Packaged foods go vegetarian

From MedicalPress | May 15, 2015

Vegetarian foods are positioned for success in the marketplace as public health advocates highlight the benefits of plant-based diets and a growing number of consumers embrace meat-free or meat-reduced lifestyles. Earlier this year, for example, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report included adopting a vegetarian diet among its recommended approaches to healthful eating. So it’s hardly surprising that mainstream food industry brands like Boca from Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., and MorningStar from Kellogg Co., Battlecreek, Mich., are expanding their offerings in order to increase market share and appeal to a greater consumer base.

In describing the DGAC report’s unprecedented vegetarian-focused advice, co-author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says, “It’s a breakthrough that would cause a paradigm shift in eating patterns with an increase in demand for healthy, plant-based packaged foods and meals in restaurants.” An expected rise in the number of people seeking to eat less animal-based food on health or sustainability grounds can also be regarded as an opportunity for manufacturers of vegetarian packaged foods, Hu said.

The DGAC report was welcome news for Nancy Chapman, registered dietitian and executive director of the Soyfoods Assoc. of North America. “The report offered suggestions on increasing plant-based foods and includes soy among the sources of plant protein throughout the document,” she says. Along with other sources of plant-based protein—such as pulses, nuts, and seeds—soy protein stands out as an ingredient with a great deal to gain from consumer trends moving toward meat-reduced and meat-free diets.

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