New Delhi– The uniquely diverse dynamics of India make it one of the prime treasures of savoury goodness. However, even though India’s population makes up 18 per cent of the world’s population, it has one of the lowest meat consumption rates in the world. But occasionally, India is a nation where luxurious palates consisting of lip-smacking Butter Chicken, Macher Jhol, and Lamb Korma entice 70 per cent of the population.
Often referred to as “flexitarians”, this population is mainly vegetarian with infrequent fish and meat consumption. Food ingredients like Soya Chaap, mushrooms, tofu, and seitan appeal to a large portion of the Indian population. Due to the chewy, tangy, and similar texture of these food elements, many Indian foodies like to replace these items with traditional meat products. Industry experts refer to these people as “closet non-vegetarians,” meaning someone who likes the taste of non-vegetarian food but is restricted from making vegetarian choices because of lifestyle, health, and sometimes religious beliefs.
However, the advent of plant-based meat and food products has absolved these barriers between hardcore non-vegetarian food lovers and closest-vegetarians. These foodie categories can all include high-protein, low-cholesterol meat substitutes in their daily diets and get the same taste, texture, and cooking satisfaction as derived from traditional chicken, mutton, or other meat items.
The modern saga of planet-friendly food alternatives
The modern trends of veganism and vegetarianism were already on the rise when COVID came knocking on our doors unexpectedly. However, given the long hours of lockdown confinement, experts stressing the paramount importance of healthy diet and hygiene, and people worldwide witnessing several positive environmental phenomena, all this led to a tangible and simultaneous movement around the world. People today have started to appreciate plant-based meat because of its better nutritional value and eco-friendly factors. When one can get the same taste, texture, and proteins from plant-based meat, then why opt for traditional animal-based meat items?
Since the early 1960s, meat production and consumption have been increasing steadily. Mainly because of the rising income status and growing population, people can afford to eat meat today more than ever before. Even so, Indians are noteworthy exceptions. While countries like China and Brazil, with thriving economies, are also consuming large quantities of animal-based meat, India hasn’t followed suit, despite the average income rising almost triple since 1990. However, considering that 80 per cent of the Indian population is suffering from protein deficiency and 93 per cent is ignorant about daily protein intake, many public and private groups are promoting the notion of greater protein consumption. This is one of the many reasons why Indians are in favour of choosing meat substitutes.
Plant-based meat products in popular Indian culture
Considering the evolving palates of new-age generations, many modernistic cafes and restaurants have started using plant-based meat substitutes to roll out delicious risotto, pasta, burgers, pizzas, and even traditional Indian cuisine. In fact, an international pizza restaurant chain also launched a magnificent plant-based pizza for consumers trying to live a sustainable, healthier, and greener lifestyle. In the last decade, many Bollywood celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Alia Bhatt, and Shahid Kapoor have shifted their allegiance to vegetarian and even vegan lifestyles, and some of their followers have adopted the same. Many of these celebrities have stated that the perfect blend of nutrition, taste, and texture with a dash of freshly procured herbs integrated into futuristic plant-based meat products has made it easier for them to lead a purposeful and green lifestyle.
Earlier this year, in August, a Bloomberg Intelligence Report stated that owing to the accelerated trend of sustainable and eco-friendly products, the global plant-based food market is expected to witness fivefold growth by 2030. Carbon footprint, negative environmental impact, a desire to make healthier choices, and animal welfare causes have all encouraged people all over the world to make more sustainable and environmentally friendly choices, and Indians are no exception.
With time, food technology is bound to increase, and the quality of plant-based meat and food items will improve. Considering that consuming plant-based meat is better for the health of people and the planet as well, governments are also likely to support this initiative. Many non-vegetarians also think that even just opting for plant-based meat won’t budge the global carbon footprint, but the truth is far from it. Given that meat and dairy account for nearly 57 per cent of carbon emissions (nearly twice as much as plant-based products), a concerted effort can make significant progress toward reviving the planet.
With time, food technology is bound to increase, and the quality of plant-based meat and food items will improve. Considering that consuming plant-based meat is better for the health of people and the planet as well, governments are also likely to support this initiative. Many non-vegetarians also think that even just opting for plant-based meat won’t budge the global carbon footprint, but the truth is far from it. Given that meat and dairy account for nearly 57 per cent of carbon emissions (nearly twice as much as plant-based products), a concerted effort can make significant progress toward reviving the planet. (IANS)