Vegan meat: popular, but expensive indulgence

City Health

Vegan enthusiasts say vegan meat helps in balancing their nutrition intake,  but feels like a luxury to consume it every day.

Bengaluru: Sudharni comes from a family that likes non-vegetarian food, and she used to indulge in meat three to four times a week. After turning to veganism in 2011, she had a hard time finding alternatives for meat and chicken, since she was habituated to eating non-vegetarian food regularly for almost 20 years.. Vegan meat turned out to be a saviour for her, she said.

Sudharni said that although vegan meat is no different in taste and texture to her, she buys it occasionally. “I do buy and eat it, but not as frequently as when I used to eat chicken before, since it is expensive ,” she said. Vegan meat is prepared using ingredients like soya, tofu, peas, and jackfruit to mimic the taste, texture and flavour of meat obtained from animals.

The sales of vegan meat have increased by about 13 percent in India, as market size recorded in 2023 was about $ 78.6 million, according to the report by the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group (IMARC). Another report by Blue Wave consulting shows that the plant-based meat market in India had a market size of $38.2 million in 2021, and $59.1 million in 2022.

Restaurants offer dishes like pizza and steak where they replace meat with plant-based alternatives.

Neha, manager of Vegan Vogue restaurant, Indiranagar, said that customers at their restaurant like to indulge in vegan steak options often. “We use alternatives like soybean and tofu to put in place of chicken or meat in recipes that require meat usually, like steaks for example. People like to order that, and the sale of it is good,” she said.

On the contrary, Uttam, chef at Vegan Heat, said that people used to buy more options from them before but now stick to Tempeh only. “Getting it sourced was becoming expensive, we are already in loss, so we have removed dishes that require vegan chicken or meat.” Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, which they use for making steaks. .

Jeganraj Jeyaprakash, a part-time athlete who turned to veganism in 2021, requires a lot of protein in his diet. “Although vegan meat is a good alternative for making my diet balanced without eating eggs or chicken, I consider it a luxury food item to indulge in once in a while,” he said.

Dr. Ritika Jain, dietician and nutritionist said that vegan meat is a good option to fulfil the requirement of chicken and meat for people who cannot eat it, or have switched to veganism. “It is also good for the vegetarian population. The nutritional value is almost similar to the real meat when it is made, and the only difference is in calories and prices,” she said. 

Vegan enthusiasts say that indulging in vegan meat dishes feels like luxury.

The price of vegan chicken sausage or chunks online cost around Rs. 187 for 180 grams, while the usual chicken sausage costs Rs. 97 for the same weight and brand.

Gaurav Pare, market analyst said that vegan meat is still looked as a form of elite food item, because of the positioning of vegan food products in the market. “Vegan meat is made from soy, tofu and vegetables like jackfruit and peas. But, veganism is itself considered an elite thing, although it is not that hard to be one, especially if you are a vegetarian already. If vegan meat is demanded more, it will be supplied more by manufacturers, and therefore the prices wouldn’t be a problem anymore,” he said.

The market of vegan meat is expected to grow by Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.4 percent during the period of 2024-2032, according to the IMARC report.