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On a piece of land, you can grow up to fifteen times more vegetable proteins than animal proteins. That’s what Doreen Westphal discovered during a study. That’s why during the Dutch Design Week, she will show a sausage of oyster mushrooms, from which you can eat with fifteen people.

More about Doreen Westphal and Botanic Bites on E52

Oyster mushrooms
Through a collaboration with the ZLTO (Zuidelijke Land- en Tuinbouworganisatie) and BKKC, Westphal came into contact with an oyster mushroom farmer. “During the Dutch Design Week in 2016, speed dates were organized between farmers and designers. After all, farmers are stuck with residual products and designers can come up with solutions. We set to work with the ‘feet’ of oyster mushrooms. The mushrooms are harvested in bunches, so you’re left with something. That is too chewy to sell, so no one uses it. But in vegetable food you need something to chew, often you miss the bite.”

The ‘Tomato Burger’ of Botanic Bites

Jeroen van der Wielen

Meat, a sensitive subject
Westphal made a switch from design to food. As a designer, she worked on sustainable products and materials from residual flows. Now Westphal and her company Botanic Bites make protein-rich ‘meat substitutes’ and focuses on the food problem. She is convinced that these products can help people to reduce their consumption of meat. “It is a very sensitive theme, meat. That is a very personal thing. People are aware of what is going on but have no answer. Often people come up with an excuse, for example: ‘I need proteins, so I have to eat a lot of animal products,’ The two vegetable burgers I introduced last year both have more proteins than chicken, so that is not necessary at all. If we make very tasty things, which are even better in terms of nutrients than meat, then we can make progress. In any case, the flavor is not the problem.”

“I just know that if I eat a piece of meat, there is a shortage somewhere else.”Doreen Westphal, Botanic Bites

The sausage as a symbol of solidarity
Westphal’s sausage symbolizes the food problem. Meat costs a lot of energy and land to produce compared to vegetal products. In order to really tackle this issue, the sausage will not be a one-off product for the Dutch Design Week: “The sausage appeals to solidarity with others. I just know that if I eat a piece of meat, there is a shortage somewhere else. You could eat the vegetable-sausage with fifteen people. In the end, we want to see something in the supermarket as well. Otherwise, you will have a story but no impact.”

The vegetal burgers are already being sold to a wholesaler for the hospitality industry and are available at the Colour Kitchen on the High Tech Campus. Botanic Bites is now in contact with a large supermarket and a Dutch Design Week caterer to widen their reach and get in touch with consumers. During the DDW all products will be available for visitors to taste.

Photo’s: Jeroen van der Wielen