Ahead of Protein Day in India on 27 February, the Right To Protein Initiative recently announced the theme for this year’s celebration as powering with plant protein. This year’s theme shines the spotlight on plant-based sources of protein and will encourage citizens at large to learn and know more about different types of sources available and their importance in daily meals for better nutrition and health. This year marks the second year for this nutritional awareness milestone in India by ‘Right to Protein’, as the initiative invites citizens, organizations and experts to join the movement.
Today, India has a sizeable population of flexitarians – those who prefer a vegetarian diet while still enjoying meat in moderation. This is where plant-based protein could prove to be instrumental in meeting daily protein requirements. According to India Protein Paradox, a nationwide study conducted by Right To Protein in 2020, even with a variety of plant protein whole foods, nearly 76% Indian food purchase decision makers incorrectly believe that vegetarians have limited options of protein-rich food compared to non-vegetarians. This underscores Right To Protein’s decision to funnel the focus to plant protein for Protein Day this year.
“Although it is frequently asserted that plants provide ample nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it is also a common misconception that plant-protein is nutritionally inferior to animal protein. This warrants immediate correction and education,” said Dr Jagmeet Madan, Nutrition expert, professor, principal, Sir VithaldasThackersey College of Home Science (Autonomous) SNDTWU, Mumbai and national president, Indian Dietetic Association, Supporter of the Right To Protein Initiative.
The India Protein Paradox Study also points out that over 81% of mothers incorrectly believe that the basic diet consisting of just roti, dal and rice is enough for daily protein needs. As a result, pulses remain the primary source of protein in majority Indian households.
“The Indian plate isn’t just about palette – it’s about culture, community and so much more. Versatile, functional plant proteins can find acceptance and preference in any household,” says Varun Deshpande, managing director of Good Food Institute India (GFI India). “Food providers have a massive opportunity with plant protein to meet consumers’ demand for variety and fill nutrition gaps, while manufacturers can develop products tailored to local cuisines and appetites, so that sustainable, affordable, delicious protein foods find their way to our plates,” he added.
The key objective through the day’s activities and beyond will be to educate consumers that when it comes to making protein consumption related choices, it is the quality and quantity of protein that matters – and the knowledge of the right sources of the macronutrient is vital to making that choice.
“It is also important to consider that Indians are largely economic non-vegetarians – a plant-based diet suits most on a daily basis – which is why plant protein may also bridge the nutrition and affordability gap. In order to trigger tangible change at a national level, mass awareness around protein sufficiency, and the role of plant protein sources in this endeavor, is a good place to begin,” added Dr Suresh Itapu, nutraceutical expert, director – NutriTech India, human nutrition consultant – USSEC and supporter of the Right To Protein initiative.
In 2020, Right To Protein launched India’s first Protein Day to draw public attention, raise awareness, and educate Indians on the significance and importance of consuming proteins in their everyday diets. Several like-minded citizens, organizations, nutritionists, food industry experts, and brands joined the movement last year to raise awareness on protein sufficiency in the country.
Right To Protein is an awareness initiative to educate citizens about the importance of adequate protein consumption for better nutrition, health and wellbeing. #RightToProtein initiative aspires to build knowledge of different types of protein sources amongst Indians, especially plant protein, to meet larger nutritional goals. Right To Protein aims to develop an ecosystem of professionals to drive protein awareness and debunk myths and misconceptions about protein as a critical macro-nutrient for human health and of many protein foods sources. The ecosystem will aim to improve production and consumption quality and consistency of both, plant and animal proteins. Right To Protein is supported by several like-minded Indian and global individuals, academicians, professionals and institutions. The initiative is open for who would like to join and/or contribute in any capacity, including providing knowledge, technical support or as promotion partners.