Great News, IKEA Fans: You'll Soon Be Able to Eat a Plant-Based Version of Its Famous Swedish Meatballs

IKEA's Plant Balls have 4% of the climate footprint of its regular meatballs.

Of all the life-changing products you'll find at IKEA, one that consumers are particularly attached to are the classic Swedish meatballs. According to Sharla Halvorson, health & sustainability manager for the IKEA food business globally, the affordable furniture giant sells more than one billion meatballs every year. Most shoppers would agree that buying a Billy Bookcase doesn't feel right without a lengthy lunch pitstop at the IKEA caf for meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce. It makes sense: the little pork-and-beef blended meatballs are creamy, fork-tender, and downright addictive.

But when you think about the impact that this significant amount of red meat might be making on the environment, it's no surprise that IKEA has considered more sustainable ways to sell its famous Swedish meatballs. Enter the Plant Ball, a plant-based alternative that has just 4 percent of the carbon footprint of the real-deal meatballs.

IKEA's announcement today states that the Plant Ball was designed with one intention: to recreate the meatball without meat, meaning its vegan alternative actually tastes like meat and doesn't compromise taste or texture. According to a press release, it's made from a wholesome mixture of yellow pea protein, oats, onions, apples, and potatoes.

"Imagine if we could get some of our many meatball lovers to choose the plant ball instead," says Halvorson. "If we were to convert about 20 percent of our meatball sales to plant balls, that would mean around 8 percent reduction of our climate footprint for the food business at IKEA."

The plant ball will be available in the U.S. starting September 28, 2020. IKEA stores will be serving the plant ball alongside mashed potatoes, lingonberries, and its classic cream sauce (i.e., in the same way as the traditional dish). It will also be sold at the same price. You can also choose to purchase a bag of frozen plant balls from the Swedish Food Market to prepare them at home—or buy both. The plant ball won't include any animal-based ingredients, which make it a suitable option for vegans, vegetarians, and meatball lovers alike.

IKEA plant balls

"In the development phase of the plant ball, our key objective has been to recreate the meat-like taste and texture, only using plant based ingredients. We have tried and tested different ingredients and methods and we are very pleased with the final results," says Alexander Magnusson, chef and project leader at IKEA food.

The plant balls are part of IKEA's overall initiative to inspire more sustainable eating and lifestyle habits for customers, in addition to lessening its impact on the planet's carbon footprint.

"In order to reduce the climate footprint of the IKEA food business, we need to reduce the amount of traditional meatballs that we sell. With the new plant ball we can now offer meat lovers a more sustainable alternative—without compromising on the IKEA meatball experience that is loved by so many," adds Halvorson.

If you can't wait to try the plant balls (and aren't venturing back to any IKEA stores in the near future), try making our delicious recipe for Swedish Meatballs—or their vegan alternative, Eggplant Mushroom "Meatballs"—from scratch instead.

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