Vegan foods as replacers for animal based food products


Supreetha. S1 and Divya Panneerselvam1

Vegan foods are plant based food which provides all the nutrients required for the normal functioning and development of the body. Due to ethical and effects related to occurrence of diseases, many consumers are shifting towards the vegan diet. World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that, 75 % of the diseases discovered in the last decade is zoonotic i.e., it is originated from animals. The processing parameters and the resources involved in processing and preservation of meat products are higher as compared to the plant based products. Owing to the vegetarian population, the market for vegan food products is increasing at a higher rate. A great initiative and trend, veganism not only creates awareness about the many deadly diseases which can be spread from animal based products but also reduces the cruelty towards animals, wherein they are killed for human consumption in meals (milk, honey, eggs, meat) and other kinds such as clothing etc. However, there are certain nutrients which are mostly available in animal products only, eg, Salmon and Tuna fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, cow's milk is considered to be the most nutritious. Here we present to you healthy and easy substitutes for various animal products.

Benefits of vegan diet
Numerous studies have reported that, the individuals on vegan diet have less risk of obesity, less risk of occurrence of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Vegans are also prone to less risk of diabetes mellitus and certain types of cancer especially related to gastrointestinal (GI) tract, breast, ovaries and uterus in women. Individuals on vegan diet have lower body mass index (BMI) which helps in better control of body weight as compared to animal- based products consuming individuals. 

Animal- based products replacement in vegan diet

Dairy products involving milk obtained from mammals especially cattle on a commercial scale shares a major market for the animal-based product consumed. Milk obtained from dairy animals can be replaced by milk extracted from plant sources like, soya- bean, cashew, almond, coconut, oats, etc., The main purpose of milk consumption is to obtain essential nutrients like, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Studies have reported that, plant- based milk when used in combination provides all the nutrients present in dairy milk. Milk obtained from cow, buffalo, sheep, goat, etc., are converted into various products to obtain functional properties, convenience and preservation. Paneer, yogurt, cheese prepared from milk can be replaced by tofu, soya yogurt and vegan cheese with similar physico- chemical and rheological properties. 

Eggs are especially consumed to meet the protein requirements of the body. However, eggs serve various application in food processing industry viz., emulsion, foaming, thickener, retains moisture, etc.,To obtain the required functional property, eggs can be replaced by plant- based products. Chickpea broth (Aquafaba) can be used as substitute for egg white due to its structural similarity of protein and carbohydrates. To impart the taste similar to egg, black salt is added due to its high sulphur content. Ground flax seeds is used as replacer for egg powder owing to its binding properties. Similarly, tapioca starch is used in egg replacement products to enhance the thickness, viscosity of the product. 

For days when you cannot stand to eat another slice of tofu, give tempeh a try instead. The texture is more on the nutty side and it’s got a chalkier, grainier feel to it. Originating from fermented soybeans, it’s packed with calcium, vitamins, and ample doses of fiber. It does taste a little on the bitter side, but streaming it for just five minutes removes the bitter aftertaste. It’s great as a fish replacement and is also ideal to replace ground beef too.

Texturized Vegetable Protein
The beauty of texturized vegetable protein is it’s an affordable protein source that packs down and keeps for ages. It is based on dehydrated soy protein, so it must be rehydrated to use it. It is purchasable either as little granules or in large chunks. Ideal to add to salads, as the meat in a Chili dish, or the meat component of a tasty vegan slider burger, this protein source is a flexible one that’ll fool you

Meat replacers
Meat replacers are of high interest in market as well as research as a huge number of consumers are willing to replace meat with plant-based substitutes to obtain their nutritional requirements. Soya bean with high protein content is processed into several products like texturized vegetable protein, meal maker to obtain the protein content and textural properties similar to that of meat. However, the nutritional profile of meat can be obtained by consumption of a combination of pulses, cereals, millets, etc., Vegetables like jackfruit, potato, sweet potato, beetroot can be used as ingredient in cooking to obtain taste and texture similar to meat products. 

Market status of Vegan food 
The global market share of the plant- based food to expect to reach USD 10,982 million by 2022 with CAGR of 6.7 %. It is reported that, the vegetarian and vegan products have increased from140 to 440 % in the world market. The incidence of occurrence of various animal borne diseases at as the key factor in shifting interest of consumers towards vegan foods products. The role of several non- governmental organizations (NGO) are taking part in spreading awareness regarding the animal welfare and possible measures that can be undertaken to reduce their exploitation. India is emerging as the leading market for vegan food in the world especially in Asia-Pacific region. Due to comparatively larger vegetarian population, vegan food has huge market potential in India. It is estimated that, 63 % of Indians in 2019 are willing to replace meat with plant- based protein. The Indian vegan market is estimated to reach USD 47.57 million by 2026 and forecasted to grow at CAGR of 7.48 % during 2021- 2026. The vegan food product market in India is driven by increased health concerns, ethical and growing awareness among consumers. It is estimated that, the vegetarian population in India is expected to bolster the market growth over the years. 

FSSAI regulation on vegan food
Owing to the increase in market size and shifting interest of consumers towards vegan food, FSSAI the apex unit of Government of India has proposed the action draft on Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2021. The definition of vegan food, general requirements for a food product to be considered as vegan, compliance and labelling requirements has been mentioned in the draft regulations. As a step further, in order to aid and simplify the identification of vegan food from non-vegan food, FSSAI has adopted a new logo which depicts the English alphabet “V” with leaf and the word “Vegan” written in green color that indicates, the ingredients used in the product are of plant origin.  

Key industry players in vegan food market 
Although all the plant based food products like fruits, vegetables are available in various convenience form like Ready-to Eat (RTE), Ready-to cook, Ready-to serve, etc., some of them might contain milk products, honey or other animal- based ingredients. Hence, several food industries are introducing vegan products for the benefit of vegan population. The key players in the vegan food industry are Muller Vegan, Vegan pro, Soyfit, Organic India, etc., With the advantage of Veganism, Vegan diet and plant based foods are paving their way in the market. The common people are now getting empathetic towards the voiceless animals and leaving the non vegetarian diet. Taking up a vegan lifestyle not only makes the body strong and immune to other diseases such as avoiding animal bone diseases (one of the biggest examples could be the present COVID-19 virus, which is allegedly borne from a bat) but also promotes peace and makes the world a safe place for the animals to live.

Author’s Bio 
1Senior Research Fellow, ICAR – National Dairy Research Institute, SRS, Adugodi, Bangalore, Karnataka – 560030
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