Plant-based meat is taking over the world. Curiosity, health, and ethics are the reasons who are driving consumers to try these vegan products. Tofu, tempeh and seitan stand out for their high biological value and are gaining ground in the plant-based foods market in Europe, which has already reached a value of 3.6 billion euros and will continue to grow in the coming years, according to forecasts. Organic is key to avoid greenwashing and veganwashing in this trend.

Plant-based market in Europe is booming

According to the Smart Protein‘s «Plant-based foods in Europe: How big is the market?» report (February 2021) with market data from Nielsen, the European plant-based food sector has grown by 49% in just two years, reaching a total sales value of 3.6 billion euros. Plant-based milk leads the market in most countries, followed by plant-based meat. In particular, the plant-based meat market grew by 31% in terms of sales value.

Almost 90% of sales come from fresh vegetable meat (80 million euros) in Europe. The remaining sales are of frozen vegetable meat (3.4 million euros) and at ambient temperature (3.1 million euros). Veggie burgers stand out with a value of 17% and account for 3% of the sales volume (Lantern‘s «The Green Revolution» report, 2021).

The European plant-based food sector has grown by 49%, reaching a total sales value of €3.6 billion

Germany experienced an increase of up to 226% in terms of the value of plant-based meat sales. Also noteworthy is the growth rates in France, which experienced a 100% increase, and Austria, where sales value grew by 82% during the period analyzed. The vegan meat leads the plant-based market in the United Kingdom with a sales value of 502 million euros, Smart Protein points out.

Meat consumption decreases

The vegan meat market in Spain reached 87 million euros between 2019 and 2021. And according to forecasts by Research and Markets, the annual growth of the plant-based food sector in Spain will exceed 521 million euros in 2023, with a growth of 6.7%.

46% of Spaniards consume less meat

According to the results of the pan-European survey «What consumers want», conducted by ProVeg International in collaboration with Innova Market Insights, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Ghent (November 2021), 46% of Spaniards eat less meat than a year ago. The report indicates that four out of ten people plan to reduce their meat consumption in the immediate future. Specifically, 38% consider consuming meat occasionally (no more than once a week) and 28% also plan to reduce their consumption of animal-based dairy in that timeframe.

The fact is that more and more people are joining the veggie community every day. In Spain, 13% of the adult population (5.1 million consumers) already considers itself vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian («The Green Revolution», 2021). Reasons include the fight against climate change, ethics, activism, and health care.

Organic against greenwashing

A social and cultural change is taking place. And that is leading to more conscious and responsible consumption models, focused on reducing environmental impact and promoting social sustainability. However, this goes hand in hand with greenwashing and veganwashing, forms of misleading marketing that aim to create the perception that products are environmentally friendly, even though they are not.

Organic is committed to honest and sustainable production practices

The rise of plant-based products that often contain dubious and undesirable additives and ingredients is only an example. Official certifications such as the EU Organic Logo guarantee honest and sustainable production practices and products designed for health, as well as taste.

Products with a high biological value

Proteins carry out vital functions in our body: they contribute to the regeneration of tissues and cells, maintain metabolism, stimulate defences and regulate the hormonal system, among many other functions. Their role is key, so we need to replenish them daily through our diet.

In this change in the food paradigm, plant-based proteins play an important role due to their high biological value. They have a high proportion of essential amino acids. In addition, they are easy to assimilate, low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and help prevent cardiovascular diseases. This makes them ideal foods to complement a healthy and balanced diet.


Plant-based alternatives to meat beyond tofu: tempeh and seitan

Plant-based proteins can be found in pulses and cereals, but vegan meat stands out for both its versatility in the kitchen and its protein content. Tofu is the vegan meat par excellence. It is derived from soybeans and has a creamy texture and an appearance similar to fresh cheese. It is the star of vegan and vegetarian menus. However, there are other nutritionally interesting products to replace meat in our diet.

Seitan and tempeh stand out for their versatility in the kitchen and their protein content

Seitan is known as «vegetable meat» because of its similar appearance. It is a wheat gluten-based preparation, highly appreciated in plant-based diets for its high protein content: in addition to being low in fat and containing many essential amino acids, it has a protein content of about 24%. Since it is the perfect substitute for meat, there are many recipes: it can be made with pasta as a substitute for minced meat, in batter, with rice, in a stew, sautéed, etc. Cooked in a broth with soy sauce it is more nutritionally complete.

On the other hand, tempeh is made from fermented legume grains (soybeans, beans, peas, chickpeas, etc.). Its texture is firm, compact and tender, similar to that of meat, and it is also rich in natural probiotics and fiber, which promote the health of the organism. Its nutritional contribution also makes it an ideal substitute for meat and fish. In addition, it can be found marinated in soy sauce, which gives it a powerful flavor. In cooking, it is used sliced or shredded, although it can also be fried, stewed or grilled.

©Vegetalia. Sweet potato spaghetti with tempe

Vegetalia: Nearly 40 years of organic plant-based alternatives

«To offer healthy and organic food that allows people to approach an ideal life in harmony with themselves and their environment» is the aim of Vegetalia. Founded in 1986 by Salvador Sala Druguet, Vegetalia is a pioneer in the production of quality vegetable protein.

Commitment to artisanal and sustainable production

Since its beginnings, Vegetalia has been committed to the production of natural and organic foods in balance with artisan tradition and sustainable farming. Its production activity is concentrated in an old farmhouse located in Castellcir (Barcelona), which is configured as the production unit of the Midsona AB Group. In fact, it is currently one of the few producers of tempeh in Europe.

Vegetalia is one of the few producers of tempeh in Europe

Surrounded by 40 hectares of forest and 30 hectares of crops, the warehouse produces Vegetalia’s range of products under sustainable and environmentally friendly systems. Artisanal production methods are complemented by state-of-the-art technology to make the best use of natural resources and reduce environmental impact to a minimum. For this reason, part of the energy that the workshop uses on a daily basis comes from solar panels and biomass. Thanks to this natural energy, Vegetalia points out, a climate of calm and well-being is created, which is reflected in the final result of its products.

©Vegetalia. Sautéed rice and quinoa with seitan

A benchmark brand in plant-based meat

Vegetalia is a benchmark in the production of organic vegetarian and vegan products. Plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan are its main pillars. Among its references are six different varieties of tempeh (soybean, soybean macerated with tamari, chickpea, chickpea macerated with tamari, pea, and four grains) and a wide range of seitan (fresh, smoked, spelt wheat) available in different formats to prepare and complement any recipe.

Vegetalia continues its research and development of new organic, plant-based products

Its extensive catalogue also includes an assortment of veggie burgers, vegan cheeses, preserves including hummus, nut spreads, and vegetable pâtés, as well as a line of condiments, sauces and sprouts, appetizers and snacks.

With the values of health, sustainability, quality, innovation, naturalness, creativity and disclosure always present, almost 40 years after its birth, the brand continues with the search and development of new organic, plant-based products.

Author: Ariadna Coma, Journalist.

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