Flavor and texture are the top reasons people enjoy cooking with meat, and the fear of missing that is the reason fewer people follow a plant-based diet, according to a just-released consumer survey by the California Walnut Board.
The study also revealed that meat remains the focal point of plates in more than half of weekly meals. However, because of increased concern about nutrition and health, people want to add more plant-based foods to their routine. The simple solution is to create meatless meals that maintain the qualities they enjoy in meat. To do so, consumers are less interested in tofu and soy products as plant-based options and instead turn to walnuts, legumes and mushrooms.
"Just like meat, plant-based foods offer an array of textures and can be seasoned countless ways to take on a variety of flavor profiles," said Frances Largeman-Roth, registered dietitian nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author. "Consider the texture you'd like to create when selecting a meatless alternative and add the same bold flavors you enjoy in more meaty recipes to create satisfying plant-based versions of the meals you love."
According to the survey, 83 percent of Americans are open to making meatless dishes, particularly if they have a similar taste or texture to meat-centric dishes. Walnuts, mushrooms and legumes — including beans, lentils and peas — rise to the top as the three foods they're willing to try in meatless meals. Walnuts, specifically, are an appealing option for their texture (70 percent), flavor (65 percent) and nutrients (62 percent).
"Walnuts are a great option to use in plant-forward dishes because they have a wonderful crunch and mild, nutty flavor that adapts well to an assortment of recipes," said Largeman-Roth. "They also provide a range of nutrients that are important for good health. Walnuts are the only tree nut predominately comprised of polyunsaturated fats, including an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 ALA."
ALA, or a-linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid that might be able to fight heart disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Source: California Walnut Board