Research focused on the health of plant-based products has also found that they tend to have a better nutritional profile compared to animal-based products, with one paper finding that 40% of conventional meat products were classified as “less healthy,” And according to the UK’s Nutrient Composition Analysis Model, only 14% of plant-based alternatives were classified as “less healthy”.
Other studies have found that plant-based meat and dairy are beneficial for weight loss and muscle mass, and may be used to help people with specific health conditions. Food manufacturers may add ingredients such as edible fungi, microalgae or spirulina to plant foods to enhance properties such as amino acids, vitamins B and E and antioxidants. Future innovations in processing and ingredients may lead to further improvements in nutritional content.
Report author Dr Chris Bryant of the University of Bath said:
“Increasingly, we are seeing that plant-based products can shift demand away from animal products by appealing to the three basic elements consumers want: taste, price and convenience. This review shows ample evidence , in addition to being more sustainable than animal products in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and land use, plant-based alternatives to animal products have wide-ranging health benefits. Despite impressive gains by plant-based product producers in recent years Incredible progress, but there is still huge potential to improve its taste, texture and the way it is cooked. There is also huge potential to innovate ingredients and processes to improve its nutritional profile – for example by boosting its vitamin content”.
The authors emphasize that while there are health benefits of these products compared to meat, multiple individual factors will affect health, including overall calorie consumption and exercise/activity level.
Dr Bryant suggested that more research is now needed to make these improvements a reality, ensuring that manufacturers can make products that taste better, are healthier, and provide consumers with sustainable food that is more likely to reduce their need for meat.