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Is Fake Chicken the New Chicken?

Beyond Meat(NEW YORK) -- Fake meat isn’t a new thing, but good fake meat that is almost indistinguishable from real meat could be very big in cleaning up your diet and helping the planet.

Beyond Meat, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based food company that specializes in making “chicken” from plant-based protein, claims it is 80 percent of the way toward making real-tasting fake chicken. And you can find out for yourself as their products are now in Whole Foods markets and the Tropical Smoothie restaurants in New York City, where you can substitute its fake chicken for real chicken in burritos.

“What we offer the market is the cleanest form of protein that money can buy,” says Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat’s founder and CEO. “You don’t have any concerns about antibiotics, avian flu, mad cow disease. You have no hormones or steroid use.”

Brown noted that meat consumption has been linked to cancer and heart disease, and that it takes a toll on the environment, too.

“If you look at climate, 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to meat consumption,” he said.

Brown, who is vegan, looked far and wide for the technology his company uses in its fake meat products. He finally stumbled upon two researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia who had been working for 10 years on a system that heats, cools and pressurizes protein from plants so that it mimics the fibrous structure of meat.

“Now we’re not all the way there,” Brown says, “but I would challenge you in a tortilla or an enchilada to tell me which is chicken and which is not.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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