India is well-known for having a large vegetarian population, and many Indians are now turning to veganism due to health concerns. As plant-based eating grows, companies like Evolved Foods and Nutiva are working to meet rising demand.
A survey in 2019 found that 63% of Indians were willing to replace meat with plant-based options. That’s a big market in a country of over a billion people.
While vegetarianism is well-established in the country, dairy plays a heavy role in the traditional Indian diet. Until recently, vegan options were relatively hard to come by.
But that’s beginning to change. For example, Evolved Foods has introduced vegan alternatives under its Alt Meat and Alt Protein brands, seeking to replace chicken and paneer (an Indian soft cheese). And Dutch company Schouten recently brought its tempeh production system to India.
Meanwhile, Nutiva has launched vegan ghee (clarified butter), while Epigamia and Axia Food have both introduced vegan yogurts. Indian liquid egg replacer company EVO Foods is also experiencing increasing success. And there’s growing demand for pre-prepared foods, with vegan ready meal sales soaring.
There are advances in cultured meat too, with Indian company Clear Meat developing lab-grown chicken mince that it claims is as affordable as the conventional variety. Back in 2019, the Indian government began subsidising clean meat research, and studies suggest Indian consumers are more open to it than Westerners.
“Indian businesses and scientists have immense potential to be at the centre of this development [towards plant-based foods], driving affordability and sensory experiences as well as cultural appeal in transformative plant-based foods,” said Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at GFI India.