In the fall of 2018, Jenny Goldfarb suddenly had a craving for a corned beef and pastrami sandwich.

For Ms. Goldfarb — who grew up in a New York Jewish deli family — it was the classic sandwich of her youth. But her yearning came with a hitch: She is now vegan.

So she started working with wheat protein, adding beets for a “meat” color, and dipping the mixture into different brines and spices. After a couple of months, she had come up with a vegan substitute. She took her vegan corned beef from her home in the San Fernando Valley to a Los Angeles deli, which placed an order for 50 pounds. She cried tears of joy in her car.

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