Redefining Protein – Beyond MeatApril 4, 2017
Move over meat—vegetables are increasingly taking over the spotlight as consumers look to eat healthier and reduce their impact on the planet. Items like pea protein powder, portabella “burgers,” raw nut bars, jackfruit shredded “meat” and soy chorizo are popping up left and right on restaurant menus and in retail. Home and restaurant chefs alike are getting more creative at using vegetables in a “meaty” way, proving that a delicious, protein-packed meal doesn’t have to have meat as its star.
This new movement is a modern twist on vegetarianism driven by many consumers’ desire to lower their meat consumption. According to a study by data and insights firm GlobalData, nearly 7 out of 10 global consumers say they’re moderating their meat consumption or avoiding it altogether. But rather than being confined to a specific elimination diet, the current rise of veg-centric eating is a shift in attitudes towards the role of vegetables in meals, says Nicole Peranick, Director of Culinary Thought Leadership for Daymon.
“The emphasis is on new and exotic flavors and dishes, rather than being meatless. This style of eating is becoming increasingly popular since it provides a way to balance health and craveability without feeling the need to compromise,” she explains.
This lack of need to compromise not only applies to taste, but also to nutrition. Today’s plant-based proteins can be just as nutritious as their meat-based counterparts—with a lot less fat. For example, both beans and beef are made up of 20 to 25 percent protein. But beans contain no saturated fat. They’re also better for the environment—using twenty times less water to produce as compared to the same amount of beef, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Peranick predicts that as consumers continue to seek out the benefits of a more “plant-powered” lifestyle, reimagined applications of vegetables will continue to expand in retail.
To begin capitalizing on the trend today, she says retailers and brands should evaluate their options to expand veg-centric offerings across the store—for example, offering more mushroom varietals in the produce department and plant-based proteins in fresh and frozen meal components. New services, like a vegetable “butcher” and veg-centric cooking classes, as well as partnerships for promotional opportunities, like Meatless Mondays, also provide a wealth of opportunities to explore.