The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

A Consumer’s Guide to Fake Meat

Foodies in North America and Europe can now choose from among dozens of meat substitutes. But they should choose carefully…

6 min read
A Consumer’s Guide to Fake Meat
Photo: Match Meat

Meat is complex, and faking it isn't easy. Some of the biggest food companies in Europe and North America have been trying for decades—with mostly dismal results. But over the past year or so, some new offerings and improved older ones with better texture and flavor have come on the market. If you tried one or more meat substitutes years ago and weren't impressed, or are still shuddering from the experience, it's time to give them another chance. This guide will help.

Although I'm not a vegetarian, I am an epicure of ersatz meats, a connoisseur of fake fillets. I have been eating them for more than 15 years. I've tried mock meats made from soy, wheat gluten, and fungus, as well as various mixtures. I've used them in Italian, Tex-Mex, Chinese, Latin-American, and other dishes. I have sprung them on my finicky grade-school-age children from time to time to gauge their reactions (mostly negative, with a few notable exceptions). I've also eaten creations made and served only in some expensive Manhattan restaurants. Here, I've distilled my experiences into some specific recommendations. I have limited this review to the foods I've tried, of course, which means it covers mainly products available in Canada and United States, where I live.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

Keep Reading ↓Show less