Plant-based meat healthier and more sustainable than animal products: study
According to a study, plant-based food alternatives to animal products are better for the environment and for human health.
The study, published in the journal Future Foods, argued that because these foods are “specifically formulated to replicate the taste, texture and overall eating experience of animal products”, they are a much more effective in reducing the demand for meat and dairy products than simply encouraging people to cook vegetarian whole foods.
The study, conducted by psychologists at the University of Bath in the UK, concluded that plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy “provide a healthier and more environmentally sustainable solution that takes preferences into account. and consumer behavior”.
“We increasingly see how plant-based products are able to shift demand away from animal-based products by appealing to three key elements that consumers are looking for: taste, price and convenience,” said Dr. Chris Bryant from the university.
The team reviewed 43 studies on the health and environmental impacts of plant-based foods, as well as consumer attitudes. One study found that almost 90% of consumers who ate meat and plant-based dairy products were actually meat eaters.
The paper also found that these plant-based products caused lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than the animal products they replaced. One article found that compared to beef burgers, plant-based burgers were associated with up to 98% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
The team suggested that plant-based products generally require much less agricultural land, require less water and cause less pollution than animal-based products.
Studies focusing on the safety of plant-based products have also found that they tend to have better nutrient profiles compared to animal-based products, with one article revealing that 40% of conventional meat products ranked as “less healthy” against only 14% of plant-based alternatives.
Others have found that plant-based meat and dairy products are good for weight loss and building muscle mass, and can be used to help people with specific health conditions.
Food producers may be able to add ingredients such as edible mushrooms, microalgae, or spirulina to plant-based foods, boosting 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.
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