Culinary Chronicles by by Donna Wesson

This series of Culinary Chronicles, written by Donna Wesson, is based on our Modern Vegetarian study. Through primary research via a netnography, secondary research with insights suppliers and culinary inspiration from our global Symrise chefs, we found there are 3 types of Modern Vegetarians: The Flexitarian, The Vegetarian Idealist and the Health Restricted Vegetarian.

Part 1 of our Modern Vegetarian series provided some insight into the different vegetarian diets. In part 2, we’ll focus on the protein sources which can be incorporated into the various vegetarian diets, specifically plant-based proteins and MAs, also known as meat analogues or meat alternatives.

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Examples of plant-based proteins include legumes, such as lentils, beans and peas; nuts and seeds; high protein grains, like spelt and quinoa. They can either be consumed individually, or used in combination with other plant-based proteins and ingredients to make MAs. Because of the increased popularity with consumers becoming more interested in a plant-based diet, vegetarians are trying such foods as fava beans and lupini beans, which they may not have consumed in the past.

Meat analogues have grown in popularity over the past year, with a variety of options becoming available as replacements for traditional meat based burgers, sausages and nuggets. The demand for MAs has increased as a result of the pandemic, with more people rethinking their dietary habits and improving their health.

So, what exactly are meat analogues or meat alternatives? They replace meat with non-meat ingredients, but the ingredients are combined and designed in a way to look and taste like meat. The plant-based proteins add different textures, mouthfeel and chew to MAs. Consumers no longer have to sacrifice flavor and texture when it comes to eating meat analogues.

PART 1: Unearthing What It Means to Be a Modern Vegetarian

With different beef type flavor tonalities and the addition of smoke and grill flavors, the flavor of plant protein bases are enhanced when combined with these flavors to deliver similar attributes to that of traditional beef burgers. Chicken type flavors are added to plant protein bases when creating vegan chicken nuggets, in order to deliver on the taste experience of eating real chicken nuggets. With the expansion of meat analogues above and beyond just plant-based burgers, vegetarians can now enjoy vegan dinner sausages. With pork type flavors, pork fat type flavors and spice flavors, vegan Bratwurst or Italian sausages are on the forefront of the meat analogue grocery space. They get the texture, bite, spice and fatty/pork type flavor, similar to that of real pork sausages.

A wide range of coloring options are now available for various applications. For instance, to make an uncooked plant-based burger resemble that of an uncooked traditional beef burger, vegetable extracts like beet juice can be used.

The future of plant-based proteins and MAs is extremely bright and promising. As more traditional meat eating consumers become curious about plant-based foods, we will continue to see food manufactures investing in innovation to stay ahead of the demand.

At Symrise Flavor North America, as consumer desire for vegetarian exploration and plant-based solutions increases, we believe it important to expand our expertise and build our competencies to meet today's trends. Having recently hired a Plant Protein Scientist, our competencies now include the ability to showcase our flavor, seasoning and functional solutions within market ready, plant-based protein analogues. In a short period of time we have developed plant-based burger solutions that have been sensory tested and validated as comparable or better than current marketplace products.

With this new model of developing and testing plant based products, in combination with our expertise, we are now poised to create similar success in plant based chicken, fish, cheese, sausage and deli meats. We are excited with our recent internal success around plant based chicken formulations for nuggets and patties that deliver an exceptionally comparable eating experience similar to a real chicken application.

With continued growth in this arena, we are poised to provide current and future customers with delicious, effective solutions in support of their new product launches.

To learn more about opportunities for innovation in plant-based proteins, reach out to a member of our team!

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