For some time now alternatives to meat have become commonplace in our shops and supermarkets. It is fair to say this is partly due to the rise in vegetarianism and veganism, but there is a lot more to it than that. Whereas in the past people have chosen to abstain from eating meat simply because of moral or spiritual reasons, in the modern age there is clearly a great many other factors which are driving this new trend.
Meat alternative or protein substitute in Asia?
It should be remembered that meat is not eaten in the same way in most Asian countries as it is in the west. A western dinner plate will have meat as the central attraction whereas in China – a dish like tofu is not seen as a meat substitute – it is a very popular meal and enjoyed in its own right. A Meat alternative or plant-based substitute are really nothing new to the Asian diet. In China again, plant-based substitutes were first recorded in the Tang dynasty over 1000 years ago. In this way, the Asian palette is excepting what the west considers meat alternatives as an enjoyable meal already and very much part of the daily diet. But since the early 21st century that production companies have promoted these foods for because of new principles.
Sustainability, health awareness, and education
Consumers are becoming more health conscious and aware of the suffering of animals. Advances in science and technology and accompanying indirect education has led to consumers being more aware of what they are buying and how it may affect their health. In an effort to promote healthy eating, governments have imposed stricter regulations on food processing and packaging information. Sustainability issues have become central to everyday living (in connection with the meat supply chain) and as governments create environmentally friendly policies, both businesses and buyers are adapting or looking for tasty, cheaper and easily accessible alternatives.
Recent crises have placed the meat supply chain under pressure: the African swine flu (which still continues to spread across Asia) and of course Covid-19. Also, as countries in South East Asia prosper, a new middle class is thriving. This has led to the opportunity for consumers to be diverse in their buying and eating habits. So, what are the alternatives out there for people living in South East Asia?
What are the most popular meat alternatives?
Typically found in the US, Europe and Australia, the finished product is often shaped to resemble its animal counterpart. Many feel it is an acquired taste while others feel there is little difference to the meat product it is mimicking. But there is no doubt that the soybean offers huge nutrition: each bean contains about 35% protein and also the amino acids to enable the human body to digest it. The majority of soya production comes from the US, Argentina and Brazil.
Lupins are perhaps one of the more astonishing sources of protein. Most commonly used as a substitute for milk, yoghurt and eggs, they also offer a gluten free product. As well as containing a substantial number of vitamins and minerals, lupins contain about 40% protein. The one thing lupins have over soybeans is they can be developed in cooler climates. Soybeans need the warmer climates present in the Americas
Beans and Lentils
Beans, lentils and peas all offer a substantial amount of protein. As of yet these vegetables have not reached the market in cutlet form but only time will tell. However, what is becoming popular is using lentils as a spread or a pate: healthy and tasty. This type of product is great for farmers as they hardly need any fertilizer to grow. Beans and lentils in the western world are known more perhaps as a side dish but they contain great amounts of protein.
Seitan or wheat protein
In its raw state this is a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Unfortunately, this benefit is often lost in preparing it for consumption. However, the one advantage it has over many of its rivals (such as soya beans for instance) is it can be grown in most parts of the world – it does not need really warm climates.
This resource comes from the remnants of the sunflower oil process. Sunflower seeds contain protein, amino acid and many B vitamins.
Fungus over chicken
This name sounds rather distasteful. Which is probably why its name was changed and we now know it more typically as Quorn. Basically, it is made from fermented mould fungus with added vitamins and egg proteins.
Future investment in meat alternatives looks good
Caroline Bushnell, the associate director of corporate engagement at the Good Food Institute (GFI) stated in an interview to Food Business News that investors in the food industry “have seen the market trend towards meat alternatives and are capitalizing on the global shift”. She went on to say that the industry is experiencing record levels of investment which can only lead to support in growth and continued innovation in this area in the future.
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