Cajú Love: Upcycled Plant Meat

Cashew fruit is a by-product of the cashew nut industry and the folks at Caju Love are upcycling it by turning this unwanted waste product into their amazing plant meat that is free from gluten and soy and is also organic!

Nowadays, it seems like vegan products are being made out of every plant under the sun, but here’s something we’ve been curious about ever since we first heard of it: vegan meat made from the fruit of the cashew.

When we heard that the founders are based here in the Hawaiian Islands, that intrigued us even further! Raised on the east coast of the United States, Cajú Love’s creators Alana and Felipe are first generation immigrants from South America. They are passionate about creating a positive impact on the lives of their consumers and the planet through their products.

“Being plant-based, we’ve always loved all the meatless alternatives — and we’ve probably tried almost all of them! But what lead us to the creation of our product was getting creative in the kitchen with whole food ingredients, which lead us to stumbled upon what we share with you today – cashew fruit meat.”

Caju Love package

Why Cajú Love?

The Cajú Love website explains that thousands of tons of cashew fruit is thrown away every year from the cashew nut industry, with thousands of tons more discarded by the cashew juice industry. Both make use of the nut and juice but discard the fiber, making upcycled cashew fruit meat a highly sustainable food source.

Here in Gentle World, we share the passion of the founders for whole food ingredients, and we also love that Cajú Love is organic! And for our friends with food allergies, it contains no soy, and no gluten. Its entire ingredients list consists of one item only, making this fascinating product appealing both to non-vegans seeking unprocessed plant meats, as well as vegans looking for a more wholesome and clean plant-based meat alternative.

We were super-curious to give it a try in the Gentle World kitchen, and we found it to be a really interesting ingredient with a lot of potential for adding an extra depth and dimension to all sorts of vegan dishes. Cajú Love lasagna? Yes please. Cajú Love barbecue? Don’t mind if I do…

The product has a remarkably neutral flavor when it first comes out of the package, so don’t expect it to taste like typical plant meats that come pre-seasoned. The upside to the neutral flavor is that you can add whatever flavors you like, and essentially use it like a ‘blank canvas,’ as the instructions suggest.

For those who feel more comfortable with recipe suggestions, they came included with our delivery, and they have tons more available on their website.

Inside our Caju Love package

While we enjoy all sorts of different plant meats, it was actually very refreshing to open a package that wasn’t oozing oil or overly-salted. We used a small amount of oil when sautéeing it in the pan, but we found that it didn’t need much, and that was definitely welcome as far as we’re concerned, as we prefer to limit the amount of oil we use.

Adding garlic, salt, tamari, and nutritional yeast all seemed to be a plus for the flavor, but what really stood out to us was the texture. You can slice the product, or just pull it apart by hand or with a fork, and with a bit of cooking in the pan, it does result in a remarkably ‘meaty’ feel, that at the same time melts in the mouth and doesn’t leave a greasy aftertaste.

And honestly, it doesn’t take much to dress up this intriguing ingredient. We decided to keep things simple by mixing it into a simple vegetable sauté, which allowed us to really taste the cashew meat.

Veggie sautee with Caju Love
Our Cajú Love veggie sauté with onion, cabbage, carrot, orange bell pepper

Our verdict? Yes! We are believers. We would definitely love to try this product again and test it out in different applications in our vegan kitchen.

The only downside we can see is that some people might find this product to be a bit pricy at this stage. We think the price is not unreasonable when you consider that it’s a fantastic upcycled product from a new startup, and that it’s even organic, which can be hard to find in the world of plant meats. We hope we’ll see the price start to come down as the product gains traction and becomes more widely available.

In the meantime, the company currently sells their product online nationwide, and they are also partnering with vegan and health food stores as well as cafés and restaurants looking for a clean vegan alternative. This versatile, and high-quality whole food plant-based meat alternative is now available at BESTIES Vegan Paradise, Los Angeles; Food Fight! Grocery, Portland; Orchard Grocer, New York, and also on Amazon.

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