Veganuary has come and gone, a UK non-profit month-long vegan challenge that began in 2014 and is now global (people in more than 200 countries participate). Many new plant-based products were rolled out in January but what is ‘plant-based’ anyway? Consumers are confused about plant-based diets (vegan? vegetarian?); and research studies differ in their definition: vegan, vegetarian, low/no meat. Currently, there is no FDA definition of plant-based foods. Third-party seals and certifications (a topic too big to be covered here) set their own definitions, values/principles. Eating out may result in being served a plant-based burger topped with a cheese patty or mayonnaise made with eggs. Let’s look at the current plant-based landscape…
Finding plant-based at the store…
How do you find plant-based in the supermarket? It depends. A ‘plant-based’ section isn’t common in the U.S. as retailers integrate plant-based with their counterparts. Some retailers place products in the produce section. These inconsistencies between retailers lead to shopper confusion. In one study, 23% more vegan meat was sold in one retailer when placed in the meat aisle in 3 states for 12 weeks – in Denver, the increase was 13%, and 32% in Illinois and Indiana.
Product rollouts: Track the plant-based protein movement with this tracker to create a customized timeline.
- 8 fast-food plant-based options.
- Blimpie’s meatball plant-based submarine is available through April 3.
- Wienerschnitzel’s plant-based hot dogs.
- Coldstone Creamery’s permanent plant-based dessert.
Food products…more than meat alternatives:
- Vegan jerky.
- Mac ‘n cheese’s vegan makeover in Australia.
- Pasta made from plants and filled w/plant-based meats: plant-based sausage ravioli, chickpea spaghetti, cauliflower pasta, and more.
- Legacy brands that got plant-based makeovers: Barilla legume pasta, Jimmy Dean plant-based breakfast sandwiches, and Hidden Valley plant-based ranch dressing.
- Target Good & Gather plant-based line has more than 30 products including dips, spreads, creamer, salad dressing, and more.
- 2022 Girl Scout cookie lineup of vegan options: Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Lemonades, and Toast-Yay!
- Looking ahead at what plant-based products you might see include bacon made with seaweed, pumpkin seed milk, sweetened condensed oat milk, veggie burgers made with beets, and more.
- Walmart online shopping by dietary preference includes a vegan option.
- Schnucks loyalty program rewards healthy choices including fruits, veggies, and grains.
Miscellaneous: Is there a concern about contamination from plant-based meat? Two university food safety experts tell you in under 20 minutes.
Registered dietitians/experts weigh in:
- Plant-based meat alternatives – products, nutrition.
- Why plant-based meats are healthier than regular meats according to dietitians compares ground beef to a Beyond Beef burger and states that plant-based meats have less fat, more fiber and comparable calories but more sodium and processed ingredients.
- What Consumer Reports/nutritionist says about KFC’s plant-based chicken nugget: less saturated fat, but total fat and sodium comparable to their counterpart; the article notes that they are fried in the same oil as chicken and many of the sauces aren’t vegetarian/vegan.
- Chipotle plant-based chorizo: this RD notes that the calories and carbs are higher than meat, the chorizo contains fiber but the sodium content wasn’t available.
- Best plant-based meal delivery services in 7 categories.
- One RD’s picks for best vegan cookbooks.
My contribution…spicy eggless egg salad recipe…
Love egg salad? Here’s a plant-based version with a ‘kick’!
14 or 16 oz. container extra firm tofu (water drained and excess water removed – see Note below)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium Worcestershire sauce (I use this instead of soy sauce because of its very low sodium content)
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons light mayonnaise (more if you like it creamier)
- Place tofu in a large container and mash with a large fork.
- Add seasonings. Mix well.
- Add mayonnaise. Mix well.
- Refrigerate overnight. Taste and add salt the next day if needed.
**Note: If you don’t like it very spicy, try less Sriracha, taste the next day and add more as desired. Consider trying the basic recipe (tofu and mayo) with different spices/seasonings and add-ins such as hummus, roasted peppers.
**Note: To remove excess water I break off small chunks of the tofu and squeeze them between my hands instead of placing the block of tofu on paper towels, placing a paper towel on top and a can/other weight on top of that, and letting the towels absorb excess water for 30 minutes.