From Niche to Mainstream: Top Reasons Why Plant-Based Foods Are Taking Over the Food Industry

Top Reasons Why Plant-Based Foods Are Taking Over the Food Industry

From meatless Mondays to tofu turkeys, plant-based foods are branching out and taking over plates, hearts and minds!

As our world evolves, so too do our eating habits. The rise of prominent plant-based meat substitute brands, such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, has captivated consumer attention and fostered greater accessibility to plant-based alternatives. This shift towards plant-based foods is not only driven by health considerations but also by a heightened environmental consciousness.

With the insatiable demand for plant-based options, the market is set to explode. A new report by Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) predicts that the plant-based foods market is projected to capture a substantial share of the global protein market, reaching 7.7% by 2030. This phenomenal surge in popularity translates to a market value exceeding US$162 billion, a massive leap from its 2020 worth of US$29.4 billion. In this article, we’ll delve into the key factors propelling the dominance of plant-based foods in the ever-evolving food industry. 

Less meat, more benefits 

As more and more people are looking for ways to improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, plant-based foods have emerged as a clear winner. This type of diet encompasses a wide range of foods derived from minimally processed plants, like fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and excludes animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. Packed with a nutritional punch, these foods have also been proven to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. 

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a plant-based diet can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by a whopping 52% in young adults. This groundbreaking research highlights the tremendous potential of plant-based eating for improving heart health. 

The health benefits of plant-based diets lie in their abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Fiber aids digestion, regulates blood sugar and promotes satiety for weight management. Antioxidants combat inflammation and oxidative stress, reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring compounds in plants, have been shown to possess protective properties against certain types of cancer, making plant-based diets an effective strategy for cancer prevention.

Innovation, innovation and innovation

Innovation, the catalyst of growth and dominance, is propelling the thriving plant-based food industry forward. Companies continuously strive to refine their plant-based offerings, unveiling new and captivating options that cater to ever-evolving consumer preferences. These innovations not only attract new audiences but also unlock untapped market potential, paving the way for plant-based foods to gain a significant foothold and transform the food industry. 

Beyond Meat and Daring Foods stand as prime examples of industry trailblazers, astonishing the masses with their lifelike plant-based meat substitutes. Their creations are so realistic that they are can easily deceive meat-eaters. Meanwhile, Perfect Day has leveraged a fermentation technique to create dairy alternatives with the same proteins as cow’s milk. 

These opportunities extend beyond meat and dairy, encompassing plant-based seafood, ice-cream, eggs, cheese and sustainable packaging. As the plant-based food industry continues its upward trajectory, we can expect to see a steady stream of exciting and innovative products hitting the market.

Plant-based accessibility boom

With the growing demand for plant-based options, the food industry is undergoing a monumental shift towards increased accessibility to these products. Leading fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King have embraced the trend, offering plant-based burger alternatives on their menus. Supermarkets have also expanded their offerings, stocking plant-based meat substitutes, dairy alternatives and a diverse range of plant-based snacks and ready-to-eat meals. This newfound accessibility is democratizing the plant-based movement, transcending geographical and dietary boundaries. 

Additionally, the pandemic-induced lockdowns acted as a catalyst, propelling plant-based alternatives to new heights. Driven by a collective desire for positive change and healthier, planet-friendly food choices, consumers turned to online shopping as a gateway to a treasure trove of diverse plant-based delights. From global flavors to culinary adventures, a world of plant-based options became just a few clicks away. 

This perfect convergence of circumstances has unleashed the irresistible allure of plant-based alternatives, reshaping the very fabric of the food industry. As accessibility continues to expand, more individuals are likely to embrace a plant-based lifestyle, leading to further growth within the industry.

Sustainable and ethical consideration 

Beyond the health benefits, an increasing number of individuals are drawn to plant-based options due to their commitment to sustainability and ethics. The growing demand for plant-based products and ongoing industry innovations are driving down the cost of plant-based products, making them more affordable for consumers. 

It’s important to dispel the misconception that adopting a plant-based diet entails relying solely on expensive alternatives like vegan cheese or impossible meat. In reality, the core of a nutritious plant-based diet consists of affordable whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. By prioritizing these accessible plant-based staples, individuals can enjoy the benefits of a sustainable and ethical dietary lifestyle without straining their wallets. 

What truly sets plant-based diets apart from their animal-based counterparts is their lower resource consumption and reduced environmental impact. The meat industry, in particular, contributes significantly to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, posing significant threats to our planet.

Opting for plant-based options, such as the incredibly versatile tofu, empowers individuals to make a substantial impact on reducing their carbon footprint and safeguarding precious natural resources for future generations. 

A report by StartRight sheds light on the water footprints of various food, highlighting the stark contrast between plant-based and meat-based choices. For instance, while a soy burger has an estimated water footprint of 158 liters, a beef burger’s water footprint reaches a staggering 2,350 liters. That staggering 14-fold difference underscores the undeniable environmental benefits inherent in plant-based foods.

By making conscious choices and embracing plant-based options, individuals are taking an empowering step towards fostering a more sustainable and ethical food industry. Not only does this decision promote personal health and well-being, but it also contributes to the collective effort of preserving our planet for future generations.

Embracing the power of plants: The future of food is green

The plant-based food revolution is in full swing, transcending the boundaries of veganism. Health-conscious individuals, as well as those with a deep commitment to the environment, are increasingly turning to plant-based foods for their multitude of benefits. From mitigating the risk of chronic diseases to embodying sustainability and ethical values, the reasons to incorporate more plant-based foods into our diets are limitless. As the plant-based food market continues its meteoric rise, it becomes increasing evident that the future of food lies in the realm of green. 

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Header image courtesy of Freepik


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