This is part of an article first published on the Seriously Smoked website on November 27, 2020 and is reproduced with permission.
Plant based meat is seeing significant growth around the world as more and more people are looking to limit their meat consumption. In fact, there has been a 26% rise in sales totaling $800 million in revenue over the past year alone.
But how do plant based meats compare to the real thing and what does the future hold for the big players like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods? In this post, we’ll look at plant based meat alternatives, how they compare to real meat, and what the future might look like for the meat industry as a whole.
What are plant based meats?
So what exactly is plant based meat? The answer may not shock you – it’s meat made from plants, usually soy or peas.
It is a product that has been specifically designed to either look, taste or cook like conventional meat and often incorporates all or most of these properties.
It is most commonly found in the form of burger patties, sausages or nuggets, mimicking the most popular forms of meat. But as the industry has grown from strength to strength and the popularity of meat alternatives has grown, it’s taking on new forms and there are whole ranges of plant products including mince and even ribs.
What was once an industry of dry, grainy veggie burgers is now an industry which has steaks that look like they bleed when cooked.
Benefits of eating plant based meats
You’d think that being plant-based would make them much healthier than actual meat, but the truth is a little more complicated.
Harvard Health carried out a comparison experiment and published an article posting their results. They found that plant-based meat alternatives did offer a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but it was important to acknowledge that they were also highly processed containing high saturated fat and sodium levels.
Side by side, meat and plant-based patties both held some of the same unhealthy compounds, but plant based products were no worse than their meat counterparts. And although they did do better in some categories, they aren’t as healthy as many would like to believe.
As with any food products, even though they are made using plant alternatives, many companies have developed fast food style products that mimic their meat variations. So just because they are plant based, this does not always equate to healthy.
That being said studies have shown that having a diet with a higher amount of plant-based foods versus animal products leads to a longer life with a reduced risk of ailments prevalent in a meat-based diet.
Specific ailments include less risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and heart disease, which has been attributed to plant-based diets consisting of a much lower intake of animal carcinogens.
highly processed meats such as bacon are considered ‘clear class one carcinogens’ by the world health organisation, putting them in the same bracket as cigarettes. So even though plant-based meats may carry high levels of sodium and saturated fats, they do not compare to meat-based processed products in this manner.
It’s not just our health that can benefit from plant-based alternatives. Studies have shown that plant-based alternatives such as the Beyond Meat burger patty can have a significant environmental effect compared to a quarter pound of U.S beef.
Scientists showed that the plant-based alternative creates 90% less greenhouse gas emission, requires 46% less energy input to produce, has a 99% reduced impact on water scarcity, and a 93% reduced impact on land use.
It’s clear there is a huge environmental difference between the plant-based and meat options for a burger patty.
But it’s not only this one company or product that can generate such incredible differences. Comparable studies of the Impossible Burger have shown a similarly reduced environmental impact – 89% reduced carbon footprint as well as similar impacts on land and water use.
This means that as well as being better for your physical health, mentally plant based meat alternatives are also giving a much-needed change in our daily impact on the planet we live on.
Read the rest of the article on the Seriously Smoked website