‘Vegemeat’ is a cheap yet healthy meat alternative

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By Anna Valmero

CEBU CITY, METRO MANILA— If you think real meat is irreplaceable, think again. A healthier alternative, called Meat Magic, is available and is touted to be the first and only Filipino-made vegemeat in the local market.

Filipino-Chinese Edward Go created the meat alternative, which packs more fiber and nutrients compared to animal meat.

Although Go is a mechanical engineer by profession, growing up eating Chinese food such as home-made tofu inspired him to develop a vegemeat recipe and to designed a machine to process his recipe in 1993.

Go decided to mass produce the vegemeat as a means for the family-owned Hayco Group of Companies to diversity into the food processing business two decades ago.

The product is currently distributed by Geltech Hayco, a subsidiary of Hayco Group of Companies.

Selling the product also promotes Go’s advocacy to promote cheap and healthy “fiber-rich meat” to fellow Filipinos.

Vegemeat is a good choice for Filipinos aiming for a low-fat, high fiber and protein-rich diet because more Filipinos are prone to obesity in urban centers while poor families have little or no money at all to buy meat, said Melody Balboa, sales and marketing head of Geltech Hayco.

“Unlike imported meat products that are only made of wheat and corn, the vegemeat produced by Mr. Go also incorporates soya that is high in protein,” said Balboa.

The US Food and Drug administration and the local Department of Health found that eating 25 grams of soy protein as part of a diet that is low in saturated fat and bad cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease.

Aside from nutritional benefits, the vegemeat also offers a cheaper alternative for poor communities along with longer and cheaper storage, making it an ideal food for remote communities and during calamities, said Balboa.

Unlike animal meat, the dried vegemeat is stored at room temperature and lasts for up to a year, which is perfect for poor communities that have limited or no access to electricity and refrigeration.

By sheer weight, the vegemeat offers 50 to 60 percent cost savings when cooked because it can expand to three times its original weight. A kilo of vegemeat costs P250 and expands to three to four kilos when soaked in water for three minutes before cooking.

She said they also conduct cooking demonstrations, to how to use the product in recipes such as spaghetti or barbeque and how to add flavor.

Balboa admitted that vegemeat is widely used in the canning industry, as extender for tuna or meat loaf and even by big fastfood chains and vegan restaurants.

She further said that the local market is ready for vegemeat, considering that the company the company earns P2 million in a month via retail channels in Manila, Quezon City and Palawan.

The potential of vegemeat as an emergency protein source in calamities is also possible, said Balboa. The company produced a rice “toppings meal” composed of rice and vegemeat for the 90-day community feeding programs of Go’s GCH foundation since 2000.

Meat Magic and Geltech Hayco Inc. is located at 2F GCH Blodg., Tres Borces Padres St., Mabolo, Cebu City. Contact them at (032) 231-0388, fax at (032) 232-2331 or email geltech@geltech-hayco.com. The company’s Manila office is located at 5F Prosperity Bldg., 395 Banawe St., Quezon City and can be contacted at (02) 731-7714.

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