Plant-Based Meat Is “Healthier and More Sustainable”

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40% of conventional meat products were classified as “less healthy” compared to just 14% of plant-based alternatives according to recent research.

New benefits of plant-based meats discovered.

According to the authors of a new study, plant-based dietary substitutes for animal products are healthier for both the environment and people than the animal products they are meant to replace.

According to a recent paper published in Future Foods, these foods are a much more effective way of reducing demand for meat and dairy than simply advising individuals to make vegetarian whole foods because they are “specifically formulated to replicate the taste, texture, and overall eating experience of animal products.”

According to the research, which was conducted by psychologists at the University of Bath, plant-based meat and dairy substitutes “offer a healthier and more environmentally sustainable solution which takes into account consumer preferences and behavior.”

43 studies on the effects of plant-based foods on human health, the environment, and consumer attitudes were analyzed. In one study, it was discovered that almost 90% of consumers who consumed plant-based meat and dairy were actually meat eaters or flexitarians. In another, it was discovered that plant-based foods that were comparable to processed meat in terms of taste, texture, and cost had the best chance of replacing it.

The study also discovered that compared to the animal products they were replacing, these plant-based goods produced fewer greenhouse gas emissions. According to one study, pea protein could cut CO2 emissions by up to eight million tons annually if it were to replace 5% of the beef consumed in Germany. Another study discovered that plant-based burgers were associated with up to 98% less greenhouse gas emissions than beef burgers.

The report authors suggest that plant-based products generally require much less agricultural land, need less water, and cause less pollution than animal products.

Studies focusing on the healthiness of plant-based products also found they tend to have better nutritional profiles compared to animal products, with one paper finding that 40% of conventional meat products were classified as ‘less healthy’ compared to just 14% of plant-based alternatives based on the UK’s Nutrient Profiling Model.

Others found plant-based meat and dairy were good for weight loss and building muscle mass, and could be used to help people with specific health conditions. Food producers may be able to add ingredients such as 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 likely to lead to further nutritional improvements.

Report author, Dr. Chris Bryant from the University of Bath, said: “Increasingly we’re seeing how plant-based products are able to shift demand away from animal products by appealing to three essential elements consumers want: taste, price, and convenience. This review demonstrates overwhelming evidence that as well as being far more sustainable compared to animal products in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and land use, plant-based animal product alternatives also have a wide range of health benefits.”

He continues, “Despite the incredible advances that plant-based producers have made over recent years, there is still huge potential to improve their taste, texture, and how they cook. There’s also enormous potential to innovate with ingredients and processes to improve their nutritional properties – for example by boosting vitamin content.”

The authors stress that whilst there are health benefits of these products compared to meat, multiple personal factors will impact health including overall calorie consumption and exercise/activity levels.

Dr. Bryant suggests that more research will now be needed to make these improvements a reality, ensuring manufacturers can make products that taste better, are healthier, and provide consumers with sustainable options that are more likely to reduce demand for meat.

Reference: “Plant-based animal product alternatives are healthier and more environmentally sustainable than animal products” by Christopher J. Bryant, 27 July 2022, Future Foods.
DOI: 10.1016/j.fufo.2022.100174

7 Comments on "Plant-Based Meat Is “Healthier and More Sustainable”"

  1. … Sci-tech daily is changing its name: the latest scam/cause daily… Fits alot better with retraction watch…

  2. “The report authors suggest that plant-based products generally require much less agricultural land, need less water, and cause less pollution than animal products.”

    Grazing animals can be, and are, grazed on grass and scrublands that are unsuitable for agriculture because of the slope or thin, infertile soil. Animals can take themselves to water, be it natural sources or tanks filled by windmills, thus not needing extensive land modification to supply irrigation water.

    What is missing from such dogmatic studies are the assumptions upon which the claims are based. For example, animals raised for food typically need feed lots to fatten them, and a slaughter house to process the meat. Plant-based substitutes need tilled agricultural land, with attendant irrigation systems, harvesters (with increased factory production of steel and related materials), transportation, and factories to process the plant-based materials into portions that are suitable in size and shape for cooking and being placed on a plate. Where is the analysis of the net energy and land acreage necessary to make the “more sustainable” products?

  3. “Data from China indicate that 18% of market- and shop-bought meat samples were contaminated with Salmonella; …”

    Doesn’t cooking kill the bacteria? Lately, it seems that most of the recalls for Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli are for vegetables. Nobody cooks their lettuce!

  4. Charles G. Shaver | September 25, 2022 at 8:15 am | Reply

    Dark-ages US medicine still ignores a kind of food allergies that was identified, studied and reported on by 1935 by Dr. Arthur F. Coca, in the late 1960s science gave us modified common allergen soy protein processed more cheaply with toxic hexane with some residue with the US female breast cancer epidemic presenting by 1979 and science gave us added ‘cultured-free’ MSG in 1980 with the US obesity/diabetes epidemic presenting by 1990. After dealing with a medically undiagnosed serious calcium deficiency in 2010 resultant of animal allergen avoidance I’m still addressing an even more serious medically undiagnosed phosphorus deficiency in 2021, resultant of incorrect calcium supplementation. For any scientists to think they are smarter than millions of years of evolution is totally arrogant, ignorant and incompetent.

  5. I don’t know where the author of this article shops, but at the stores in my area, plant-based meat is much costlier than the meat it is meant to replace.

  6. Rebecca Libauskas | September 26, 2022 at 2:01 pm | Reply

    Study after study, it’s clear: We can save the world one meal at a time. Eliminating animal agriculture represents “our best and most immediate chance to reverse the trajectory of climate change,” according to research published in the journal PLoS Climate.

    This new model— developed by scientists from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley—shows that a worldwide shift in the next 15 years would have the same effect as a 68% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through the year 2100.

    The researchers are optimistic that people can make this shift to save the planet, and so am I. With all of the delicious, healthy vegan options on the grocery store shelves already, and more on the way, everyone can embrace vegan living.

    Just like us, animals want to live—they don’t want to die for anyone’s dinner. So let’s save animals—and the world—by eating plant food.

    • Charles G. Shaver | September 27, 2022 at 9:13 am | Reply

      Rebecca, what makes you think plants lack consciousness and don’t want to live longer lives” And, writing from current experience, are you sure you are getting all of the micronutrients you need?

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