Tara Haddad, CEO of Modern Meat, Shares How Plant-Based Foods Have Entered the Mainstream Over the Past 20 Years

Since the early 2000s, plant-based foods have become one of the mainstays of many people’s daily diet. Public perceptions of vegetarianism and veganism are improving. Many people are beginning to realize the importance of lowering animal meat in their diets for environmental and health reasons.

Tara Haddad, the Vancouver, BC-based CEO of Modern Meat, shares how plant-based products have become mainstream over the past 20 years, examining the growth of the industry and the reasons why more consumers are turning to plant-based alternatives.

Growth of the Plant-Based Food Industry

In 2020, Tara Haddad reports that the market for plant-based alternatives reached 7 billion. This represents 27 percent growth since 2019.

Along with meat alternatives, cheeses, and other products, plant-based milk has also become extremely popular among vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike. It is estimated that 40 percent of all households have plant-based milk like almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk stocked in their refrigerators.

Fully 34 percent of households purchased plant-based meat in 2020, a 4 percent gain since 2019. Sixty-three percent of shoppers bought these products frequently. While there were significant gains in the frozen section, the refrigerated section also experienced growth in the amount of plant-based meat sold, with a 30 percent year-to-year rise since 2019.

History of Plant-Based Meat

Plant-based meat alternatives began to appear on the market in the 1970s. In the early years of plant-based meat, most products were made with tofu and other soy derivatives. They were positioned as healthy alternatives to animal meats, and they were often tasteless compared to conventional products. As a result, it was difficult to imagine that the average grocery consumer would start eating tofu “hot dogs,” for example, rather than the animal meat version.

In the early 1990s, frozen veggie burgers became popular. Even though they were packed with nutritious vegetables and grains, these products were turned down by most meat-eaters.

Later in the 2000s, several brands began producing frozen items based on soy and other proteins and intended to mimic the texture and flavor of animal meats. Some brands were quite successful, especially when approximating microwaved frozen chicken.

The rise of today’s plant-based meat brands like Modern Meat began in the 2010s. Plant-based meat manufacturers began to turn their attention toward products that would mimic the experience of eating meat. For example, Modern Meat created burger patties using pea proteins and other vegetables that would brown nicely when cooked. When cut into, these products would release red juices, similar to animal meats.

These products began to take off in the grocery market as a whole in the late 2010s. There are several quality brands on the market producing convincing burgers and other meat alternatives.

Reasons Why People Are Buying More Plant-Based Foods

The benefits of a plant-based diet have become well-known over the past 20 years. Vegetarians and vegans have a 22 percent lower chance of developing heart disease. They also have a lower BMI, leading to less chance of disorders connected with obesity, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

The perception that people who regularly eat a largely plant-based diet do not get enough protein is gradually lessening, especially since plant-based meat substitutes like those produced by Modern Meat have been popularized.

In addition to health benefits, plant-based foods also carry significant environmental advantages. Growing crops uses much less water than raising animals, and there is less agricultural runoff and pollution associated with fruit and vegetable farming.

Ways to Switch to a Plant-Based Diet

It can be easy to reduce the amount of meat you eat when replacing animal proteins with their plant-based counterparts at least a few times a week. Even a small reduction in the amount of fatty red meat you eat can lead to positive health outcomes.

Maintaining a balanced diet is one of the keys to health and wellness. You will need to track your protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients at first to make sure that you are getting everything your body needs. Fortunately, many plant-based foods are excellent protein, calcium, and vitamin C sources, among other necessary nutrients.

It is essential to complement plant-based meat substitutes with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains, and a minimum amount of sugar and saturated fat. Healthy plant-based fats like avocado and olive oil should replace saturated fats in your diet.

Normalizing Plant-Based Diets

Companies like Modern Plant Based Foods have made it easy for “flexitarians” and others who regularly compliment their meat dishes with plant-based alternatives as well as traditional vegetarians and vegans. These high-quality products have become part of the grocery mainstream, with an especially high adoption rate among the younger generations.

Tara Haddad understands that it can be daunting to switch to plant-based foods, but her company makes it as easy as possible to protect your health and the environment.

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Modern Plant Based Foods is a Canadian food company that offers a portfolio of plant-based products including meat and dairy-free alternatives, soups and snack foods.

We take a holistic approach to plant-based living and understand the importance of providing nutritious and sustainable alternatives to consumers without sacrificing taste. We want people to feel good about the food they eat which is why we are deliberate in choosing ingredients free of SOY, GLUTEN, NUTS and GMO’s.

Currently located in Vancouver, BC | Tara Haddad is the CEO of Modern Meat | www.tarahaddad.com