The sausage is one of humankind’s first-ever designed food items, according to designer Carolien Niebling. It dates as far back as 3300 BC and was originally created to make the most of animal protein in times of scarcity. Today, England alone has over 470 different types of breakfast sausage, and in Germany, there are laws that dictate specific rules for the making of sausages. However, the world is facing a serious shortage of protein-rich food: meat will become scarce because of over-consumption.

Niebling wondered if the sausage could be “a medium to eat less meat in the future”, and after completing her Master’s in Product Design at ECAL, she initiated a long-term research project called The Future Sausage. Niebling catalogued different types of sausages, their various means of construction, and the types of skins that can be used. She also researched the lesser-known ingredients as well as the alternatives, and investigated their potential.

Collage of bangers and mash, accompanied by some of the pre-minced ingredients: chia seeds, potatos, and peas. Photo: Emile Barret
These results were formulated into a matrix that summarises all the categories and elements. Teaming up with a molecular chef and a master butcher, she created different types of sausage that contain less meat or no meat at all. Insect Pâté, for instance, is a sausage made out of insect flour, pecan nuts, and carrot juice, along with various spices. This sausage contains no meat, unless insects are considered as such. Fruit Salami, though, consists entirely out of fruit, with a structural base of hazelnut and almond flour.

A ground-breaking project, it won the Grand Prix of the Villa Noailles Design Parade. Having already successfully crowdsourced the money to publish a book, Niebling now intends to start a series of workshops for butchers. She aims to show that a future without meat is actually not a threat but a chance for butchers to use their machines and expertise to produce ‘future sausages’.

Various meat preparations. Clockwise, from top left: Carrot, apricot, and coconut dried sausage / Berry, date, and almond dried sausage / Insect salami / Berry and liver sausage / Apple blood sausage / Potato and pea fresh sausage / Vegetable mortadella. Photo: ECAL/Noortje Knul
Sausage model. Photo: ECAL/Younès Klouche
Sausage model. Photo: ECAL/Younès Klouche
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Sausage model. Photo: ECAL/Younès Klouche
The Future Sausage, by Carolien Niebling. Photo: ECAL/Younès Klouche
Traditionally, many types of meats and especially liver-based foods are eaten with a fruit-based accompaniment. Here, the mild liver is combined with a tangy and sweet raspberry gel. Photo: Jonas Marguet