Plant-based meats are better for the environment and the stomach, according to a study

BATH, UK — After all, vegetarians may have the right idea. A new review from food scientists at the University of Bath suggests that plant-based meat products are healthier and better for the environment than animal-based meats.

“Increasingly we see how plant-based products can shift demand away from animal products by appealing to three essential elements that consumers want: taste, price and convenience,” says Chris Bryant, professor of psychology at the University of Bath. , in a university statement. “This review demonstrates overwhelming evidence that, in addition to 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.

Plant-based meats have come a long way. Just eating tofu is a thing of the past now that “beyond” and “impossible” meat alternatives can mimic the taste, texture and experience of eating animal meats. As more options become available, people seem to be forgoing the meat and dairy aisle in favor of vegetarian cuisines.

The current review looked at the results of 43 studies that investigated the health and environmental impact of plant-based foods. They also looked at trends in consumer behavior, specifically how people felt about eating substitute meat. In one study, 90% of people who ate meat and plant-based dairy products were carnivores or flexitarians, meaning people who followed a vegetarian diet but occasionally ate meat. The study authors also concluded that plant-based products that tasted closest to processed meats were most likely to replace real animal meat.

From carnivore to environmentalist?

Diners not only enjoy the taste, but plant-based foods allow them to eat “guilt-free.” The review found that plant-based products reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than animal products. For example, estimates show that replacing five percent of German beef consumption with pea protein reduces carbon dioxide emissions by eight million tons a year. Choosing plant-based burgers over beef burgers could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 98 percent. One reason plant-based foods are better for the environment is that they require less farmland and water and create less pollution than the meat industry.

In terms of health, researchers say that plant-based products are better for the body than animal meat. One study classified 40% of meat products as “less healthy,” compared to 14% of plant-based alternatives.

Plant-based meat and dairy options also help with weight loss and muscle building. One reason is that food manufacturers can get creative with their recipes, adding edible mushrooms, microalgae, or spirulina to plant-based foods. In turn, people consume more amino acids, vitamin B, vitamin E and antioxidants. However, other factors, such as total calorie intake and exercise levels, also play a role in a person’s overall health.

Dr. Bryant suggests that future research on plant-based products should focus on how to improve their taste, wholesomeness, and sustainability to reduce demand for meat.

The study is published in the journal future foods.

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