Plant-based products continue to gain ground
The term plant-based is now much more than a hackneyed cliché for use by the food industry, trade and gastronomy, but what exactly is behind the growing trend?
But what is behind this trend? Plant-based is a phenomenon that has historical roots: plant-based products have a long history that goes back thousands of years. Even in ancient times, grains, fruits and vegetables were used as staple foods, and over time, people have developed various methods for preserving and preparing them.
In recent decades, however, there has been a strong shift towards increased consumption of plant-based products. There are many reasons for this, including health, ethical and environmental considerations, and the trend towards plant-based diets in Western societies is particularly striking.
Foundation in the 1970sAs early as the 1970s, health and environmental movements led to more and more people choosing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and, as a result, food manufacturers began to develop plant-based alternatives to traditional animal products.
The 1980s and 1990s saw further refinement of the technologies used to produce plant-based products, with the beginning of textured plant protein being used to make plant-based meat alternatives. However, these products often could not match the taste and texture of real meat.
Better and better, finer and finerIn recent years we have seen a further refinement of methods, indeed a veritable explosion, so to speak, in the variety and quality of plant-based products. New foods are already coming very close to the animal originals in taste, texture and nutritional content. Plant-based dairy products, eggs, meat and even fish have become a reality with companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods revolutionising the market for plant-based meat alternatives, developing products that appeal not only to vegetarians and vegans, but also to meat eaters.
More steps to comeFuture developments in food technology promise even greater breakthroughs, for example, scientists are working to perfect cultured meat grown from cells in the lab. This technology could offer an even more sustainable and ethical alternative to conventional meat.
The latest wave of plant-based innovations uses technologies such as fermentation and precision biology; companies such as Perfect Day and Clara Foods use microorganisms to produce animal proteins without the need for animal husbandry. Interest in the plant-based food market also continues to grow and studies show that more and more people are choosing plant-based products for health, environmental and ethical reasons.