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What is Plant-Based Food?

You have probably heard the term "plant-based food" (PBF) before or seen plant-based food products.
PBF refers to plant-based foods made from plant-based materials such as soybeans, peas, chickpeas, or wheat that recreate the flavor and texture of animal products (meat products such as hamburger patties and nuggets, dairy products such as cheese, butter, and yogurt, and seafood products such as tuna).

Global food trend "Plant-Based Food"

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The PBF trend is currently sweeping across the world. From start-ups to multinational conglomerates, the development, commercialization, and distribution of PBF is expanding around the world, especially in Europe and the United States.

It is no exaggeration to say that the year 2020 was the "Year of PBF", and this trend is accelerating and continues to grow in 2021. The advent of PBF is being called a turning point in dietary lifestyles.

The market for PBF is rapidly expanding as fast food chains, supermarkets, and restaurants begin to sell the product in a range of forms, from ingredients to finished products.

Background to the PBF Trend

Why is the trend towards PBF happening now?
With the example of soybeans - one such plant-based protein source - here we will take a look at the background.

1 Environmentally-friendly food products

The world is experiencing an increasing number of extremely harsh typhoons, heavy rains, droughts, and other problems caused by climate change as the result of global warming.

Compared to beef, soybeans emit only 1/85th of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming and consume only 1/8th of the amount of water during production.

Soybeans are an eco-friendly ingredient that can be grown with little environmental impact and only a small amount of fertilizer and water.

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2 The key to solving the shortage of protein caused by population growth

The world's total population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and it is believed that there will be insufficient sources of protein to support this population.

Simply increasing the production of animal meat poses a challenge from a sustainability perspective.

Therefore, PBF is attracting attention as a solution as it uses more resource-efficient plant-based raw materials.

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3 Increased focus on health throughout the world

On a worldwide scale, we face the problem of an increase in the lifestyle-related diseases that accompany economic development. In addition, people have an increased awareness of immunity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has led to a worldwide increase in a greater focus on the health aspects of food.

Soybeans are one of the most protein-rich legumes, and are also rich in dietary fiber, minerals and other nutrients. They are also cholesterol-free, and this makes them a true superfood. Soybean meat - a PBF made from soybeans - is low in calories and fat, yet boasts a protein content comparable to beef, pork, and chicken.

Research has also indicated that soy protein has a range of positive impacts on health, including lowering blood cholesterol, preventing obesity, and reducing the risk of heart disease.

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Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology "Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan 2015 (Revision 7) Addendum"

  • * For soy meat, the value is calculated based on the value of textured soy protein soaked in three times the volume of water.
  • * Nutritional values for pre-cooked ingredients (compared with cuts of pork used for sweet-and-sour pork, cuts of chicken used for fried chicken, and cuts of beef is used for a Japanese beef bowl)