Food Manufacturing, News, Sustainability

Plant-based beef’s performance in comparison to the animal product

According to Macquarie University, plant-based beef outperforms its animal counterpart in terms of climate change and land use, but there is insufficient evidence to determine which option is nutritionally superior.

A new study from researchers at Macquarie University has revealed the industry and consumers are looking for quality information on the advantages and disadvantages of plant based and animal-based products.

The university reports most plant-based beef products produces more than 90 per cent less greenhouse emissions than animal produce.

The interdisciplinary research group undertook a scoping investigation into the existing scientific understanding regarding the sustainability and nutritional value of both traditional beef and plant-based beef.

This study, financially supported by an alternative protein producer, was conducted independently to understand the various claims and counterclaims regarding these food products.

The results of the study have been published in the latest edition of Journal of Cleaner Production.

According to Professor Andrew McGregor, a human geographer, the literature indicates that plant-based beef outperforms its animal counterpart significantly across all metrics concerning climate change and land utilisation.

“Most of the emissions associated with beef come from the methane emitted through cattle burps. Transporting the animals and refrigerating the meat contribute a relatively small percentage of the total, which surprises a lot of people,” said McGregor.

Associate professor Seema Mihrshahi, a public health researcher, suggests that the findings regarding the nutritional advantages of plant-based beef were inconclusive.

“Plant-based beef is lower in energy and fat, including bad fats and cholesterol, and higher in carbohydrates and fibre, but it is higher in salt and lower in protein, iron and zinc than beef,” said aMihrshahi.

Ultimately, plant-based beef patties are a good ‘gateway burger’ for someone moving towards a plant-based diet, or for a flexitarian who wants to reduce their intake of red meat, because they are similar in texture and taste to a beef burger.”

McGregor reported, most sustainability and nutritional research is funded by either the meat or plant-based protein industries, or in response to the requirements of one of those industries.

“If people are to make informed choices about what they eat, there needs to be more independent research done in this area which answers a broader range of questions, including issues like jobs, working conditions, animal welfare and biodiversity loss, not just the questions that individual companies or industry bodies want answers to,” said McGregor.

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