Indian Professor Wins UNDP Accelerator Lab Contest For Creating Plant-Based Egg Made From Lentils

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Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) Professor Kavya Dashora of Centre for Rural Development and Technology recently won the first prize for developing a plant-based egg alternative made from lentils that has the same cooking process as real eggs. Conducted by UNDP Accelerator Lab India, the Innovate4SDG contest presented a cash reward of INR 3.7 Lakhs (USD$5,000) to the scientist.

In tandem with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which includes ‘good health and well-being’ as well as ‘zero hunger’, the UNDP recognized the creation of the plant-based egg as a vital component in the accomplishment of these goals.

Explaining why it conferred the award on this research, the UNDP said in a statement:, “The development of the mock egg meets the protein needs of the diet-specific, health-conscious, vegan and vegetarian people.” The news was first reported by Vegan First.

The plant-based textured foods that resemble egg, fish, and chicken have been developed with an aim to address the longstanding battle for malnutrition and clean protein food for people

IIT-D Professor Kavya Dashora

Created using protein isolation technology, the plant-based egg is made out of moong (split green gram) and is available in the form of a syrup. Professor Dashora created this alternative to provide clean food with protein and with UNDP recognising this, it will encourage more plant-based innovations and alternative proteins to develop in the Indian market. 

Professor Kavya Dashora (Source: TEQIP & CEP)

In an interview with NDTV, Professor Dashora discussed her reasons behind developing the plant-based mock egg. “The plant-based textured foods that resemble egg, fish and chicken have been developed with an aim to address the longstanding battle for malnutrition and clean protein food for people. The mock egg has been developed from very simple farm-based crop proteins, which not only looks and tastes like egg but also very close in nutritional profile to a poultry egg.”

According to IIT-D, Prof Dashora’s research team includes Anshu Yadav, Kamakshi Nawani and Vinayak D Fasake and apart from the plant-based egg, Professor Dashora has also worked to develop alternative proteins like plant-based mock chicken and mock fish. She also plans to launch plant-based sausages, beef, mutton and turkey shortly. Apart from the texture being similar to animal meat, her creations are also similar in taste and nutritional values. 

This mock meat will cost similar to non-veg alternatives. It will be a cleaner source of protein; the egg, for instance, has zero cholesterol and is gluten-free. There is no risk of animal-based diseases, such as bird flu, and the concept prevents cruelty on animals as well.

IIT-D Professor Kavya Dashora

In another interview, Professor Dashora explained how most people who want to switch to vegetarian food find themselves stuck to meat because of its taste and protein profile. “We have taken care of both aspects, using normal farm produce. For the vegan egg, we have used protein isolation technology and for meat, we use extrusion technology.”

Plant-based egg by Prof Dashora (Source: IIT-D)

She further informed, “This mock meat will cost similar to non-veg alternatives. It will be a cleaner source of protein; the egg, for instance, has zero cholesterol and is gluten-free. There is no risk of animal-based diseases, such as bird flu, and the concept prevents cruelty on animals as well.”

Compared to animal-based meals that require factory farming of animals, plant-based meals require fewer resources and are a healthier and sustainable alternative in terms of food production as well. 

In a separate interview, Rahul Dewan from Four Pursuits Ventures who funded this research expressed his reasons for supporting this product. “These vegan alternatives would be a much healthier alternative to animal-based meat and eggs. As the production of these meats are based on farm produce, the team will work closely with the farmers to get the best of produce. This will further support the government’s initiative to increase the income of farmers.”

Vegan eggs are having a moment around the world, from famous pioneers like San Francisco’s Eat Just leading the vegan egg alternative category since 2017 to Evo Foods, India’s first plant-based egg startup, who recently revealed that it will be launching its first liquid egg alternative in India this year. In addition, Evo Foods plans to expand through foodservice in the U.S by April 2021 once it secures a foothold in India.

Christiane Hieronymus, Head of Economic Cooperation & Development, Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany, New Delhi conferred the award to Professor Dashora along with Professor K Vijay Raghavan, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.

To purchase products like vegan paneer and plant-based anda bhurji (scrambled eggs), consumers can explore their website at plantmade.in.


Lead image courtesy of Freepik.


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