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4 reasons why plant-based meat alternatives are a good idea

Food classifications typically consider whole, unprocessed food (like meat) as healthy and ultra-processed foods like plant-based meat alternatives as unhealthy. But numerous nutritional studies show eating meat and processed meat is consistently associated with a wide range of health risks including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Plant-based meat alternatives are the healthy alternative.

Veggie burger
Plant-based burgers contain almost twice as much iron and more calcium than beef burgers

Here are 4 reasons why plant-based meat alternatives are a good idea

1. They are more nutritious: Comparisons between the nutritional makeup of the plant-based patties from Beyond Meat (tested at McDonalds), Impossible Burger (Burger King’s plant-based patty choice) and a beef patty show the plant-based burgers are lower in calories, have less total fat and contain no cholesterol. Both plant-based burgers had carbohydrates and fibre. And the Beyond burger even had slightly more protein than the beef burger. The plant-based burgers contain almost twice as much iron and more calcium than the beef burger. However, the high sodium content in the plant-based burgers is something to be aware of.

2. They lower your risk of a heart attack and blood clots: The results from the SWAP-Meat study, a randomised study to determine if swapping red meat for plant-based meat can lower cardiovascular risk factors, showed an increase in TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) levels in those eating meat compared to those eating PBMAs. High levels of TMAO are consistent with increased inflammation, blood clotting and 60% higher risk of a cardiovascular event like a heart attack.

3. They could lower your cholesterol and help you lose weight: The SWAP-Meat study also showed, that when eating plant-based, levels of LDL cholesterol dropped on average 10 mill pd (which is clinically significant). And participants lost an average of 2 pounds (0.9kg).

4. They give you a healthy gut: The findings from a randomised controlled trial to test if PBMAs made with natural ingredients can have positive effects on the gut microbiome found that occasionally replacing animal meats with plant-based alternatives can promote positive changes in your gut microbiome.

And 3 reasons why plant-based meat alternatives are good for our planet:

1. They impact the environment less: plant proteins, even if processed into imitation burgers, have smaller climate, water, and land impacts than animal meats.

2. They make an ethical impact: reducing meat production would reduce animal suffering and the risk of both animal-borne disease and antibiotic resistance.

3. They help us meet critical climate targets: Fossil fuels do make up a far greater proportion of emissions globally, but even if energy emissions were reduced to zero, demand for meat and dairy alone could make us exceed critical levels of global warming. Read that again!

So, the research shows that while they are processed, PBMAs are not bad for our health. The reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, reduce blood clot risk, healthy gut and weight loss all make a clear case for switching to plant-based meat alternatives. Meat alternatives are far better for the animals and the planet too.

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