Semi-vegetarian burger, full of meat: The founders of REBEL MEAT want to stir up the meat industry
In The News
07 Jan 2020
Making the world a better place is the mission of Cornelia Habacher, Philipp Stangl and Wolfgang Haidinger. The start-up entrepreneurs from Vienna are doing something with REBEL MEAT that nobody has tried before: They mix half of the burger patties with organic herbs, organic millet and organic spices – and still promise 100% meat experience.
Why all this? Quite simply: it’s all about the climate. After all, excessive meat consumption has many negative effects on the environment. With their production methods, the three founders want to reduce greenhouse gases and save water and agricultural land. The whole thing is even better for your health, because the patties contain more fibre, less cholesterol – and less fat. With REBEL MEAT, meat eaters can eat more consciously and even healthier without having to do without.
Philipp Stangl told us more about this when we met him for an interview at the EIT Climate-KIC Demo Days 2019.
Philipp, what is REBEL MEAT?
We develop meat products that taste one hundred percent like meat, but only consist of 50 percent meat. We want to offer meat eaters, for whom vegetarian dishes are currently still too much of a compromise, an opportunity to eat a little less meat anyway – and thus eat healthier and more environmentally friendly.
What does this mean in concrete terms – healthier and more environmentally friendly?
The meat we use is of very high quality. It comes exclusively from happy cows that only eat grass and no soy from Brazil. Meat causes many problems, especially when it is industrially produced – from antibiotic residues to water pollution, deforestation and so on. That is what we want to tackle.
We use one hundred percent organic ingredients. In addition, our product requires far fewer resources. This is because, for example, the meatless ingredients we use – like mushrooms – generally require fewer resources and can grow in a controlled way.
Why did you call yourselves REBEL MEAT?
It was very important to us that the word “meat” appears in the name to address meat eaters. Nowadays, they often don’t feel addressed by vegetarian products. On the other hand, we want to completely rethink meat reduction and best available quality. Hence the “Rebel” in the name.
What is your background? And what makes you think you can “rebel” in the meat industry?
We all found each other because we all saw the big problems in the meat industry. Together we simply wanted to do something. Wolfgang Haidinger is a trained cook and entrepreneur, Cornelia Habacher is a molecular biologist and I come from the start-up world and have already set up a food start-up.
We got to know each other through mutual friendships. We all talked about the meat industry problem and the great opportunities offered by so-called “alternative proteins”. Until our friends said: “You know what, you talk to each other and then we can talk about something else again”. That’s what we did – and now we’re a team.
Which customers are you talking to with REBEL MEAT?
On the one hand, we address people who want to eat less or more conscious meat. But for those who, for various reasons, a completely vegetarian diet is too much of a compromise. On the other hand, our target group also includes people who pay a lot of attention to natural ingredients and who are out of the question for classic meat substitutes due to their high level of processing and the use of many additives. Here we are a bit of an antithesis: “Yes, we still have meat in it, but it is simply good and everything is natural”.
Where are you standing right now?
At the beginning of the year we started to work on our product. A month ago we launched our product on the Austrian market. You can get it in one of the best burger bars in Vienna. Over the next few months we also want to enter the German and Swiss markets. At the same time, we want to expand our product range and also work on reducing the meat content even further.
What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
Our product is a complex product that does not yet exist in this form. That means a lot of convincing. If I have five minutes with a meat eater, then I can convince him that our product is a good thing. The problem is: I can’t spend five minutes with everyone in the world. That’s why we have to focus our communication so that we can convince even the biggest meat eater to try our product.
What is your vision of the future?
We believe that meat will eventually be produced from cells in the bioreactor – so-called in vitro meat. We see ourselves as the key enabler for this technology. This is because this meat will certainly not be able to come onto the market purely because it will be too expensive and will not yet have the necessary texture, the right taste and the familiar appearance. This means that this meat product must also be mixed with vegetable ingredients. We have the know-how and the perfect brand for this. As soon as the in-vitro meat comes onto the market, we only need to pull a lever, so to speak, and can replace the conventional meat with the in-vitro meat.
How did EIT Climate-KIC help you on your way so far?
EIT Climate-KIC was one of the reasons why we all went full-time. That gave us our last motivation boost. And of course it also helped us to structure things and make them faster. The mentoring was also important. EIT Climate-KIC was simply a great sparring partner during the last six months.