The popularity of wheat-based meat replacements is driving the wheat protein market through the roof—to what is expected to be a whopping $2.15 billion dollar industry by 2025. Grand View Research, which authored the study, contributed the ballooning growth to rising health concerns, demand for high nutritional value and protein in health foods, and the popularity of products that may contribute to weight loss.
The gluten-free trend of a few years ago has become a gluten craze today, as demand for meat alternatives continues to rise. The most popular of these replacements achieve meat-like textures with seitan, a wheat-based protein many vegans and vegetarians use to round out their nutrition. The meat-alternatives market alone is expected to reach $5.2 billion by 2020, according to a separate report by Allied Market Research.
Wheat gluten was the largest market category in 2015, but will likely be nudged out of the lead by wheat protein isolate in the coming years, according to authors of the study.
Wheat protein isolate is a common ingredient in fake meats, sports shakes and supplements. It contains a high protein count and low levels of fat and carbohydrates, making the compound a great supplement that has higher levels of glutamine than dairy-based whey or casein. People looking to control their cholesterol levels or take a holistic approach to cardiovascular disease can be helped along by products containing wheat protein isolate such as meat-free meats and supplements.
With the health and environmental benefits of a vegan diet becoming more well-known, companies have jumped on the bandwagon by making the switch from meat and dairy easier than ever for consumers. Fake-meat heavyweights like Gardein, Tofurky and Simply Balanced have made the meatless game mainstream and also nutritious, with products that feature organic and vegetable-based ingredients such as wheat protein isolate.
If you’re new to the “fake meat” game, there are some easy ways to pepper these products into your meals. Try substituting vegan deli “meats” for what you’re used to, using faux “ground beef” for your next taco night, or adding vegan “sausage” patties to your next breakfast scramble. Making simple swaps like these can reduce your overall intake of saturated fat while adding beneficial fiber and vitamins. As an added bonus, the ingredients in these substitutes require less water and space than their animal counterparts to grow and be healthy.
No word yet on how this news stacks up between GMO and non-GMO wheat, but consumer demand for healthier food appears to be a step in the right direction for nutrition, animals and the environment.