Proteins is one of the essential components of the human nutrition. Supply of protein is crucial both nutritionally and environmentally. Animal meat is the main source of high-quality proteins and currently widely consumed by humans. However, the condition to create high-quality meat is demanding and requires usage of vast resources. Land and water usage to raise livestock are high which leads to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and other severe impact. Besides that, high intake of red meat can cause several heart diseases, worsen obesity, and increasing joint inflammation.
Because of that more people are starting to eat less meat and shift to plant-based or meat analogues. Purpose of it is to increase health condition, reduce environmental damage, and making food production sustainable. Meat-analogues have considerably lower greenhouse gases emissions thus providing higher environmental advantages compared to animal meats.
Regarding human protein nutrition, besides animal-meats, there are wide variety of sources on which these proteins can be obtained. wheat, rice, maize, and barely; oilseeds, such as canola and rapeseed; and food legumes, such as soybeans, peas, and chickpeas are the common sources. Each of these sources has different physicochemical, structural, and functional characteristic depends on the protein types. Soy protein is the dominant ingredient in the creation of meat analogues due to its abundance, low-cost, meat-like texture after hydration, and high-quality amino acid composition, which provides a similar protein quality to that of animal proteins.
Previously mentioned, people shift to meat-analogues because of their concern to health and food safety. Soy-based foods has been traditionally consumed for more than 2000 years in East Asian countries such as China and Japan which indicates that it is safe to be consumed. In the last few decades, soy-derived products have expanded to Western countries making it one of the economic sources of high-quality proteins. According to European customer research, meat analogues are accepted in 4 main groups of consumers. Number one is consumers who are trying to reduce meat consumption and looking for healthier nutrition. Number two is consumers who are conscious of animal welfare and sustainability. Number three is convenience and cost-oriented consumers and lastly is indulgence and innovation-oriented customers.
Meat analogues still possess challenges. Visible by the human eye, animal meat has fibres are visually perceptible. Meat analogues that are obtained by various processing treatments are different from animal meat because they lack the fibre structure. Which cause the lack of bite, and the juicy feel of the meat in the mouth. Therefore, the biggest challenge for meat analogue industries is to imitate the texture and bite of real animal meat, which may require special designs and processing. If it is not possible, then new formulation or new source of plant-protein is needed to fulfil the demands. Meatless Kingdom is one of the must try of meat analogue (plant-based) products that is delicious and healthy.
Source: Engineering, Volume 7, Issue 5, May 2021, Pages 674-678
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