No more meat products?

Maybe it was that video of how baby chickens are harvested. Maybe it was that TED talk by Mark Bittman that garnered more than 4 million views about our food choices and their contribution to the carbon footprint. Or maybe it was one of the many Facebook posts that vegan friend made that finally struck a chord.

As the questionable practices of factory farms become common knowledge and awareness of the negative impact of meat on the environment increases, plant-based and “clean meat” diets are gradually becoming more popular.

From plant-based alternatives to dairy products like milk, cheese and butter to meat “substitutes” like Quorn to lab-grown meat (that aims to taste just like the real thing!) by startups like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Mosa Meat, substitutes for meat products are fast filling Singaporean supermarket shelves.

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In fact, the traditional meat industry has perceived the rise in the plant-based and clean meat industries as threatening enough that they have lobbied for a ban on the use of the term ‘meat’ to describe food products that are not made from animal flesh. In August earlier this year, a law was passed in Missouri, United States, to that effect.

What a plant-based diet cannot provide

The many health benefits of having a plant-based diet aside, an open secret of going fully plant-based is that there are some nutrients you’re going to lack. It is not uncommon for plant-based eaters to miss out on key micronutrients such as vitamin B12, iron and zinc because of the way the body absorbs these nutrients from plant sources or are almost virtually non-existent in said sources, as is the case for vitamin B12.

While calorie-tracking apps are abound (see MyFitnessPal, Lose It! and MyPlate Calorie Tracker for some of the more popular ones), none of the most popular ones provide micronutrient tracking services.

Lime near baked potatoes and pasta Free Photo
Are you taking micronutrients into account too when you prepare your meals? Photo: Freepik

Despite there already being multiple apps that focus on macronutrient profiles, more of such apps pop up in the market everyday. Some focus on simplifying the recording process by allowing users to scan barcodes, others aim to provide information about food products that are found outside the global West (think chicken rice in Singapore).

When it comes to micronutrients, less polished apps like Cronometer and Wholesome are getting it right by providing users with more information on the subject as well as telling users how much they should be consuming based on their body weight. Unfortunately, these apps are relatively obscure due to their lack of outreach and ongoing technical issues.

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Filling the market gap with a slice of the plant-based pie

The increasing popularity of primarily plant-based and strictly vegan diets suggests that micronutrient profiling will experience an increase in demand over time. Including this is likely to help your app stand out from the crowd.

Including the option to customise one’s profile to that of a vegetarian or vegan, then having the app automatically calculate the amount of micronutrients necessary would also be a function that is well-received.

Filling this market gap will help you earn a slice of the increasingly large plant-based pie and the human herbivores will be forever grateful.