Vegetarian meat began to appear in Southeast Asian cuisine

Putting a pinch of chili in a pan, a few pieces of artificial pork, some basil leaves, chef Songpol made the pad kra buoy. This dish is very famous in Thailand.

Songpol claims that even though it’s a vegan dish, it still tastes exactly like salty food. It has the texture and flavor of pork. The secret of cooking this dish lies in the processing technique.

However, Songpol admits that some diners still have doubts about the value of artificial meat when replacing real meat in traditional recipes in the country that is always proud of its cuisine. “They don’t want plant-based foods to be used in Thailand food,” he said.

Đầu bếp khoe món chả lợn viên chay trong nhà hàng ở Bangkok hôm 4/9. Ảnh: AFP

Global food manufacturers are racing to capture the “vegetarian protein” market share, which could be worth up to US $ 140 billion in the next decade, when environmental and ethical concerns and health has fueled the industry boom, according to estimates by Barclay Bank.

Shares of Beyon Meat, a non-beef burger maker, soared from $ 25 to more than $ 65 on Wall Street exchanges in May, boosting the attention of investors and consumers vegetarian.

Burger King, the world-renowned burger chain, has sold “Impossible Whopper” beef-free burgers at many stores in the US. KFC also offers vegetarian chicken wings and chicken balls, while nut milk, cheese and even nut-based seafood products are growing fast.

Diane Piroon, người ăn chay trường, thử món pad kra phao trong nhà hàng ở Bangkok hôm 4/9. Ảnh: AFP

As this trend enters the US giant meat industry, vegetarian protein promoters are also eyeing new markets, including Asia, where millions of people have a diet rich in fish and meat.

Pork in particular is always present in dishes throughout Asia. Songpol’s pad kra buoy is made from an artificial brand Omnimeat. Meat made from peas, shiitake mushrooms, rice and soy beans is produced by Hong Kong-based Green Monday.

After Singapore, where the Omnimeat brand debuted at restaurants last year, Thailand, the country where the majority of people follow Buddhism, became the new testing ground in Southeast Asia for artificial pork products.

In the US, the vegetarian food industry accounts for less than 1% of the meat industry. Asia poses similar challenges, from the popularization of vegetarian meat dishes to how to appeal to buyers due to higher prices.

But a 2018 survey conducted by market research firm Mintel found that more than half of consumers in urban Thailand said they plan to cut back on meat consumption.