Plant-based meats are quickly becoming a global phenomenon. In Japan, the retailer Muji just announced it is releasing four plant-based meat alternatives made from soy beans to give customers a healthier, more sustainable option to traditional meats.
The new lineup includes a burger, meatballs that come in a sauce, minced meat, and thinly sliced meat that you can add to a recipe. All the formats are designed to be as easy to use as possible: They don’t require refrigeration and don’t need to be rehydrated. They cost $2.75 per pack and are available online and at brick-and-mortar stores in Japan starting this month. Muji has yet to announce whether these products will be available in other markets.
Around the world, there’s a growing awareness that meat is a major contributor to climate change. Last year, the United Nations commissioned a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which made the case that shifting to a largely plant-based diet, with a moderate amount of sustainably produced animal-sourced food, presents a major opportunity to mitigate climate change, while also helping to improve human health. These dietary changes have the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by up to 8 billion tonnes a year by 2050.
On its Japanese website, Muji details the environmental reasons consumers should consider making the switch away from meat, pointing out that as the global population rises to 10 billion by 2050, meat demand will nearly double, resulting in even more environmental destruction. Meanwhile, soy is a good meat alternative, since it has more protein per gram than chicken, pork, or beef.
While consumers in the United States tend to associate Muji with minimalist home goods and stationery, the company sells a broader range of products in the Japanese market, including canned foods, cakes, pastries, and instant meals.