Brazil is Famous for It’s Meat. But vegetarianism is on the rise.

Rio de Janeiro – After whipping up large vegetarian food for a hermitage in the mountains outside Rio de Janeiro, Luiza de Maarilac Tavares finds her life entangled, and sacked herself when the epidemic closed the center Forced to.

She started cooking from home, expecting to take orders from people she knew. Instead, order him for exquisite fare: with little Instagram marketing, He had inadvertently exploited Brazil’s increasing demand for plant-based food.

Country that is World’s largest beef exporter, Has seen a dramatic shift towards plant-based diets. The number of self-proclaimed vegetarians in Brazil has almost doubled over a period of six years A survey by research firm Ibop; 30 million people, or 14 percent of Brazilians, reported being vegetarian or vegan in 2018.

Ms. Tavrej, a hare Krishna who describes cooking as a sacred act that brings her closer to God, says, “There is an innings of consciousness going on.”

But the increase in demand extends well beyond the Namaste set.

Mainstream supermarkets now stock foods made from plant-based proteins next to their meat, poultry and fish. And in the neighborhood of a ton of major capitals, eateries that focus just as much on the atmosphere as they do on the menu serve inventive, meat-free dishes for a casually hip crowd.

The change has transformed a country of 212 million people – globally renowned for the steakhouse you eat for all and increasingly under siege to the carbon footprint of your cattle ranch – for plant-based food innovation In a powerhouse.

Animal-based protein analogs have become widely available in supermarkets and restaurants for the first time in 2019 due to the increasing demand for Brazilian plant-based food start-ups. Their founders predict that within a few years consumers will not be able to tell the difference between burger patties from cows and those produced with pea protein, beet juice, and potato starch.

“We are going through a revolution,” Bruno Fonseca, co-founder of New Butcher, is one of several new Brazilian companies making replicas of plant-based proteins, including burger-based chicken, chicken breast substitutes and fake salmon Huh. .

Experts say the move away from animal-based protein is primarily driven by health concerns. obesity, diabetes And heart disease Brazil grew in recent years as people adopted more sedentary lifestyles and Junk food became increasingly cheaper and accessible.

Deforestation, most of which is driven by the meat industry, and an increasingly visible animal rights movement, are secondary factors for reducing or phasing out animal products from Brazilians from their diets.

A few years ago, it was unimaginable for the vast majority of Brazilians to give up meat. Feijoada, the national dish, is a stew made with beans and pork. The Weekend Outdoor Cookout in which families and friends gather for hours for a generous spread of steak, chicken, and sausage is an iconic ritual around the country.

“Eating is the most cultural thing that exists,” said Gustavo Gudagnini, managing director of the Good Food Institute Brazil. “It’s about the area where you’re from family cuisine.”

Until sometime ago, Mr. Guadagnini said that the suggestion that Brazilians stop eating meat means that they leave a core part of their identity.

“We are now offering the same food that people use to eat, but in a way that relies on new technologies,” he said. “They can make choices without much difficulty.”

Proponents of vegetarian and vegan diets in Brazil have urged people to start with small changes, such as carnivorous Mondays.

Sandra Lopez, managing director of Mercy for Animals, oversees a team that outlines the investigation Abusive behavior in food fields. But in addition to those traditional name and shame tactics, Mercy for Animals has found considerable success in school districts and companies that are interested in reducing the amount of animal meat.

Several public schools across the country have agreed to reduce animal-based protein by 20 percent, usually completely eliminating it one day per week, Ms. Lopez said. It inspires children to make choices from an early age and gives local authorities the satisfaction of supporting an area of ​​the food industry that is constantly working.

“We are not making a radical request,” Ms. Lopez said. “And children are being liked to eat.”

Groups such as Mercy for Animals, which opened a Brazilian office in 2015, have found powerful allies in some of the country’s biggest celebrities.

Anitta, one of Brazil’s top recording artists, She says Concern for environmental impact significantly reduced her meat consumption.

Felipe Neto, A video blogger and entrepreneur With more than 40 million subscribers on YouTube, it announced last year that it was becoming vegetarian as Brazil sparked global outrage over the unusually devastating fire season at Amazon.

“You know that when you are doing something wrong, you know that it was wrong, and it results in your conscience.” He said that last year, Explaining his decision.

The most militant vegan celebrity television host in Brazil Xuxa Menegal, Whose daydream diversity was a sensation in Latin America in the 1990s. Ms. Menegal, 57, credits her vegetarian diet with increasing her energy level and her libido. But she said documentaries like “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health” convinced her that eating animals was not only unhealthy, but also unconscious.

“I would urge people that it is a custom to celebrate a birthday and to collect an animal with dead animals on a plate,” he said in the email. “I would really like to see people reduce the consumption of cadavers.”

Companies that rely on Brazil’s love of meat have noticed changes in ideas and hunger and have started elbowing in an increasingly crowded plant-based market.

Outback Steakhouse, one of the most popular chain restaurants in Brazil, Launched a burger earlier this year Made with broccoli and cauliflower.

Brazil-based JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company, has been engulfed in flames For his role in illegal deforestation At Amazon, last year launched a line of plant-based products that have the same texture and flavor as meat.

The company says that expanding the region is the only way to continuously feed humans in the coming decades.

“In 2050 there will be around 10 billion people in the world, so the demand for food will increase and it will be necessary to offer alternatives,” the company said in an email statement. “JBS’s plant-based protein strategy seeks to provide consumers with new options, whether they are vegetarian, vegan, or flexarian.”

Marcos Leta, founder of Fazenda Futuro, who became Brazil’s first major start-up to sell plant-based meat-like products in grocery stores in 2019, studied the country’s meat industry supply chain and its export model Is and believes Brazil. Ability to become a major plant-based food exporter.

Mr. Leta likes that his products are displayed in supermarkets with frozen chicken breast and ribs. He says that this is a case for him and his rivals ahead of mass production that makes their products competitive with cheap meat and chicken.

“My competition is the butchers,” Mr. Leta said, adding that he mainly eats meat these days as part of research and development efforts to bring the taste and texture of his food closer to the original. “The company’s mission is to make meatpacking plants obsolete at some point in the future.”

Mr. Leta said that his company was progressing towards that goal. He recently began exporting his products, including imitation of meatballs, ground beef and sausages for Holland. He has signed deals for distribution in several countries in the United Kingdom, Germany and Latin America.

Ms. Tavarus, 61, who has been working long enough to churn out some 400 meals a week with the help of cooks at the Hare Krishna temple in Rio de Janeiro, where she worships, with her eyes on the mention of these new companies She rotates. Imitation of meat.

But she believes that they can take many steps toward discovering the richness and joy found in cooking and eating food and tastes that look like plants.

“When you become a vegetarian, it’s like a key,” he said. “You start looking at things differently.”

Lis Moriconi contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

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