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Is Jackfruit the Next Meat Substitute?

Sara Diaz, from LNB Groves, cuts a jackfruit at the Monday night green market in downtown Miami, Monday, June 8, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Sara Diaz, from LNB Groves, cuts a jackfruit at the Monday night green market in downtown Miami, Monday, June 8, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Is Jackfruit the Next Meat Substitute?
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A large and unusual tropical fruit is becoming more popular in the United States.

The jackfruit is native to India. The big, spiky fruit grows in parts of Asia, South America and the Caribbean. It can weigh from 6 to around 30 kilograms.

Often used as a meat substitute, jackfruit has a lot of vitamins and minerals. Its neutral flavor works with all kinds of seasonings.

Now, with many Americans looking for plant-based alternatives to meat, jackfruit is becoming more popular.

This popularity has been growing for several years, noted Robert Schueller. He is head of marketing at Melissa’s Produce, a specialty produce company based in Los Angeles, California.

“It was about five years ago that the fruit started to really take off,’’ he told reporters from the Associated Press. “Vegetarians and vegans found out how this fruit could be used as a ‘meat substitute’ for pulled pork sandwiches and as a taco meat.”

Schueller said Melissa’s sales have increased sharply. The company went from selling a few containers of jackfruit each week to thousands of cases weekly.

In many places around the country, jackfruit is appearing not only at vegan and vegetarian restaurants, but other places as well. Tomatillo, for example, a Mexican restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, New York, has a quesadilla and a taco made with jackfruit.

In Chicago, Alulu Brewpub serves Vegan Sicilian Jackfruit Flatbread on a menu that also has pork belly.

Angela Means, owner of the vegan Jackfruit Café in Los Angeles, California, says people are choosing a vegan diet for many reasons. These reasons include environmental, health and moral concerns.

“We eat meat because of the texture and the spices. Jackfruit is a great substitute,’’ Means said. “We put it in tacos, and we make sandwiches, like a barbecue pulled `pork.’”

Jackfruit Café also serves a “fish patty’’ made of jackfruit and seaweed.

Means said her restaurant tries to educate people in the community about jackfruit and meat substitutes. She predicted “in seven to 10 years, jackfruit will be as popular as beef.”

I’m John Russell.

Katie Workman reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor. ___________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

vitamin – n. a natural substance that is usually found in foods and that helps your body to be healthy

alternative – n. something that can be chosen instead of something else : a choice or option

vegan – n. a person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products (such as leather)

pork –n. the meat of a pig

belly – n. the part of an animal's body that is like a person's belly

texture – n. the way that a food or drink feels in your mouth

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