Understanding Plant-Based Foods – What, Why & How
Subtitle: If you ever found the term plant-based food and were unable to understand it, let us explain it to you in detail.
Have you recently come across the term plant-based food? And did you have a hard time understanding what it stands for? Why do we even need such foods and how are they made? We are going to answer all these questions in this blog.
The WHAT Question
Recently, there has been a growing use of the term plant-based food, but not much awareness is there regarding what it actually means.
Basically, a plant-based food means minimally processed plant origin products like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, herbs and spices, grains, legumes etc. This excludes all kinds of animal-origin products including milk, dairy, eggs, fish, meat and poultry etc. Also, this term is being used interchangeably to refer to foods of plant-origin that are made to mimic animal products like milk, meat and others.
A lot of plant-based food companies have come up in the past years that sell plant-based meat, dairy, eggs etc. The idea is to give the consumers a plant-based product that resembles meat/egg/milk in flavour, texture, colour and cooking properties. In this way, even vegetarians or vegans can experience the taste of animal products.
Also, plant-based foods are an excellent source of proteins of animal origin as they mimic the nutritional composition as well. So, everyone gets to provide their bodies with the nutrition of an animal-based diet
The WHY Question
Now, the question arises as to why do we even need plant-based foods? The answer involves a lot of factors and considerations. The benefits of having plant-based products are numerous. Let us look at some of them in detail:
1. Environmental :
Did you know how consuming meat and other animal products could actually impact the environment? Animal agriculture for obtaining animal foods has a huge impact on our earth and environment. The consequences are hard to overcome or reverse. These include:
- Animal agriculture uses 77% of agricultural land and supplies food to only 17% of the human population. This is a waste of so much land and resources.
- Also, animal agriculture emits a lot of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. This is even more than the pollution caused to the transportation sector.
- And how can we forget the aquatic pollution and water wastage caused by this? A lot of water is required for rearing animals and obtaining products from them.
- Plant-based foods solve all of these problems to a great extent. They require less water, less land for cultivation and cause minimal amounts of climate change. Also, it does not require the use of antibiotics or other harmful chemicals.
2. Health :
A plant-based food product is good for the body and has several health benefits like reduced inflammation, reduced risk of diabetes, heart diseases, better gut health, lower cholesterol levels etc.
Also, other health hazards associated with animal foods are eliminated here and pave the way for a healthier body. Animal foods can cause several digestive problems, heart diseases and even lead to obesity. Meat can even cause cancer and strokes and lead to decreased lifespan.
A vegetarian diet has always been proven to be healthier and more effective, but animal foods have a lot of nutrients, majorly proteins. Plant-based foods solve this issue as well as they have been engineered to have the nutritional benefits of animal foods, especially proteins.
Thus, you now have a healthier, safer option with the same taste and nutrition as of any animal food.
3. Cruelty-free :
All of us know the cruelty animals face when they are reared for animal agriculture to obtain animal foods. They are killed mercilessly for obtaining meat and other such foods.
The question is why? Do we really need to kill animals or harm them for this? The answer is no and the solution is again plant-based foods. You can get that taste, flavour and nutrition of meat through plant-based/ vegan meat. Similarly other products like milk, eggs are also available with a vegan option.
So, why be brutal? We can let animals live and create a better ecosystem for future generations through the consumption of plant-based food. It is sustainable, healthy, safe and yummy at the same time.
The HOW Question
Now you are wondering how a plant product can be made to be similar to the animal counterpart? The answer lies in the advancement of science and food engineering.
Scientists and various brands have been able to crack the code and develop animal like plant products. Here are a few pointers to help you understand this:
- Most important attributes like appearance, texture and flavour of meat are due to the reaction called the Maillard reaction that occurs in meat. Scientists have replicated this reaction in plant foods to give them similar aroma and flavour when cooked.
- Various ingredients like emulsifiers and thickeners have been used to replicate animal food properties in plant-based ones. Processing methods like moisture extrusion have been employed to give the vegetable protein a similar structure like that of animal protein.
- Plant ingredients high in protein are used to develop food products having similar nutritional qualities. For example, soybean, peas, chickpea are among the various popular ingredients used.
To understand more about this technology, you will need to dive more deeper into scientific terms and internal structures of animal foods. These things are beyond the scope of discussion of this blog.
In the end, we hope to say we have clarified all your doubts about plant-based foods and taken a step in the right direction to generate awareness about the same. We need more and more people learning about this and then adopting it in their lifestyle to heal their bodies, help the environment and save animals too.
If you want to contribute to our initiative, spread our message. And if you want to experience the taste of yummy plant-based meat, order from us today!