7-9 September 2023 Bombay Exhibition Centre,
ANUFOOD India 2023
Exploring the current plant-based food trends that have taken the globe by storm
Photo - Blue Tribe
Author- Vini Sharma
Leafy greens, earthy nut crunch, and citrusy pulps are a few of the main elements of a healthy plant-based diet. A diet, if followed, promises a rewarding future.
With the new age bringing in a constant parade of better or healthier diets, many doctors and nutritionists (especially post-pandemic) have encouraged their clients and patients to adapt to a plant-based lifestyle. A healthy plant-based diet consists of only fruits and vegetables (minimally processed), grains, nuts, seeds, spices, and more, excluding any form of animal product varying from meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs.
A plant-based diet is scientifically proven to improve immunity and offers health benefits such as preventing chronic diseases, natural detoxification, and aiding weight loss. As part of a healthy lifestyle, consuming plant-based foods can help achieve good health while being kind to the planet. Also, following a plant-based lifestyle can be rewarding as it helps conserve the planet from marine life destruction, deforestation, carbon footprint, and much more.
With all the benefits discussed above, plant-based food will surely be the next big thing. A major shift has been observed amongst consumers as they seek tasty, camera-friendly, yet healthy and sustainable food whenever ordering. India has also taken some evident steps toward this sustainably conscious shift, such as releasing educational posters to endorse the benefits of a plant-based diet or running government campaigns such as the #EatRightIndia campaign.
Taking note of this, many brands have also added plant-based products and dishes to their product portfolio and menus. This has led to developments in the plant-based meat and dairy-free milk segment.
A plant-based diet is more than just eating fruits and vegetables from the produce aisle. Some of the new trends and developments in plant-based foods are mentioned below.
Plant-based seafood substitutes
Plant-based foods are not limited to meat and dairy. Seafood like shrimp, fish fillets, and tuna salads are among the few products companies are exploring. Plant-based crab cakes were displayed at an international expo, signifying the rising sector. Ocean-friendly snacks like roasted seaweed and puffed kelp chips that contain micronutrients such as vitamin K, B6, and iron are also being explored.
Meat-vegetable hybrid foods
Some consumers are actively seeking to reduce their animal meat intake. To cater to this group, meat companies fill their burgers and nuggets with vegetables—for instance, chicken nuggets with a blend of cauliflower and chickpea.
Owing to advancements in technology and several innovations, non-dairy cheese has gained attention worldwide. Its taste, richness, melting abilities, and creaminess are at par with dairy-based cheese, thus allowing some restaurants to feature vegan pizzas on their menu.
Meat-less meaty meat
Meatier-tasting plant products that do not miss out on the nutritional value of meat are some of the latest trends observed. Many brands have come forth with meat alternatives varying from soy, tofu, jackfruit, pea protein, wheat gluten, and much more. One of the significant reasons for this shift is that plant-based meat is also free from hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs that may be found in traditional meat products.
Lactose intolerance is one of the major factors driving the sales of plant-based milk made from soy, oats, almond, cashew, rice, and much more. In terms of nutritional value, soy milk comes the closest to animal-based milk. Taste-wise, consumers prefer almond milk over other variants.
With work from home being the new normal for the past years, the long sitting hours have raised the demand for healthy snacking. Many interesting, healthy plant-based snacks are being introduced in the market. These include chewy dried fruits, fruit and nut bars, fruit leather, crunchy fruit chips, roasted nut, chickpeas, and vegetable chips, to name a few.
Plant-based egg alternatives
Plant-based egg alternatives are one of the fastest-growing products in the category. The rise in flexitarianism is fueling this market. Some examples include vegan egg whites and boiled eggs. These products mostly use peas, fava beans, turmeric, chickpeas, and other ingredients to achieve an egg-like texture and flavor.
How to keep up with the trends?
The ideation behind the formation of a uniquely different plant-based lifestyle was simply for a sustainable tomorrow. The current pace at which we have been chomping down meals without thinking has done grave damage to our planet. Animal agriculture alone is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the exhaust from all transportation combined. This healthy, sustainable trend must be worked on for a fruitful tomorrow for future generations. This initiative has led to a revolutionary change amongst many brands, all lining up to join the plant-based foods wagon.
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