There has been a shift to adopt plant-based diets in recent years. While it has largely been more prolific in Western countries, Asia is increasingly catching up in the plant-based revolution.

With growing awareness on environmental issues, there has been a greater push to consume in a more sustainable manner. Environment aside, consuming less animal products is also becoming fashionable and trendy with hip influencers uploading videos and photographs of their plant-based diets on social media.

The quality of plant-based meals and restaurants are also on the up.

Photo by LikeMeat on Unsplash

Asia’s rapidly evolving food scene is leading the charge with inspiring new plant-base launches. For instance, Tokyo-based Next Meat has unveiled vegan Japanese yakiniku grilled meat in Singapore, while peanut-based chicken from Haofood debuted in Chinese and Indonesian recipes through various partnerships with Shanghainese food services.

Going plant-based is fast becoming a burgeoning market as retail sales of meat alternatives in Asia-Pacific grew to an estimated US$1 billion in 2020, according to Innova Market Insights. The market researcher reports robust sales growth in this category, set to spike further in the coming years.

Given that meat is part of so many traditional menus, the key to preserving culture while also being sustainable is to develop plant-based meat and this is certainly the view taken by Haofood.

Ten months after its establishment, Next Meats, the Tokyo-based alternative meat brand behind the industry’s first plant-based yakiniku meats, has made its debut in Singapore. The company is collaborating with the Japanese restaurant Aburi-EN, where two types of meal sets using the Next Kalbi (short rib) will be available.

Made largely from soy proteins, the Next Kalbi contains double the amount of protein and half the fats than that of regular meat. It also does not contain any chemical additives or cholesterol due to its lack of animal ingredients. Certainly, signs that plant-based is not only more earth-friendly but also healthier!

Photo by LikeMeat on Unsplash

Next Meats also recently launched its signature plant-based barbecue meats Next Kalbi and Harami (short-rib and skirt steak style, respectively) in the meat section of Ito Yokado, a Japanese superstore chain. This is the first time Next Meats products are going to be sold in a retail store alongside regular animal products! Plant-based meats were previously displayed in the soy products, dried foods or preserved food sections, which the company notes as a contributing factor to consumers’ lack of interest and association with protein alternatives. While giving plant-based meats a strong positioning and opportunity to reach new customers, it also sends a powerful signal to the public that plant-based is now mainstream!

A superstore chain like Ito Yokado displaying Next Meat’s plant-based meats alongside animal meat could lead to a “paradigm shift” in consumer perceptions of alternative proteins being an equally sufficient source of protein as animal meat.

With consumers paying greater attention to a product’s carbon footprint and, suppliers are responding with innovative and cruelty-free products. Together, perhaps we can truly leave a kinder and better world for future generations.

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