Meet ProteinTECH 2019’s Keynote Speaker: Shama Lee

Shama is reimagining the food system with innovative engineering. Starting with meat, her breakthrough startup Sunfed uses clean technology to make delectable meat without the animal. Shama’s goal is to create healthy and nourishing end-to-end food systems from the soil to the water to the human that is globally scalable. Food is the foundation of human health, and the largest form of energy we consume with a massive footprint impacting the whole planet. Shama believes changes in the food system will have the biggest bang for buck – the better the food system, the better the wellbeing of all life.


Here’s something that might surprise you: Shama Lee is not a fully-fledged vegan.

“I eat green-shelled mussels. I think they’re very sustainable,” she says. “The more you farm them, the more they filter the water. That’s good.”

Sustainability is on Lee’s mind a lot these days. The former software engineer chucked in her successful tech career four years ago to create Sunfed Meats, a New Zealand-based company that creates meat alternatives out of yellow pea protein.

Why did she do it? Two reasons. “I had an identity crisis,” she says. “I was going through my life on auto-pilot.” So she quit her job and took a year off to focus on her future. “I couldn’t get up and go to work when it doesn’t mean anything to me. “

And the second? Lee had been trialling different diets, trying to find one that worked for her. “It’s really hard to switch from meat. I definitely relapsed a lot of times,” she says.

She struggled to reconcile her love for animals with eating meat. But when she settled on a mostly plant-based diet, she was unsatisfied by the range of protein alternatives on offer. “When I didn’t want to eat chicken, it was really difficult to find an alternative,” she says.

So she designed her own, spending years researching and developing the technology and machinery required to turn sustainably sourced plant proteins into “meaty, long, succulent fibres”.

 

Read More about Shama Lee’s journey >>

Source: New Zealand Herald

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