As per a new study conducted by psychologists at the University of Bath , plant-based nutritional substitutes for animal products are healthier for both the people and environment, than the animal products they are meant to replace. The findings of this research were published in a journal titled Future Foods’. The study argues 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 than simply encouraging vegetarian whole foods.
The paper examined 43 studies into the health and environmental impacts of plant-based foods, as well as consumer attitudes. One study found that almost 90 per cent of consumers who ate plant-based meat and dairy were in fact meat-eaters or flexitarians; another found that plant-based products with a similar taste, texture, and price to processed meat had the best chance of replacing meat.
The paper also found that these plant-based products caused lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than the animal products they were replacing. One paper studied by the authors found replacing five per cent of German beef consumption with pea protein could reduce CO2 emissions by eight million tonnes a year. Another study said beef burgers, plant-based burgers were associated with up to 98 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions.
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 per cent of conventional meat products were classified as ‘less healthy’ compared to just 14 per cent 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.