Who invented it? The Swiss, of course! Plant-based schnitzel, burger patties and chicken chunks or vegan meatloaf. The start-up Green Mountain has developed vegan meat alternatives under the motto “Null Fleisch – ächt Schwiiz” (zero meat – real Switzerland). ” […] Our young team has made its mark in its own manufactory in Graubünden. The focus is always on the product, unadulterated, but with a new, often surprising level of intensity,” says The Green Mountain Managing Director Werner Ott.
Enjoyment is the focus
The Green Mountain was founded in 2019 as a manufactory. “We started out with some veggie products at the time, although not meat alternatives, more tofu and hummus. Together with our team of experts, we tackled the topic with our first product, which we developed as a ‘bloody burger,'” recalls Wolfgang Ott.
The young company started the first field trial at the 125th anniversary celebration of the Zurich Women’s Association. “I sent the organizers the first showcase-ready prototypes of our burger,” Ott says. The response was positive. “A small success that we considered a jumping off point.” As a result, the brand was up and running within four weeks and launched in April 2019. Enjoyment is always at the heart of The Green Mountain.
Vegan alternatives without flavor enhancers and unnecessary additives
The start-up’s meat alternatives are high in protein, fiber and contain vitamin B12. Flavor enhancers, added sugar and palm oil are consciously avoided. All products are developed and produced at Hilcona Taste Factory in Landquart, in the Federal Republic of Germany. To keep the food close to nature, the company uses natural, plant-based ingredients and pays careful attention to their origin. In general, they try to source most raw materials from Switzerland and, as a second resort, from the EU area. “However, we always remain purely plant-based and therefore vegan. Our aim is always to get as close as possible to the ideal,” Ott stresses.
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Regional raw materials for greater sustainability in the production chain
“We would prefer to only work with regional products. However, this is currently not possible one hundred percent of the time. But we have set ourselves this goal and are working hard to achieve it,” explains Werner Ott. In 2022, for example, the company launched a large-scale pilot trial in partnership with Swiss farmers to grow yellow peas in Switzerland. So far, peas have been sourced from France. “Yellow peas are important to us, because they serve as a protein base for the production of our products in addition to wheat and soya,” says Ott. “Swiss protein pea cultivation promises proximity to our suppliers and producers. This would be a major advantage for the environment, since shorter transport routes reduce CO2 emissions and improve the sustainability of our products.”
From chicken to burgers – vegan products for gastronomy
The company wanted to establish itself through gastronomy from the start. “Because gastronomy stands for expertise. That’s where we come in. We have already succeeded in doing so in Switzerland in the first year. Over 150 partner restaurateurs help spread the word about The Green Mountain brand all the way to guests,” Ott emphasizes. Diners expressly order The Green Mountain Burger, which is served with a little flag. “When the experience tastes good, we see it as a door opener for retail.”
Positive feedback from restaurateurs for The Green Mountain products
The products are very well received in restaurants. “We have vegan turkey breast on the menu, a plant-based filet from Green Mountain. We also offer plant-based ground beef at the island restaurant on Ufnau, which we serve as meatballs and ground beef with pasta,” says the Zurich-based multi-gastro entrepreneur. Michel Peclard. The experience so far has been positive. “We value the fact that the products come from here and are not flown in from overseas,” says Peclard. It’s a difference you can taste. The vegan and vegetarian customers of his foodservice operations have been praising and cherishing these dishes. “And when someone who is sceptical decides to go for it, we don’t see anyone losing their appetite – on the contrary.” It’s a sense of togetherness, rather than antagonism. “Currently, we’re in the process of winning over Baba, our barbecue anchor-man from the Pumpstation establishment, to the vegan spare ribs,” Peclard says.
A real meat alternative for meat eaters too
At Restaurant 60/40, at the slaughterhouse in Wiesbaden, there are vegan burgers as well as steak and meat loaf alternatives on the menu. “The topic started with the search for an alternative for our meat burger. We source the burger meat from a small organic farm in the area. This limits the amount of available meat and therefore we limit the number of meat burgers per day. This meant we needed an alternative for vegans and omnivores,” says Operations Manager Daniel Hilsenbeck. With the burger from The Green Mountain, they have found the perfect product, which has also been embraced as a full-fledged alternative by guests who wanted to eat a meat burger. “Over time, we’ve reduced the proportion of meat dishes on the menu using alternatives from The Green Mountain instead. The start-up has managed to take the green core image of vegan substitute products and makes it easier for omnivores to reduce their meat consumption,” emphasizes Hilsenbeck.
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Green Mountain has even arrived at the football stadium: In Vonovia Ruhr Stadium at VfL Bochum 1848, plant-based alternatives to bratwurst and currywurst are available at the same price as traditional sausage. Overall, the new sausage alternative is also popular with meat eaters among VfL fans. And vegetarians are grateful. “Now I can finally eat something in the stadium as a vegetarian. A late but cool move,” says one happy user on Instagram.
Award and ideas for the future
The success proves that these Swiss are right! The Green Mountain was awarded the 2021 Swiss Vegan Award as “Newcomer of the Year”. Additionally, the company’s meatloaf won the “Salty Food” category and the “Best Vegan Chicken Fillet” PETA Vegan Food Award in 2022. So what are other plans for the future? “We serve the raw area in particular – in other words, alternatives to pieces of meat. To my knowledge, The Green Mountain is the first supplier to produce a vegan chicken breast. It is as neutral and versatile as possible.
It would often be easier to just be vegetarian. “But this is definitely not our goal. The vegan community is well-informed and connected. This is why cross-border initiatives, such as the Veganuary, have also emerged,” says Ott. In addition, the range is constantly being expanded. “I can’t reveal exactly what this means. However, it will again go in the direction of meat pieces. But the UK and USA will have to wait a little longer,” says the managing director with a chuckle. Now, that’s something to look forward to!