Imagine taking a bite of a succulent mutton keema samosa, and you are told that what you are eating is not a mutton snack but a plant-based alternative. That has to rock your world because what you have eaten tastes just like mutton. You take another bite just to confirm what you have been told is true. But no matter what, you can’t tell the difference. It is not an invented scenario borne out of someone’s imagination, nor is it science fiction. Plant-based meat is making its presence known with a range of alternative meat products disrupting the Indian market at an astonishing pace.
Plant-Based Meat Market and Size
In recent years, the plant-based meat industry has grown in popularity and market share. Consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits and long-term viability of alternative meat substitutes. On a global scale, plant-based meat market retail sales grew from $3.4 billion in 2019 to $4.2 billion in 2020, jumping by an astonishing 23.5 percent.
The fundamental drivers for the growth of the plant-based meat sector are an increasing vegan population, technological advancements, increased cholesterol-related health problems, and most importantly, changing consumers' perception towards sustainability.
Plant-based meat has been gaining traction in every part of the world, and the market in India is not left behind.
The Need for Plant-Based Meat
Consumers realize the adverse effect of meat consumption on their health and lifestyle. Although India has a substantial population of vegetarians - about 29percent, there has been a considerable rise in the number of individuals adopting vegetarian and vegan foods. Concern for the environment is a key aspect.
A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights the consequences of going down the road of unsustainable progress and ignoring key measures to safeguard the environment. The meat production industry adversely affects the climate. Approximately 14.5 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be attributed to the meat industry.
On the contrary, plant-based meat production can be less deleterious to the environment.
There’s only one step - the absorption of solar energy - required to create food in plants. It’s a clean process that yields proteins, carbohydrates, etc. Animals, on the other hand, need to consume a huge amount of feed, which is grown on pasture land cleared for this purpose. Animal meat production is dependent on the primary source of proteins i.e., plants. Wouldn’t it be efficient to extract protein directly from the source, completely bypassing the middlemen i.e., animals? You get direct access to an abundant source of protein without having to destroy the ecosystem.
Another crucial factor is the diminishing prejudice that animal products are the main source of proteins. A growing consensus in the scientific community is that plants are great sources of protein as well. Even if you consider animal protein being the best, a question worth mulling over is where do animals get their protein from? If livestock animals can rely on plants for fulfilling their protein requirements, why can’t we directly turn to the original source for our dietary demands? Isn’t it logical to eliminate the middlemen- read as animal products - and rely on plants for our protein requirement?
Health Benefits Offered by Plant-Based Meat
An ever-increasing awareness of unhealthy work habits and sedentary lifestyles has galvanized individuals to watch what they eat and ask whether healthier food alternatives exist. Approximately 63 percent of Indians, according to the Good Food Institute, are likely to purchase plant-based meat on a regular basis. While animal meat is a good source of protein with important amino acids and minerals, it also contains cholesterol, which raises the risk of chronic diseases when consumed regularly in large amounts.
One should be wary of the use of antibiotics for disease control and anabolic agents for enhanced growth of livestock animals. Consumers are willing to ditch conventional meat products and move to plant-based meat if a better and healthier alternative is available. Plant-based meat products give you the best of both worlds, a healthy future for the body and the planet.
Bridging the Gap in the Market
Many startup companies in India are expecting the mock meat market to flourish in the coming years in a significant way. Indian plant-based startups have products that cater to a wide range of customers. India consists of a varied customer base that shows some interest in mock meat. These include the ex-meat eaters who have parted ways with meat, meat-eaters who have turned vegan, fitness enthusiasts who want healthier alternatives, individuals who avoid eating meat on religious occasions, vegetarians who eat meat by choice as well as vegetarians who are curious to experience what meat tastes like. Using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, the right ingredients, and raising awareness among the young and future generations about the health and environmental benefits of plant-based meat over animal meat, Indian brands are ready to provide consumers with the means to lead healthy lives and contribute towards a sustainable future.
Even with numerous plant-based companies working towards the same goal, there is still a gap in the market because a large percentage of the population is still uninformed of this burgeoning industry. Therefore, it is critical to educate customers about the pros of this industry.
Plant-based alternatives will soon be able to relate well with both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, as a result of spreading awareness about the harmful effects of meat consumption on the environment and the health benefits of plant-based alternatives, as well as innovative technologies, thorough research, and the right ingredients.