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Tofu - How to Get Your Friends to Try It

  • Published: 2014-05-06 : Author: Cornell Food and Brand Lab : Contact: Sandra Cuellar - foodandbrandlab@cornell.edu - Ph. 607-254-4960
  • Synopsis: Tofu is becoming a bigger part of western diets, especially for people who want fast and easy to cook dishes that can help keep them trim.

Quote: "The study also showed that the three most popular uses of Tofu were Tofu Scramble, Stir Fry, and cutting it up and putting it on salads."

Main Document

Tofu has long been a favorite among vegetarians and families with eastern ancestry. But now Tofu is becoming a bigger part of western diets, especially with 20-something women who want dishes that are quick, easy to cook and that can help keep them trim.

Tofu originated in ancient China some 2,000 years ago. Also known as bean curd, Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way. Tofu has a low calorie count, relatively large amounts of protein, and little fat. It is high in iron and depending on the coagulant used in manufacturing, may also be high in calcium or magnesium.

A new Cornell study, published this May in Eating Behaviors, involving 502 young women (20-35 years old) showed that tofu lovers saw it as a great source of light, inexpensive, energizing protein. "Importantly, they also believed you could cook firm Tofu just like chicken, but you didn't have to worry about it spoiling," said co-author Adam Brumberg. Although Tofu is high in calcium and has no cholesterol, most of these women didn't eat it for its healthy qualities. Instead, they ate Tofu because it is convenient and filling.

Tofu cartoon
About This Image: Tofu cartoon
The study also uncovered some interesting insights into how Tofu lovers can get their reluctant friends and family members to try new foods like Tofu.

The non-users in the group tended to have a number of misconceptions about Tofu. While women in the study who already cooked Tofu were twice as likely to think of it as a great source of protein and an easy-to-cook food, the non-users thought Tofu was difficult to cook, needed special extra ingredients and was expensive; in fact, many estimated prices being as much as one dollar per pound higher than beef, when asked to estimate the cost of a 1 pound block of Tofu.

However, the most interesting finding was what techniques were effective in getting the non-users to consider adding Tofu to their shopping carts. Telling them all of the positive health and diet related aspects of Tofu, such as being high in protein and calcium or that it has no cholesterol, only resulted in a 12% increase in the likelihood of purchase. But correcting their misconceptions by telling them the actual price, showing them a simple recipe they could make in 10 minutes and having them read the phrase "Cooks Like Chicken" made the non-users almost 50% more likely to say they'd be willing to try cooking with Tofu at home!

The study also showed that the three most popular uses of Tofu were Tofu Scramble, Stir Fry, and cutting it up and putting it on salads. Although Tofu is sold in different firmness levels, the study's sponsor, House Foods America, indicated that the firm and extra firm Tofu are the most popular among new Tofu converts.

What's the key take away of this study

Dr. Brian Wansink says, "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. 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."


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Interesting Similar Topics
1 : Vegan Diet Improves Diabetes Markers in Overweight Adults : Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
2 : Tofu - How to Get Your Friends to Try It : Cornell Food and Brand Lab.
3 : Starting a Vegetarian or Vegan Lifestyle Guide : Illuminate Good Health Publishing.
4 : World Vegetarian Day - Oct 1 - Give Vegetarianism a Try and Win Up to $1000 : North American Vegetarian Society.
5 : Vegetarians Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke and Diabetes : Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center.
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