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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Guest Column: The Need for Healthier and Tastier Processed Plant-Based Food to Replace Meat

A year back, an unheard virus, COVID-19 came knocking on our doors and completely changed our lives. The novel coronavirus shook the world, especially on the health and economy front. However, it also forced human beings to take a break from their monotonous and tedious lifestyle and change certain habits and conduct. The fear of this deadly virus made it obligatory for people to take more precautions about what they are consuming, applying or purchasing in general. The world has become far more hygienic and health-conscious than ever before, and certain practices will likely stay for a prolonged period.

The lockdown and its positive effects on environmental rejuvenation were evident to everyone. The pandemic has also made us aware of the negative impact human dealings have on the environment. It has also created awareness about the problems facing humankind, including those originating from animal agriculture. Today, with the world working hard to adapt to the new normal, most people are taking the high road and making a mindful decision in terms of eating habits. These pragmatic lifestyle changes are essential for humanity and crucial for the conservation of our green environment.

Large amounts of meat consumption affecting the ecosystem?

In a report by PETA India, the global meat industry is the of the most significant contributor towards ecological disbalance. The continuously increasing consumption of animal-based products and overexploitation of marine species as food resources are primarily responsible for growing pollution, degrading sea life, and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the WorldWatch Institute, animal agriculture, mainly as a food resource, contributes to 15 to 20 per cent of the methane gas emission worldwide.

Raising animals as food resources also requires colossal amounts of land, water, food and energy resources. Experts estimate that animals must be fed up to 10 kilograms of grain for just one kilogram of meat in return on average. The world’s cattle population consumes food roughly equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people– which is more than the population of earth. In a world where one in every six people sleeps on a hungry stomach, the aforementioned statistics seem a bit unfair.

The solution – equally tasty and healthy plant-based products

The halting pause brought by the pandemic worked as a catalyst for the people who were planning to make some significant lifestyle changes. The brilliant documentaries like Seaspiracy, A Life on Our Planet with Sir David Attenborough and The Game Changers play a considerable role in raising awareness among the masses. However, the question is that though the plant-based lifestyle or diet is sustainable for the planet, is it completely replicating the levels of nutrients and vitamins that one can get from meat-based food items?

A few years back, the answer would have been negative, but everything is possible with new-age and upgraded technologies. Today, the leading food tech companies can recreate the same taste and texture as a meat product with only plant-based ingredients. On top of that, the futuristic technology can induce essential vitamins such as B12 and amino acids in the plant-based alternative. In fact, plant-based foods can even the macronutrients such as proteins and offer better-than-meat levels of fibre and zero cholesterol benefits.

The road ahead

A report by Good Food Institute highlighted that India has close to 70% non-vegetarians out of which 63% are willing to try plant-based products as long as it tastes the same. The frontrunners of the Indian food tech industry are continuously evolving and experimenting to produce the best possible product. Especially the companies manufacturing plant-based foods are consistently trying to offer equally delicious taste, quality and, if not more. Therefore, it is clear that plant-based products are apt alternatives to over-consumed meat products, and this sustainable lifestyle is the way towards a bright and healthy future.

(Contributed by Sandeep Singh, co-founder of BlueTribe Foods. Views expressed are personal)

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