In a small village, I hail from Dehradun where words and phrases like “alternative protein” or “vegan cheese” were strange concepts a decade ago. The same was true in most regions of India. Fast forward to the day, and I’m sitting in a quaint little cafe serving vegan pizza, tofu butter masala and coconut milk cappuccino. There has been a distinct change not only in the scale of food choices in my community but throughout India’s (almost) $30 billion food industry as well.
So, what’s the deal with this sweeping trend taking India’s food industry, food technology startups, and investors by storm? And what does this have to do with World Food Day, which is celebrated on October 16 every year to commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its mission to combat hunger and food security?
The simple answer is that it is a shift in public attitudes and values that have been strongly influenced by consumer behavior and conscious eating habits. Consumers now more than ever want to eat healthy food – for themselves and the planet. Reports suggest that there is a growing curiosity about alternative proteins and plant-based diets — and a greater desire to try them, especially after the pandemic. The HoReCa (hotels, restaurants and cafes) industry has moved quickly to take advantage of this lucrative trend and meet the demand.
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From launching all-vegetarian menus to introducing vegetarian alternatives in traditional dishes – cafes and restaurants in Tier 1 and 2 cities like Delhi, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Bangalore are bringing sustainability to the table. Recognizing the positive public health and animal welfare benefits of this transformation, Humane Society International / India is supporting food companies and culinary establishments with our culinary training, recipe development advice, and educational outreach. In 2020, Cafe A Maya in Dehradun committed to replacing 30% of its meat, dairy and eggs menu items with delicious vegetarian dishes by 2022. Recently, the Salvus Hotel Group in Rishikesh committed to replacing 30% of its animal-based dishes with vegan alternatives in an effort to reduce Cruelty to animals. Other cafes in Dehradun that have also joined the global movement towards serving more vegetarian dishes are 3 Pine Cafe, Dreamhouse Cafe and 70 Percent Cafe.
I feel lucky to have been able to see and savor the change, in menus and perspective, in my hometown. Mock meat keema pao, tofu borji, tofu masala butter, vegan tacos, coconut milk latte, coconut cappuccino, and more delicious offerings are now available at a range of cafes and restaurants in Dehradun. As more restaurants and cafes add vegan offerings to their menus across the country, more and more Indians and others will have more opportunities to try this new generation of vegan foods that are cruelty-free, delicious, nutritious, and highly appealing in terms of health or interest. environmental or animal sympathy.
A report on Plant-Based Food is the Future is the latest market report that forecasts the plant-based industry in India to reach $450 million in the next five years. In addition to the early adopters of the restaurant sector, hospitality schools and culinary institutes are also laying the groundwork for this burgeoning market transformation. The Institute of Hotel Management, University of Chandigarh has organized recipe competitions on the basis of the plan and the Ambala Institute of Hotel Management has added vegetarian cooking classes to its curriculum and is committed to organizing regular vegetarian culinary training programs for its students.
World Food Day celebrates collective action directed towards improving food security and the well-being of billions of people around the world. India’s plant-based transformation bears all the signs of good teamwork, based on public demand, consumer preference and market power in promoting and supporting positive trends in food production and consumption, trends that are beneficial to people and animals for the environment and global food security, and trends that we can and must celebrate every day.
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