Veg portions could replace animal products

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

LONDON - Our limited farmland resources won’t be able to keep pace with the growing global demand for meat products - which is likely to double by 2050. Accordingly, plant parts can be expected to act as a substitute for raw materials derived from animals.

Peter Eisner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging in Germany has presented a milk substitute made from lupin proteins and suitable as a basis for foods such as ice cream or cheese.

It contains no lactose, has a neutral flavour, is cholesterol-free and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, according to a Fraunhofer Institute statement.

Lupin seeds are also the basic ingredient in a new vegetable protein isolate with fat-like properties that has been developed by Fraunhofer researcher Daniela Sussmann.

It takes a lot of land to produce meat. Producing a kilogram of meat consumes between seven and 16 kilograms of grain or soybeans as animal feed, Eisner reports.

As a result, around 80 percent of grain is fed to livestock in the US, Eisner said.

Compared to meat production, the cultivation of plants as a food source is considerably less land-intensive.

It takes 40 square metres to produce a kg of meat, yet that same space could produce 120 kg of carrots or 80 kg of apples instead.

Plants are a source of high-quality foodstuff, but they can also provide raw materials for technological applications - and are a source of energy, said Eisner.

Eisner demonstrates this in the case of sunflower seeds: “Up until now, they were used for oil production, their residues serving as low-grade livestock feed.”

A special production method applied to the lupin seed yields a highly viscous protein suspension with a very creamy consistency.

The microscopic structure of this product resembles that of the fat particles in sausage meat. So you can use it to produce low-fat sausage products that taste just as good as the original, Eisner added.

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