The world must undergo a shift towards sustainable food systems if it is to meet its global climate change mitigation goals. Healthy and sustainable development is the government's new goal in the twenty-first century. The rising number of people are realizing how important it is to connect the health promotion agenda with other initiatives. Plant-based meat and dairy substitutes offer viable replacements for meals derived from animals in high- and middle-income countries and a route towards adopting a more sustainable diet.

Plant-based alternative foods (PBAF) are becoming increasingly popular due to their potential contribution to wholesome and sustainable food systems. PBAFs include meat substitutes, dairy alternatives, and other plant-based products that can replace animal-based products in the diet. The growing trend of adopting plant-based diets propels advancements in the plant-based alternatives industry. While some consumers choose to avoid meat from farmed animals or animal foods altogether, a growing number of people are replacing a share of their meat intake with plant-based substitutes that seek to approximate the texture, flavor, and nutrient profiles of farmed meat using ingredients derived from pulses, grains, oils, and other plants and fungi.

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Plant-based protein products, represented by "plant meat" are gaining more and more popularity as an alternative to animal proteins. In the present review, we aimed to update the current status of research and industrial growth of plant-based protein products, including plant-based meat, plant-based eggs, plant-based dairy products, and plant-based protein emulsion foods. Moreover, the common processing technology of plant-based protein products and its principles and emerging strategies, are given equal importance. The knowledge gap between the use of plant proteins and animal proteins is also described, such as poor functional properties, insufficient texture, low protein biomass, allergens, and off-flavors, among others. Lately, researchers have been committed to exploring novel plant protein resources and high-quality proteins with enhanced properties through the latest scientific and technological interventions, including physical, chemical, enzyme, fermentation, germination, and protein interaction technology.

What are Plant-based Foods?

The Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food Systems

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information and DBMR Analysis

Plant-based foods are derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, and are an essential part of a healthy diet for many people. Here are some examples of plant-based foods:

Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, oranges, grapes, kiwi, mangoes, and pineapples are all plant-based fruits that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes are all examples of plant-based vegetables that are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.

Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and whole wheat bread are plant-based whole grains that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and peas are plant-based legumes that are high in protein, fiber, and important nutrients such as iron and folate.

Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds are the plant-based nuts and seeds which are high in healthy fats, protein, and important minerals like magnesium and zinc.

Incorporating plant-based foods into the diet is a great way to improve overall health and reduces risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

"If everyone shifted to a plant-based diet we would reduce global land use for agriculture by 75%. This large reduction of agricultural land use would be possible thanks to a reduction in land used for grazing and a smaller need for land to grow crops"– by Hannah Ritchie

World Wide Vegan Plant-based Food and Vegan Scenario

According to different vegan societies and consulting companies, the number of people following plant-based diets is increasing tremendously. In America, vegans increased by 500%, from nearly four million in 2014 to 19.6 million in 2017. A national USA survey published in 2018 found that two-thirds of participants had reduced meat consumption in the last three years. In the UK, 21% of the population consider themselves flexitarian (vegetarian who occasionally eats food from animals) and 1 in 8 declared vegetarian or vegan. In Germany, vegetarians increased from 1% in 2005 to 7% in 2018; in Italy the meat-free population has increased by 94.4% from 2011 to 2016, and in Spain, flexitarians increased by 25% in two years. Moreover, a global survey in 2019 reported that 40% of consumers are trying to reduce their consumption of animal proteins, while 10% avoided red meat completely.

"Ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010" – Judge Robin Postle

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 states that the declaration applies to all humans irrespective of their dietary and lifestyle choice. Moreover, in European Union, the law of labeling vegan food, specifically plant-based meat has been adopted by several European countries after a judgment from European Court of Justice which held that dairy terms such as milk, yogurt, cream, cannot be used for marketing a plant-based product. In United States of America, states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, Missouri have legislations in place to prohibit the use of term "sausage", "hot dogs" or any other meat terms to describe plant-based food products. The concept of vegan food have been recognized in many parts of the world. For instance, Portugal mandates keeping at least one plant-based item in the menu of public canteens, and French Schools serve vegetarian meals at least once a week.

Indian Scenario

Although the concept of vegan food is new in India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is all set to regulate food business operators (FBOs) of vegan food. FSSAI has issued the Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022, which was come into force on 10th June 2022, to regulate all people involved in the trade of vegan foods viz. persons involved in manufacturing, selling, packaging, offering for sale, marketing, distribution or import of vegan foods.

Vegan Definition:

Vegan food includes those food particulars which doesn't involve any constituents, complements, and processing aids of beast origin. It excludes milk, milk products, fish, flesh, meat, egg, egg products, honey, honey freak products, and material of nonentity origin such as silk, colorings, chitin/ chitosan, and constituents that are clarified by using products sourced from creatures. The foods made from factory, such as nuts and seeds, legumes, soy milk, almond milk, vegetable canvases, chuck, rice are exemplifications of vegan and plant-based food.

The movement of plant-based food has been really gearing up and receiving a lot of traction. The Animal Rights Organization in India, PETA has been urging people to turn Vegan. Even the most favourite brand of India "AMUL" was recommended by PETA to produce plant-based milk product. Growing trend towards Veganism has led the food regulator to introduce the new regulation casting above responsibilities on the FBOs for the consumers' safe consumption of vegan food.

U.K. Scenario

According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of 2008-2019, data for the U.K. was found that plant-based alternative foods (PBAF) consumption trends, the Dietary data for 15,655 individuals aged 1.5 years and over were analysed to assess aggregate change in intake of PBAF and six other food groups that play a role in transformative dietary change. 

Nutrition Comparison of Food Products

New factory-grounded meat druthers similar as the insolvable ™ Burger and Beyond Burger ® are getting increasingly popular with consumers and have attracted considerable fiscal investments, media content, and exploration attention. Their success has led other food companies to produce their own performances of these products.

Meat alternatives, formulated to mimic red meat's taste and sensory experience, are marketed for their ecological and health benefits compared to red meat. While ingredients vary amongst plant-based meat products, the new generation of alternatives is formulated specifically to mimic the sensory experience and macronutrient content of meat by using plant proteins (soy, pea, potato, rice, wheat, and/or myocprotein), fats (canola, coconut, soybean, and sunflower oil), and other novel ingredients (soy leghemoglobin, red-colored vegetable extracts, and flavoring agents). Additionally, various vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in meat (zinc, iron, and B-vitamins) are increasingly added to plant-based meats.

An average ground beef of 113 grams contains 220 calories per serving, with about 60 mg of Cholesterol. In contrast, -based meat such as soy-based meat has 250 calories per serving, and pea-based meat has 260 calories per serving with 0% Cholesterol, and has much more carbohydrate and is more fortified with vitamins and minerals, than animal-based meat.

The Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food Systems

Source: Frontiers Media S.A. and DBMR Analysis

Challenges Associated With Awareness of Plant-based Foods

The Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food Systems

While these challenges exist, the plant-based food industry has made significant progress in addressing them. Ongoing research, technological advancements, and increasing consumer demand are driving innovation and improvements in plant-based product development, making them more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

What Consumers Need to Know and How Does it Affect the Consumers?

The market for plant-based foods is being driven by several important factors, such as increasing health consciousness among consumers, high health benefits of plant-based foods, growing consumer demand for plant-based foods, growing categories of plant-based foods, Increasing food consumption, environmental sustainability, improvements in online retail penetration, an increase in per capita income, and an increase in spending on plant-based foods. Additionally, the rise in e-commerce, brand expansion for -based foods, research and development activities, technological advancements, and modernization of production methods will all contribute to creating new opportunities for the plant-based foods market in upcoming years.

In the present time, the demand for veganism is paving the path for plant-based food. Plant-based diets have the potential to provide a range of health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. However, there are also challenges associated with plant-based diets, such as ensuring adequate nutrient intake and addressing the cost and cultural appeal of plant-based alternatives. Further research is needed to determine the role of plant-based alternative foods in sustainable and healthy food systems.

Why Plant-Based Food is a Sustainable Option for the Consumers

Plant-based foods are a sustainable option for consumers because they are derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, which have numerous health benefits. Incorporating these foods into one's diet also promotes sustainable environmental practices by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preventing biodiversity loss and deforestation, and cutting out the primary water requirement in conventional meat production. Additionally, plant-based meat production uses significantly less land, water, and fertilizer, produces no manure, and eliminates both eutrophication and the direct human health risks associated with massive amounts of untreated animal waste. The plant-based foods industry has been fueling market growth through innovation and variety, expanding beyond meats and milk to offer options for all occasions and all meals. Therefore, policymakers should encourage local action for sustainable and healthy food policies that promote the consumption of plant-based alternative foods to ensure wholesome and sustainable food systems.

Action Taken By Businesses to Raise Awareness

Plant-based food products have seen a significant uptake in recent years, with more and more consumers shifting towards plant-based diets for health, climate change, and animal welfare. However, plant-based food companies face several challenges that they need to overcome to meet consumer demands and grow their market share. Here are some of the challenges and opportunities for plant-based product companies:

The Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food Systems

Factors Affecting the Sustainability of Plant-based Foods

The Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food Systems

By embracing plant-based food options, consumers can actively support sustainability efforts, reduce environmental impact, and contribute to a more resilient and healthy food system for future generations.

Following Strategies to Reach Various Plant-Based Food Product Consumers

By implementing these strategies, businesses and organizations can effectively reach and engage a wide range of consumers, fostering the adoption of plant-based food products and supporting the growth of the plant-based industry.

Technology Aiding in the Efficient Development of Plant-Based Foods

Technological advancements have played a significant role in developing sustainable plant-based food products. Plant-based food companies are using technology to overcome challenges such as taste and texture, protein yield, cost, and scaling production. Here are some of the technological innovations that are helping plant-based food companies:

The provision of useful information, customization possibilities, monitoring capacities, and interaction with other digital tools are just a few ways that technology promotes the development of plant-based food products.

What Plant-Based Food Products Require?

Consumers have varying preferences and requirements when it comes to plant-based food products. Here are some types of plant-based food products that consumers often seek:

The Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food SystemsThe Contribution of Plant-Based Alternative Foods to Wholesome and Sustainable Food Systems

It's important to note that consumer preferences may vary based on cultural, dietary, and personal factors. Providing a wide range of plant-based food products that cater to diverse tastes and needs can help meet the demands of various consumers in the plant-based market.


In conclusion, plant-based alternative foods make a significant contribution to creating wholesome and sustainable food systems. Individuals can reduce their environmental impact by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and protecting biodiversity by shifting towards plant-based diets. Plant-based options also promote efficient resource use, water conservation, and reduced pollution. Additionally, these foods offer health benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Through product innovation, effective marketing, education, and collaborations, businesses can reach diverse consumers and encourage the adoption of plant-based alternatives. Embracing plant-based foods is a key step towards creating a more sustainable and resilient food system for the well-being of both people and the planet.

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