Report authors from the University of Bath have suggested that there could be several benefits to plant-based dietary alternatives when compared to normal meat, that have positive impacts on both the consumer and the environment.
As part of their study, the researchers made a review examining a total of 43 separate studies which took an inside look at consumer attitudes, and the environmental impacts of plant-based foods. Across the board, they found several benefits of plant-based products, including:
- Replacing 5% of German beef consumption with pea protein could potentially reduce CO2 emissions by up to 8 million tonnes per year.
- Plant-based burgers emit 98% less greenhouse gas emissions when compared to traditional beef burgers.
- Plant-based products and meats that has a similar texture, taste and price to normal meats had the best chance of replacing them.
- Meat-eaters and flexitarians made up 90% of consumers who ate plant-based meats.
- Plant-based products tended to have better nutritional profiles compared to animal products.
- Plant-based products generally require less water, cause less pollution and require much less agricultural land compared to animal products.
"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.” said report author, Dr Chris Bryant.
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Other studies that were reviewed found that many plant-based meat and dairy products were effective for building muscle mass and weight loss. Ingredients such as microalgae, spirulina and edible fungi could even be added to plant-based products to boost levels of antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins B and E. There is also growing evidence that plant-based meat could soon be cheaper than animal meat.
While further research is needed, report author Dr Chris Bryant emphasized how plant-based products could be even further improved in terms of price, taste and texture, so that customers will be more willing to try the products. If manufacturers can make these improvements, it will help both consumers and the planet become more sustainable.