A plant-based diet is popular with 4 billion people, while about 2 billion live primarily on a meat-based diet. The US food production system, a dominant meat-based market with a population of just 300 million, uses about 50% of the total US land area, 80% of its freshwater, and 17% of the fossil energy. A vegetarian diet is more ecologically sustainable when compared to a meat-based diet (Pimentel et al., 2003). A plant-based diet consumes much lower quantities of fossil energy and is more climate-friendly.
As awareness of the health benefits of plant-based food rises, people have become increasingly curious about the various protein sources. Even the traditional animal protein-consuming parts of the world are looking at this protein version as an option. By 2054, it is estimated that 33% of all protein consumed will be plant-based (Lux Research Estimates).
A study done by Innova Market Insights in 2014 saw a 14.7% growth in demand for plant-based protein, while the need for animal protein grew only by 7.5%. Such trends are being driven by people’s concerns about obesity and the associated lifestyle diseases it brings. Food safety issues related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) also contribute to this shift in consumption.
According to Mintel, today, the meat substitutes market is led by tofu and tofu ingredients-based products, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, soy, wheat, and mycoprotein. The tofu and tofu ingredients segment accounted for the largest share of the meat substitute market in 2017.
The meat substitutes market, estimated at $4.68 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $6.43 billion by 2023 — growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.8%. This market also has low-fat, fortified snacks along with meat-substitute products. Now companies like Quorn (UK), Meatless (Netherlands), ADM (US), Du Pont (US), and several others specific to individual countries and regions are focusing on such foods.
A plant-based diet is a healthier alternative to one laden with meat; It reduces the chances of artery blockage and artery hardening, which are common causes of heart attacks (Tuso et al., 2015; Hu.,2003). It’s been observed that subjects who follow a plant-based diet (especially legumes) have high levels of genistein in their urine. Genistein is also said to help prevent chronic degenerative diseases like cancer tumors (Fotsis et al., 1993).