The Popularity Of Alternative Meat Products

As an online culinary arts student, you have to be up to date on all the trends in the food world. One trend is the rising popularity of plant-based diets. According to a report from Mintel, 36 percent of shoppers surveyed bought alternative meat products. In fact, the market saw an 8 percent growth from 2010 to 2012.

Who’s buying it and why
Of the people who regularly purchase alternative meat products, less than half use it to replace real meat. The majority eat it alongside animal products. The report attributed growing interest to consumer health concerns. As people become more aware of negative chemical additives – such as the GMO​s present in mainstream animal feed – they are moving away from meat. The quality of animal protein has been questioned as consumers face factory farming. Alternative products – while not completely guaranteed to be healthy – are often sold in health food stores and carry organic labels.

Important non-meats
When you become a chef, you are sure to encounter patrons who prefer meat alternatives. For this reason, having a solid knowledge of cooking and serving these items is important. Familiarize yourself with the key players in the alternative meat game. Starting with:

Tofu: Tofu is made from soybeans, which are the most versatile legumes on the planet. A single serving of this food is packed with 10 grams of protein, 25 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium, 11 percent of iron and 5 grams of healthy fat. Tofu can be marinated, rubbed, grilled, fried, steamed and sauteed. Basically, whatever cooking method you use for meat, you can use for tofu. Soy beans are also the most common ingredient in packaged meat alternatives.

Seitan: This protein-rich product is made of wheat gluten or flour or spelt flour. Seitan is low-fat and has no saturated fat. This product is very versatile. Like tofu, it can be marinated and cooked in just about any way imaginable. It has a richer, meatier texture than tofu, which is why many consumers like it. Use seitan crumbles in chili or tacos or create a cutlet that you smother in gravy.

Tips for vegetarian cooking
Creating filling, flavorful vegetarian or vegan dishes can be a challenge. Using alternative meat products in your recipes certainly helps, but there are other tricks you can use. As you’re taking your online culinary courses, build up your spice rack. The right blend of spices can turn any dish into a rich delight. Choose ingredients such as legumes, beans and nuts to create a hearty dish.

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