Protein Day 2021: Indians discover the power of plant proteins

·Contributor
·8-min read

Last year, Right to Protein, a national-level public health initiative started Protein Day, an annual awareness day observed on February 27, to rally towards the mission of protein awareness and sufficiency in India.

Today as we celebrate India's second Protein Day, the theme shines the spotlight on plant-based sources of protein and encourages Indians to learn and know more about different types of sources available and their importance in daily meals for better nutrition and health.

Research studies reveal that consumers are becoming conscious eaters. While taste is still the number one motivation, people are more aware of the nutritional quotient of the food they eat. The Plant-based Protein trend is poised to grow across the country as new products deliver on the joy of healthy eating.

Did you know that your body needs 60 gms of protein to meet its daily requirement? This means you would need to eat about 8 cups of dal, drink seven glasses of milk, eat 250 grams of paneer or consume 4-5 eggs a day. Unfortunately, nearly 73 per cent of our country’s population suffer from protein-based deficiencies while almost a considerable 90 per cent remain unaware of their daily protein requirements.

Proteins, after all, are one of the most essential nutrients in our diet. They extend a variety of benefits and are indispensable in terms of their high nutritional value, weight management, and strengthening of the immune system. While this nutrient is rightly termed as the ‘building block’ of life, the Indian diet features a high deficiency of protein. The reason why many Indian companies are looking to fill this gap by offering an innovative mix of plant-based protein products.

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Say Hello to Tempayy

Launching today, Vegolution’s clean label veg protein range, Hello Tempayy, is made from super beans, and is available in ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook formats that can be embraced as a staple. Made by fermenting the best quality soybeans, Hello Tempayy, makes for a perfect snack, a filling meal or a healthy stress binge. Packed with protein, high in fibre and rich in taste, it is easy to cook, and takes any flavour you wish to throw at it.

Siddharth Ramasubramanian, Founder & CEO, Vegolution says, “Many consumers, especially women across age groups, are seeking nutrition beyond just protein in their daily food consumption. The most commonly talked about ones are gut-health, fibre, vitamin B12 and iron. We focused our efforts on addressing this demand as Hello Tempayy products are fortified with B12 and iron and replete with a number of other essential nutrients.”

It has been scientifically established that a diet featuring more plant-based proteins and lesser percentage of animal proteins is optimal for long-term health and fitness
It has been scientifically established that a diet featuring more plant-based proteins and lesser percentage of animal proteins is optimal for long-term health and fitness

Speaking about the benefits of plant-based proteins vs proteins from other meat/poultry sources, he opined, “It has been scientifically established that a diet featuring more plant-based proteins and lesser percentage of animal proteins is optimal for long-term health and fitness. If vegetarian high protein options were more readily available that would certainly make a difference.”

He also believed that copying and pasting the various plant-based and vegan trends that are active in the West may not be the right approach for India. “We should strive to discover solutions that are tailor-made for our country by driving research and development in a direction that is Indian consumer-centric,” he said.

Made by fermenting the best quality soybeans, Hello Tempayy, makes for a perfect snack, a filling meal or a healthy stress binge. Packed with protein, high in fibre and rich in taste, it is easy to cook, and takes any flavour you wish to throw at it
Vegolution’s clean label veg protein range Hello Tempayy is made from super beans, and is available in ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook formats that can be embraced as a staple

Vegolution consciously chose Tempayy as it ticked all the boxes for the Indian consumer. Being high in taste, nutrition and versatility, it also features a plethora of other benefits - high in protein (with all the 9 essential amino acids), good for gut health and rich in fibre and iron while being low in carbs. It’s a rare mix of usability across meal occasions and cuisines and its wholesomeness makes it a complete food for the new generation of Indian consumers. Vegolution has launched Hello Tempayy in Bengaluru which is available in four exciting ready to cook variants: Natural Tempayy, Simply Sriracha Tempayy, Peppery Szechuan Chilli Tempayy and Spiced Tawa Masala Tempayy.

A Vegetarian Egg?

Rahul Dewan was driven by the urge to create a business with a significant social impact , and hence funded the " Mock Meats" research at the NRDC at IIT Delhi, that conducted extensive research to come up with India’s first Vegetarian Egg. His venture, PlantMade India offers products like Moong Mayo and Coconut Milk apart from the Vegetarian Anda.

This Vegetarian Anda is made by using a wide variety of plant-based ingredients like moong, flax seeds, tofu etc but the culinary properties are very close to a real egg. With the Vegetarian Anda, you can get quality vegetarian protein in your diet, without any cholesterol and 1/5 times the fats compared to a conventional Egg.

With the Vegetarian Anda, you can get quality vegetarian protein in your diet, without any cholesterol and 1/5 times the fats compared to a conventional Egg
With the Vegetarian Anda, you can get quality vegetarian protein in your diet, without any cholesterol and 1/5 times the fats compared to a conventional Egg

Internationally, companies like Just Egg and Beyond Meat have already made strides in offering a wide plethora of plant-based protein alternatives.

Is India ready for this plant protein wave in terms of supply? Prakarshi Pulkit, Chief of Innovation at PlantMade says, “India is rapidly growing in terms of the consumption of non-vegetarian food choices specifically poultry (Egg and Chicken). Our inspiration for forming PlantMade was to slow down this growth by offering a range of mock meats - vegan egg and dairy included - to Indian consumers and eventually to countries internationally.”

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He adds that although most market research says that a majority of the " young " population of countries like India and China are open to trying plant based alternatives, the alternative product companies now have the daunting task of meeting high expectations of taste, price and convenience.

Companies like GoodDot, Good Mylk, MisterVeg, Greenest are continuously growing, only validating the fact that the market is there, it just needs to be developed a little. India has a great repertoire for skilled technical talent, variety of indigenous grains and relatively inexpensive manufacturing. India is also home to some of the world's most favourite ingredients in the plant-based world - jack fruit, moong dal, soy and wheat.

“Initially we would have to rely on imports, but I'm sure as the markets begin to catch on, the larger manufacturers and corporations will be jumping onto the plant based wagon, like they have all across the world,” predicts Prakarshi.

Food technologists and chefs all over the world are racing to find the next revolutionary grain/vegetable that would act as a replacement for animal products, providing the taste, nutrition and functionality of animal protein
Food technologists and chefs all over the world are racing to find the next revolutionary grain/vegetable that would act as a replacement for animal products, providing the taste, nutrition and functionality of animal protein

Food technologists and chefs all over the world are racing to find the next revolutionary grain/vegetable that would act as a replacement for animal products, providing the taste, nutrition and functionality of animal protein.

“We have seen some promising results come from using breadfruit/ mushrooms/ elephant yam for fish, jackfruit for lamb and pork, textured vegetable protein for chicken/beef, variations of seitan, tempeh, etc. There is a large variety of unexplored grains/vegetables available in India, and our researchers are constantly on the lookout for new technologies in food processing and packaging to create sustainable, taste and healthy meat analogues,” adds Gaurav Chauhan, Business Development Manager, PlantMade.

Understanding Proteins

  • Our muscles, hair, nails, organs, bones are all majorly made of proteins. Virtually every. body part contains protein. Protein is just as energy-dense as carbohydrates. And hence, it can also work as an energy source.

  • Our body doesn’t store protein and hence, it is either created from scratch or made by modifying existing protein in the body.

  • Chemically, protein is a polymer chain of Amino Acids linked by peptide bonds. A human’s body needs 20 types of amino acids to function properly. Out of these 20, the body cannot produce nine amino acids.

  • These nine amino acids are called essential amino acids and we must acquire them from our diet.

  • After consuming protein, it gets broken down into singular amino acid building blocks, and then put back together in different arrangements as per the necessity and dispatched to perform various tasks throughout the body

  • A protein source that contains all nine essential amino acids, is called a complete protein source.

Plant vs Animal proteins

  • Contrary to animal-based protein, plant-based protein is packaged with antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins etc.

  • Plant-based proteins reduce inflammation, optimise blood supply and gut flora. They are instrumental in athletic performance and recovery. Many international athletes made startling comebacks after switching to a plant-based diet.

  • Plant-based food contains 64 times of antioxidants compared to animal foods.

In a study by Harvard Medical School, researchers found that substituting 3% of calories from animal protein with plant protein was linked to a 12% reduced risk of dying from heart disease and a 10% reduced risk of dying from any cause during the 32-year study period.

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