A study from the University of Bath reports that plant-based food alternatives to animal products are better for the environment and human health compared to the animal products they are intended to replace.
The newspaper (“Plant-based alternatives to animal products are healthier and more environmentally friendly than animal products“) appears in Future foods, published by Elsevier. The article states that because these foods are “specifically formulated to mimic the taste, texture, and overall eating experience of animal products,” they are a much more effective way of reducing the demand for meat and dairy products than simply encouraging people to eat. to cook vegetarian whole foods. .
Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives “provide a healthier and more environmentally friendly solution that takes consumer preferences and behavior into account,” the study concluded.
“There are growing reasons to move away from industrial livestock farming for the sake of the environment, animals, our personal health and public health. Plant-based alternatives to animal products (PB-APAs) represent a very viable way to reduce the consumption of animal products, as they address the key drivers of consumer decisions, namely taste, price and convenience,” wrote study author Chris Bryant, PhD, a researcher. psychologist.
“PB-APAs tend to displace demand for animal products, not other plant foods, and are better able to do so compared to plant foods alone. This article reviews 43 studies on the health and environmental sustainability of PB-APAs Compared to Animal Products In terms of environmental sustainability, PB-APAs are more sustainable compared to animal products for a range of outcomes, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use, and other outcomes.
“In terms of health, PB-APAs provide a number of benefits, including generally favorable nutritional profiles, aiding weight loss and muscle synthesis, and addressing specific health concerns. In addition, several studies present ways in which PB-APAs can further improve their health using optimal ingredients and processing.
“As more conventional meat producers move to plant-based meat products, consumers and policymakers need to resist naturalistic heuristics about PB-APAs and instead embrace their environmental, public, personal health and animal benefits.”
The review examined 43 studies on the health and environmental effects of plant-based foods, as well as consumer attitudes. One study found that nearly 90% of consumers who ate plant-based meats and dairy were in fact meat eaters or flexitarians; another found that plant-based products with a similar taste, texture and price to processed meat had the best chance of replacing meat.
Produce less greenhouse gases
The paper also found that these plant products produced lower greenhouse gas emissions than the animal products they replace. One paper found that replacing 5% of German beef consumption with pea protein CO. could reduce2 emissions by up to eight million tons per year. Another found that compared to beef burgers, plant-based burgers were associated with up to 98% less greenhouse gas emissions.
The report suggests that plant products require far less farmland, require less water and cause less pollution than animal products.
Studies that focused on the health of plant products also showed that they generally have better nutrient profiles compared to animal products. based alternatives based on the British Nutrient Profiling Model.
Others found that plant-based meats and dairy were good for weight loss and building muscle, and could be used to help people with specific health conditions. Food manufacturers may be able to add ingredients such as edible fungi, microalgae or spirulina to plant foods, enhancing properties such as amino acids, vitamins B and E, and antioxidants. Future innovations in processing and ingredients are likely to lead to further nutritional improvements.
“We are increasingly seeing how plant-based products can shift demand from animal products by appealing to three essential elements consumers want: taste, price and convenience,” Bryant said. “This review shows overwhelming evidence that, in addition to being much more sustainable compared to animal products in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use, plant-based alternatives to animal products also have a wide range of health benefits.
“Despite the incredible progress that vegetable producers have made in recent years, there is still enormous potential to improve their taste, texture and how they cook. There is also enormous potential to innovate with ingredients and processes to improve their nutritional properties. improve, for example by increasing the vitamin content.”
The paper stressed that while there are health benefits of these products compared to meat, multiple personal factors will affect health, including overall calorie consumption and exercise/activity levels. Bryant suggested that more research will now be needed to realize these improvements, so manufacturers can create products that taste better, are healthier and provide consumers with sustainable options that are more likely to reduce the demand for meat.
For more information on plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, see: GENE: “Shiru creates sustainable and scalable animal-free ingredients for food,” and “Scientific challenges and solutions for the production of cultured meat”.” Also see Letters for environmental research (“Impact of plant-based meat alternatives on livestock and greenhouse gas emissions Environmental research letters“), British Food Journal (“Predicting and promoting the consumption of plant-based meat“), and the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition (“Nutritional assessment of vegetable meat analogues in the Swedish market“).