When compared to the animal products they are intended to replace, a research from the University of Bath shows that plant-based dietary alternatives to animal products are beneficial to the environment and for human health.
Future Foods, published by Elsevier, describes plant-based animal product alternatives as being healthier and more environmentally sustainable than animal products. The author believes that these foods are a much more effective strategy of reducing meat and dairy consumption than simply encouraging people to prepare vegetarian whole foods.
According to the study, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are a healthier and more environmentally sustainable solution that takes into account consumer preferences and behaviors.
For the good of the environment, animals, our personal health, and public health, there are growing compelling reasons to steer away from industrial animal agriculture. Plant-based animal product alternatives (PB-APAs) are an economical, environmentally friendly approach, according to study author Chris Bryant, PhD, a psychologist.
PB-APAs are more able to replace animal products than whole plant foods alone, and are more ecologically sustainable compared to animal products in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and other outcomes.
PB-APAs have a variety of advantages, including generally favorable nutritional profiles, aiding weight loss and muscle synthesis, and accommodating to specific health conditions. Moreover, several studies demonstrate ways in which PB-APAs may enhance their healthiness even further using optimal ingredients and processing.
Consumers and policymakers should avoid naturalistic heuristics about PB-APAs and instead embrace their health benefits for the environment, public health, and animals as more traditional meat producers switch to plant-based meat products.
43 studies on plant-based foods, as well as consumer attitudes, were examined in the review. One study found that about 90% of consumers who ate plant-based meat and dairy were meat eaters or flexitarians; another found that plant-based products with a similar taste, texture, and price to processed meat had the highest likelihood of substituting meat.
Plant-based foods also caused lower greenhouse gas emissions than the animal products they were substituting. One paper found that replacing 5% of German beef consumption with pea protein might reduce CO2 emissions by up to eight million tons a year. Another found that plant-based burgers had up to 98% less greenhouse gas emissions than beef burgers.
Plant-based goods require much less land, require less water, and are less polluting than animal products, according to the report.
Plant-based beverages have also shown that they have better nutritional profiles than animal products, according to one study, 40 percent of conventional meat products were classified as less nutritious compared to just 14% of plant-based alternatives, according to the UK's Nutrient Profiling Model.
Others believed that animal products and dairy were beneficial for weight loss and muscle mass and could be used to treat specific health conditions. Food manufacturers may be able to add edible fungi, 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 expected to lead to further nutritional improvements.
According to Bryant, plant-based products are capable of shifting consumer preference away from animal products by appealing to three essential characteristics: taste, price, and convenience. A review demonstrates overwhelming evidence that, in addition to being far more sustainable in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and land use, plant-based animal product alternatives also have a wide range of health benefits.
Despite the incredible advancements that plant-based producers have made in recent years, there is still huge potential to enhance their flavor, texture, and how they cook. There is also enormous potential to experiment with ingredients and processes to increase their nutritional properties, for example by increasing vitamin content.
The paper asserted that although meat benefits are shown, many personal factors will influence health, including overall calorie consumption and exercise/activity levels. More research is required to ensure manufacturers can produce products that taste better, are healthier, and are more likely to reduce meat demand.
See GEN: Shiru Creates Sustainable and Scalable Animal-Free Ingredients for Food, and Scientific Challenges and Solutions for Cultured Meat Manufacturing (Impact of plant-based meat alternatives on cattle inventories and greenhouse gas emissions), the British Food Journal (Predicting and promoting the consumption of plant-based meat), and the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition (Nutritional assessment of plant-based meat analogs on the Swedish market).