Tofu - A Healthy, Easy And Affordable Option
May 6, 2014

Converting Non-Believers On The Benefits Of Tofu

[ Watch the Video: The New Face Of Tofu ]

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Tofu – a tasteless, odorless substance that comes from the store as a jiggly white brick – can be a hard sell for some people, particularly the meat-and-potatoes set.

For Tofu lovers looking to convert friends and family around them, a new study from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab has found emphasizing that Tofu is easy to cook and very affordable is the best route in getting non-believers to at least consider trying the vegetarian option.

Published in the journal Eating Behaviors, the new study included 83 young women and new mothers who were enthusiastic about Tofu, as well as more than 500 non-Asian women between the ages of 20 and 35. Young women were selected for the study because the researchers considered them “future nutritional gatekeepers” for their families. Asians were excluded because Tofu is historically associated with Eastern cuisines and therefore probably more familiar to women of Asian descent.

The researchers reported that tofu enthusiasts viewed it as a great resource of light, low-cost protein.

“Importantly, they also believed you could cook firm Tofu just like chicken, but you didn’t have to worry about it spoiling,” said study author Adam Brumberg, a coordinator of academic and industry research at the Cornell food lab.

Interestingly, Tofu fans said they didn’t eat it for the protein or perceived health benefits. These women mostly reported eating Tofu because they said it was filling and convenient.

The study team said they also found some surprising results when it came to finding ways to convert people into Tofu fans. First, they noted that many non-fans held numerous misconceptions about Tofu. While fans of the food said they appreciated it as a source of protein and convenient ingredient to work with, non-fans tended to think of Tofu as hard to cook, requiring special ingredients and expensive. In fact, non-fans estimated the average cost of Tofu at $1 per pound more than beef.

The researchers found several techniques that were effective in having the non-fans to think about adding Tofu to their shopping lists. Letting them know all of the good healthy elements of Tofu, like how it is rich in protein and calcium or that it contains no cholesterol, only led to a 12 percent boost in the odds of purchase. However, changing their misconceptions by letting them know the real price, showing them a straightforward recipe they can make in 10 minutes and having them see the phrase “Cooks Like Chicken” made the non-fans almost 50 percent more prone to say they’d be inclined to attempt cooking with Tofu at home.

The analysis also demonstrated that the three most favored uses of Tofu are: Tofu Scramble, Stir Fry, and slicing it up and placing it on salads. While Tofu is sold in distinct firmness levels, the study’s sponsor, House Foods Americ, said 'firm' and 'extra firm' are the most favored among new Tofu converts.

“If you’re trying to convince a friend or family member to join you in becoming a Tofu lover, don’t belabor its health benefits; instead focus on it being quick and filling and cooking like chicken,” said Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food Lab. “In no time they’ll be making Tofu Scramble, Stir Fry and all the other dishes the Tofu lovers in the study listed as big parts of their diets.”