Plant-based dietary alternatives to animal products are better for the environment and human health, according to a study.
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 way of reducing demand for meat and dairy rather than simply encouraging people to cook whole vegetarian meals.
The study, conducted by psychologists at the University of Bath in the UK, concluded that plant-based meat and dairy alternatives “offer a healthier and more environmentally sustainable solution that takes into account consumer preferences and behaviour”.
“Increasingly we are seeing how plant-based products are able to take demand away from animal products by appealing to three key elements that consumers want: 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 percent of consumers who ate plant-based meat and 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 were replacing. One study found that compared to beef burgers, plant-based burgers were associated with up to 98 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.
The team suggested that plant-based products generally require much less agricultural land, need less water and cause less pollution than animal products.
Studies focusing on the health of plant-based products also found that they tend to have better nutritional profiles compared to animal products, with one paper finding that 40 per cent of conventional meat products were classified as ‘less healthy’ compared to only 14 percent. of plant-based alternatives.
Others found that plant-based meats and dairy were good for weight loss and building muscle mass and could be used to help people with specific health conditions.
Food manufacturers may be able to add ingredients such as edible mushrooms, microalgae or spirulina to plant-based foods, increasing properties such as amino acids, B and E vitamins and antioxidants. Future innovations in processing and ingredients are likely to lead to further nutritional improvements.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a shared source.)