The Rise of Vegan Cuisine in North America

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The Rise of Vegan Cuisine in North America

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 The Rise of Vegan Cuisine in North America
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Change has been the only thing constant since the beginning of the human race. Had there been no change, we would have still been out hunting for food instead of posting pictures of our meals on social media.

A significant shift is underway in the world currently. It may not sway the course of humankind's history as did the discovery of fossil fuel or the shift to green energy, but it is still quite an impactful one.

We are talking about a plant-based lifestyle, or more commonly, the vegan lifestyle, which is slowly seeping into mainstream culture to not only change the food on our plates but our lives at large. 

What is plant-based meat? 

The term 'plant-based meat', while self-explanatory, can seem like a bit of an oxymoron.

In this context, what is referred to as 'meat' is basically an alternative 'faux meat' derived from the plant. The trick here, of course, is to make it feel and taste like regular meat. Many manufacturers even do a fantastic job at capturing the color and other properties of meat in these plant-based products so well that it can, in some cases, trick the biggest foodies. 

Image: Pixabay

Does vegan meat have any advantages?

While critics of vegan meat alternatives continue to berate this initiative, advocates claim that they come with immense benefits.

Plant-based meats are considered healthier than the regular kind due to their lower calorie count and saturated fat. Its production is also said to be more eco-friendly than raising cattle for slaughter. And speaking of slaughter, animal-lovers tend to adopt vegan lifestyles simply for the reason of avoiding the killing.

As per reports, UN experts believe that a shift toward a plant-based diet will significantly influence our fight against climate change. 

So, if you are considering replacing that gasoline-burning car with a battery-driven electric vehicle for the sake of the planet, you may want to look into plant-based hamburgers for the same reason.

Plant-based meat and emissions

Reports have shown that more than fifty per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions generated in the food industry come from animal products.

But as alarming as that figure may be, asserting vegan lifestyles on people at large is not a feasible option.

The United Nations considers the fact that people in many countries do not have the option to go vegan. Even if there's a choice, it is not often affordable for a significant portion of the population. Hence, for the sake of the nutrients that come with it at a comparatively reasonable cost, regular meat is not going anywhere any time soon.

But a point to be noted here is, vegan options are widely available and considerably affordable in countries like the United States and Canada. And alternatives of a lot of nutrients found in meat and dairy can be found in vegan foods.

As for the taste and texture, there are a few ingredients that make vegan patties a lot more like regular. 

For instance, California-headquartered Impossible Foods uses genetically engineered Heme, an iron-rich compound, to add that 'bleed' feature to its products to make it appear like it was sourced from beef.

Studies show that if more people opt to include plant-based food and reduce meat in their diet, hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide can be prevented from being released into the atmosphere. 

Where are we in time with the shift to plant-based meat?

Like we said in the beginning – the change is underway. 

In 2020, the vegan meat substitute market reached 1.4 billion American dollars, thanks to popular brands like Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and MorningStar Farms. 

Beyond Meat has already partnered with popular brands like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. In China, it collaborated with KFC, the brand known for its fried chicken, to make plant-based beef wraps for the Chinese market.

At the end of the day, what we eat should be our choice, whether it's real meat or the faux kind. This choice, however, can be an informed one.

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