the toughest part, which was a surprise because Juicy Marbles claims putting the bones in the oven is one way to get them to crisp up. 

Perhaps the way to get the best out of them is to stick them in an air fryer? 

I was expecting something I could crunch down on – like pork scratchings or a posh breadstick – but instead they were tough and bendy, like cartilage

Although flavour-wise the bones were fine – they tasted like soy – it hurt my teeth to chomp down on them

Allegedly, during development work for the new product, Juicy Marbles staff had considered creating plant-based rib meat with inedible bones that would go in the compost bin, just like real animal bones. 

However, the company decided to make their version of bones edible – because what’s the point of consumers buying something and putting some of it straight in the bin?

Unfortunately, with an eating experience like this, I think most buyers will take one bite of these tough slabs and put them straight in with the food waste anyway. 

Sorry Juicy Marbles, I respect the innovation and I’m a fan of your soy flesh, but if you could fillet your ribs for me next time you’d be bacon me very happy.  

Switching to plant-based meat can help the environment, experts say

According to scientists, switching to plant-based products that mimic real meat can help the planet. 

Livestock farming at the current rate hurt the environment in a number of different ways.

Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.

Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further adding to climate change.  

Juicy Marbles is just one firm creating plant-based vegan products, which are increasingly taking space on the supermarket shelves  

Factory farms and crop growing also requires massive amounts of water, with 542 litres of water being used to produce just a single chicken breast.

As well as this, the nitrogen-based fertiliser used on crops adds to nitrous oxide emissions. 

Nitrous oxide is around 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

These fertilisers can also end up in rivers, further adding to pollution. 

Scientists have recently suggested that bringing plant-based meat to public institutions such as schools and prisons can help trigger a wider transition amongst the general public. 

‘Favouring alternative proteins in public procurement policies globally could help to bring forward tipping points in their adoption,’ they say in a report. 

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