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This Silicon Valley Engineer Ditched Software program to Make Seitan Salami to “Assist Shift the Meals Tradition Paradigm”


In Northern California’s Silicon Valley, a area globally acknowledged for its technological improvements, meals is present process a revolution. Dwelling to innovators making every thing from bleeding plant-based burgers (Unimaginable Meals) to AI-crafted dairy-identical blue cheese (Climax Meals), this area attracts individuals who need to change the world. 

That is true for Alexander Volkov, who left his profession as a software program engineer to develop Inexperienced Wolf Meals. Co-founded with spouse Aleksandra Volkov, the corporate is reimagining conventional Japanese European staples equivalent to salami, utilizing nothing however vegetation, creativity, and a powerful need to create a greater meals system. 

“My profession in software program improvement was about creating revolutionary options, however cooking, significantly BBQ, was my true ardour,” Volkov tells VegNews. Volkov went vegan roughly a decade in the past and grew pissed off with the shortage of plant-based cured meats. 

That is how Vegami was born in 2022. 

From software program to seitan salami

Salami, with its roots deep in European culinary traditions, is a cured sausage of fermented and air-dried meat, sometimes pork. Its lengthy shelf life at room temperature made it a staple amongst peasants in Southern, Japanese, and Central Europe. 

With every area creating its distinctive selection, the standard recipe doubtless originated in Italy within the 18th century. The complexity of salami’s flavors and textures displays the wealthy cultural significance of this meals merchandise throughout Europe.

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Making a vegan various to conventional salami posed distinctive challenges, significantly in replicating its flavors and textures. “The primary main problem was reaching consistency,” Volkov says. 

His kitchen remodeled right into a “culinary lab” in the course of the pandemic, the place he experimented with plant-based recipes, drawing inspiration from his Japanese European heritage. “I wasn’t aiming to begin a enterprise initially. My objective was easy—create one thing each scrumptious and nutritious for me and my vegan household,” he remembers. 

This led to the beginning of Vegami, a vegan tackle salami which he describes as “naturally smoked, proper in our yard.”

He centered on creating smoking and growing old methods for an all-plant-based product, made primarily with a base of important wheat gluten (also referred to as “seitan”) to ship genuine flavors. 

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“Our mission is to deliver vegetation again into plant-based, that’s why the third of our recipe is contemporary greens, mushrooms, and greens,” he says, emphasizing the significance of healthful components and well being consciousness.

To check Vegami, the Volkovs have been constructing a presence at farmers’ markets across the Bay Space the place all suggestions has been used to enhance the product.

“It was particular connecting instantly, watching folks attempt Vegami, and listening to their reactions. This previous 12 months, we’ve devoted over 400 hours to partaking face-to-face and have acquired superb suggestions from our group,” Volkov says. 

“The message from those that’ve tried our merchandise has been loud and clear—they like much less imitation and extra healthful, easy components with higher taste,” he says. 

And whereas the preliminary product was developed with vegans in thoughts, Volkov says curiosity from non-vegans is rising.

“That is thrilling as a result of it means that our merchandise have the potential to assist shift the meals tradition paradigm,” Volkov says. “We’re not simply catering to a distinct segment market; we’re contributing to a broader motion in the direction of extra sustainable and health-conscious consuming habits.”

Vegan salami on the rise

Whereas vegan burgers had been all the fashion in years previous, each kind of meat is getting a plant-based makeover.

Inexperienced Wolf Meals is a part of a rising market of plant-based salami makers, together with Renegade Meals and Plantcraft. The founders of Renegade, additionally primarily based in Northern California, use conventional cured meat-making strategies so as to add a flare of authenticity to their vegan salami, which is obtainable in Toscana, Sopressata, and Spicy Chorizo flavors.

Volkov’s Inexperienced Wolf Meals, at present out there direct-to-consumer by the corporate’s web site, additionally goals to increase its attain and proceed innovating within the plant-based market. Whereas its Vegami has solely been out there to shoppers since 2022, the vegan salami has already gained traction—tripling gross sales volumes in lower than a 12 months. 

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The product has additionally caught the eye of TIME journal, which gave it an honorable point out in its Finest Innovations of 2023 record. Final September, the World Plant-Based mostly Innovation Awards additionally named Inexperienced Wolf Meals the Finest New Enterprise/Startup. 

At present, the corporate is working to make its Vegami extra accessible to most people by new distribution channels. It’s also creating a superfood-based caviar unfold, one other fashionable vegan tackle an Japanese European staple created from chia seeds, flaxseed oil, seaweed, soy sauce, and water.

“We’re centered on bringing a brand new strategy to the plant-based market,” Volkov says. “It’s not nearly imitating animal-based merchandise; it’s about innovating and crafting one thing distinctive and nutritious.” 

In creating these merchandise, the founders of Inexperienced Wolf Meals hope to create a brand new legacy for his or her household title, one which mirrors their resolution to ditch meat and embrace a vegan life-style.

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“Our household title, Volkov, interprets to ‘of the wolf,’ making a pure connection for us,” Volkov says. “Embracing veganism was, for us, akin to changing into ‘inexperienced wolves.’”

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