2016 Is a Landmark Year for Meat Substitutes

The meat substitutes market will surpass $4 billion for the first time in 2016, according to a recent industry report. Though still small, the industry has been steadily growing. In 2015, it generated $3.86 billion in revenue, and it is project to grow by another quarter of a billion dollars in the next year.

Health concerns associated with meat are primarily responsible for the trend. Many people also recognize that eating less meat reduces the impact they have on the environment and the lives of farm animals. In a discussion of the report with, analyst Karina Sventitskayte noted that “Consumers of vegetarian food are not only vegetarians, but also non-vegetarians who want to change their diet towards consumption of less meat.”

Though tofu may be the best-known meat substitute, the report explores the full range of culinary alternatives. Soybeans also give rise to textured vegetable protein (weakly flavored, with a texture like ground beef) and tempeh (a chewy block of whole fermented beans). Meanwhile, pea protein and wheat-derived seitan challenge the dominance of soy. Yet the secret to one of meat’s subtlest mimics lies in mushrooms: quorn uses the root-like structures of a fungus to replicate the texture of animal muscle in burgers, chicken nuggets, and more. As the market for meat substitutes expands, being a reducetarian is only going to get easier—and more delicious.

Written by Cameron Meyer Shorb