NexVeg provides healthy, fresh alternatives to meat

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, January 2020

Written by Gail G. Collins

When engineer Jonathan Netzky set his sights on invention, things turned delicious. The founder of NexVeg has evolved and refined his meatless protein alternative more than 200 times and has found a slot on many menus in Flagstaff. At Diablo Burger, version #48 was dubbed the Netzky Burger and became a favorite. Their server points to any combination of toppings and sauces that complement, not mask, the burger.

The Southwest spiced, smoky patty’s base ingredient is indigenous Arizona tepary beans. The beans have been grown in our arid climate for centuries and deliver supreme nutrition.

There is always one friend in a crowd with vegetarian or vegan needs, and Diablo wanted to provide a tasty burger for them, too.

“We are making something no one else makes and can deliver it to your door with a quality no one else can match,” Netzky said.

Did you know that most veggie burgers out there rarely contain vegetables at all?

There are two approaches to meatless protein. One attempts to duplicate the taste and textures of animal products. The other gathers significant protein sources for the nutrition label, but generally, both contain highly processed ingredients like protein isolates, caramel color and carrageenan. In the end, such “burgers” are chemical emulsions relying on refined oils as two of the top three ingredients—all to mimic the satiation of beef, but they build an unhealthy burger.

Netzky, however, didn’t adopt the same mindset as other meatless protein producers.

“Is there a whole-food option that respects whole-food responsibility?” he asked. “Health is the common denominator for those seeking plant-based foods.”

The aim of NexVeg is to deliver on the promise of truthful, nutritious and convenient whole-food eating. It begins with legumes, which are important in the control and prevention of metabolic diseases, such as colon cancer and diabetes. In 2016, renewed interest in NexVeg’s viability was reported by the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.

NexVeg doesn’t promote an appetite for animal textures, but utilizes whole foods and light processing to create authentic plant-based foods with natural flavors and nutritional benefits. The product line begins with tepary or black beans, or a combination of hemp, pumpkin and sunflower kernels for a product rich in omega fats, fiber, iron and Vitamins A and C.

“There is no better complete protein source than these top-notch ingredients,” Netzky said.

There are no GMO sources, refined sugars, chemical additives or preservatives. Extra virgin olive oil is present in a small number of the 14 available products, but overall, NexVeg employs real food, like hemp kernels, wholegrain blue cornmeal and rolled oats, high mountain sweet kale™, garden-fresh onion, garlic and carrots, Medjool dates, freshly squeezed lemon juice and whole plant hemp CBD with natural wood-smoked seasoning and spices. It is as versatile as ground meat—shaped, grilled, baked or deep-fried—in home recipes with a veggie boost.

“With whole foods, everything is a flavor enhancer,” Netzky said.

He extols the various fibers, textures and bold, natural flavors from Grand Canyon and Mount Hope Spice Companies. Other local suppliers include Ramona, Whipstone and Duncan Family Farms, Flagstaff EcoRanch, Cortez Milling and Rousseau Farming Companies.

NexVeg products are non-allergenic and crammed with vegetables for peak flavor with a clean label. Netzky believes in the long view solution of sustainability as it concerns both human and environmental health. Seeds, sun, soil, water and nurturing of plant-based foods yield a net positive carbon footprint. Food manufacturers commonly lose 5 percent to waste, but NexVeg ships 95 percent product and composts, reuses or recycles 4.5 percent.

“We’re carbon sequestering through the growth of ingredients, focused on as local sourcing as possible,” said Netzky.

He believes contract, industrial manufacturing and traditional marketing restricts improvement. He seeks to solve food industry problems with an efficient processing system in a high-end kitchen that adapts to scale to distribute tasty, handcrafted, small-batch products. With two sites nationally, personal or commercial orders are processed on demand and delivered within two days.

In Flagstaff, Market Bar & Kitchen serves a double black bean burger and hash made with the smoky Southwest hemp product. Bandera’s avocado taco uses Netzky’s original tepary with homemade chorizo oil. Paul Moir’s Criollo Latin Kitchen and Proper Meats + Provisions also offer NexVeg alternatives.

This Illinois transplant came to Flagstaff to create a sustainable business. Now, Netzky’s innovative idea to provide superior nutrition that is simple, delicious, convenient and nationally accessible is a local reality. NAMLM

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