Grass may soon be used as a source of vegan protein, according to a group of scientists from Technical University of Denmark’s (DTU) National Food Institute and Aarhus University in Denmark. While the fibrous nature of grass is difficult to digest and metabolize by humans, the researchers have developed a method to distill protein powder from grass matter, particularly ryegrass. The resulting powder has a similar amino acid profile to soy, eggs, and whey and can be used in a variety of applications once the researchers further reduce its naturally bitter flavor. “The ambition is that research from the National Food Institute can make the utilization of grass profitable. It must be able to compete with cheap products such as soy. It should be cheap to buy, offer good functionality in foods, and it must be tasty,” Peter Ruhdal Jense, professor at DTU’s National Food Institute, told FoodnavigatorUSA. “The idea is that we will eat many products based on grass. In particular, the market seems to be big among young consumers who, fortunately, pay great attention to the environment and sustainability.” Commercialization of grass protein depends on the approval of the European Union of the novel ingredient as safe for human consumption, a process that the scientists plan to support with further research. “In that way, the Institute contributes to us moving closer to a radical change in our eating habits—away from animal proteins that have an adverse impact on the environment and towards more sustainable alternatives,” Jensen said.
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