The mock meat market is booming right now here in Australia and the demand for meat substitutes is at an all-time high. You can buy almost anything including mock prawns, mock fish, and mock chicken and mock beef burgers. It seems that the mock meat market in Australia isn’t slowing down any time soon.
The statistics don’t lie
Not long ago, Euromonitor International predicted that “Australia’s packaged vegan food market will be worth $215 million”. In addition, Euromonitor revealed that Australia is the third fastest growing vegan market in the world after the United Arab Emirates and China. Furthermore, the number of vegan food products launched between 2014 and 2016 increased by 92%.
If you look at Beyond Meat as a case study, you will get a snapshot of the demand in 2020. The plant-based meat company’s current earnings beat expectations: $97 million compared to Wall Street estimates of $88.2 million. Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown said in an interview that “this is the industry’s moment.”
So, where did mock meat originate from?
Mock meats originate from China during the Han dynasty from 206 BC to 220 AD when soy tofu was introduced to traditional Chinese cooking.
Before Buddhism arrived in China, the culture was predominantly a meat-eating one. In contrast, a traditional Buddhist diet abstains from eating meat and requires –at a minimum – vegetarian options. Once Buddhism arrived into China, the demand for these substitutes increased and this is the same for other countries throughout the world where Buddhism is observed.
What is mock meat made from?
The most common core ingredients used to make mock meats are wheat, soy and mushroom. Other ingredients include rice, sweet potato, legumes, tempeh as well as tofu. Flavourings are then added to create a meat-like taste and texture without harming and killing animals in the process.
Seitan is a mock meat made from wheat gluten that has enjoyed a strong following since its inception in China in the 6th Century. It was originally used as an ingredient for Chinese noodles, and later spread in popularity across Japan and South-East Asia. Seitan is also used to create mock meats such as duck and chicken. Across the world’s Western countries, seitan is enjoyed roasted or in a schnitzel style mock meat form as well.
Jackfruit is another interesting mock meat ingredient because its texture resembles pulled pork. Jackfruit is grown and harvested in tropical regions around the world, so it’s a popular mock meat ingredient used in cooking in South-East Asian countries including Indonesia. This ‘king of fruits’ is known for its prickly exterior and stinky interior so don’t be surprised if you can’t travel on public transport in Indonesia with one in your shopping bag!
Many people love the taste of jackfruit, while others despise it. So, this is when a good amount of flavouring is added to shape the desired taste. Dishes like pulled jackfruit burgers have become popular in recent years among vegans.
What about seaweed?
Seaweed has been used in cooking for generations because it contains high levels of omega-3s, iodine, Vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium. These vitamins are vital in any diet, particularly in a vegan diet so it’s no wonder that mock meats contain seaweed. Seaweed also provides food with a fishy flavour; the perfect ingredient to manufacture seafood-like mock meat options.
Okara, a by-product of soy milk, is used to make mock fish and seaweed is then used to wrap around the mock meat for added flavour. Similarly, vegan burgers and bacon have been created just by using seaweed as the primary ingredient.
Earlier this week, the Australian Seaweed Institute revealed that “the current global market for seaweed products such as food…is estimated at over US$11 billion and is expected to double in value by 2025”. So, what does this mean for Australia? It means that the seaweed industry in Australia is an emerging one that can gain traction quite quickly, especially if you take into consideration the country’s fast-growing vegan market.
The future is set for vegan mock meat
As more people opt for vegan options, the demand for mock meats will naturally rise. Mock meats provide a meat substitute and will be a prominent product in supermarkets as animal agriculture decreases. Mock meat rocks because it provides a quality, substitute option for those who want to switch their meat for a kinder, healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternative.