I’m keynoting the workship on Food, Ethics, Politics at 4:00 with a reception to follow. My talk, “”Food, Ethics, Politics: The View from 2022,” will be in the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Maeder Hall, Room 002. This event is part of the University Center for Human Values (UCHV) Conferences, Workshops & Special Events. To register to attend, click here.
Conflicted study of the week: plant-based meat alternatives
A big question for discussion is whether plant-based meat alternatives are better for health and the environment than regulat meat. Are they? Here is one study.
Plant-based animal product alternatives are healthier and more environmentally sustainable than animal products.
Christopher J. Bryant. Front Nutr. 2022 Jul 19;9:934438. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.934438. eCollection 2022.
Rationale: There are strong reasons to move away from industrial animal agriculture for the good of the environment, animals, our personal health, and public health. Plant-based animal product alternatives (PB-APAs) represent a highly feasible way to reduce animal product consumption, since they address the core consumer decision drivers of taste, price, and convenience.
Method: This paper reviews 43 studies on the healthiness and environmental sustainability of PB-APAs compared to animal products.
Findings: In terms of environmental sustainability, PB-APAs are more sustainable compared to animal products across a range of outcomes including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use, and other outcomes. In terms of healthiness, PB-APAs present a number of benefits, including generally favourable nutritional profiles, aiding weight loss and muscle synthesis, and catering to specific health conditions.
Conclusion: As more conventional meat producers move into plant-based meat products, consumers and policymakers should resist naturalistic heuristics about PB-APAs and instead embrace their benefits for the environment, public health, personal health, and animals.
Conflict of interest: Although there is no specific conflict of interest or funding related to this project, the author is an independent research consultant and works with alternative protein companies.
Comment: You would think that plant-based meat alternatives would be better for the environment than beef but without an agreed-upon method for assessing environmental impact, much depends on researchers’ assumptions. This literature review was done by a consultant who does research for companies making alternative-to-meat proteins. His conclusion based on his study—the takeover of small plant-based meat companies by Big Meat is a Good Thing—is predictable from his conflicted interest. I’d prefer an independent assessment of the environmental implications of these products.
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