ENVIRONMENT

Study establishes plant-based diet's are more sustainable

Plant-based products caused lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

In Summary

•Plant-based products generally require much less agricultural land, need less water and cause less pollution than animal products.

•The study, done by psychologists, concludes that plant-based meat and dairy takes into account consumer preferences and behaviour.

A group of women display harvested Kale, popularly known as Sukuma Wiki in Kenya.
FILE A group of women display harvested Kale, popularly known as Sukuma Wiki in Kenya.
Image: AGATHA NGOTHO

Researchers at the University of Bath have established that having plant-based dietary alternatives is better for the environment compared to animal products they are designed to replace.

Plant-based means food that is free of animal products and only made from vegetables, fruits or other plant materials. 

The new study published in Future Foods argues that because these foods are 'specifically formulated to replicate the taste, texture, and overall eating experience of animal products', they are a much more impactful in reducing the demand for meat and dairy than simply encouraging people to phase out meat all together.

The study, done by psychologists, concludes that plant-based meat and dairy do not disrupt consumer preferences or behaviour while maintaining a positive effect on the environment. 

In terms of being environmental friendly, the research found that plant-based products produced lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than animal products, based on production and distribution requirements. 

Vegetable vendor Christopher Kimani organises his stall at the City Park Market on July 25
Vegetable vendor Christopher Kimani organises his stall at the City Park Market on July 25
Image: MARGARET WANJIRU

Researchers state that plant-based products generally require much less agricultural land, need less water, and cause less pollution than animal products.

While stressing the health benefits of a plant based diet compared to meat, they do however, say there are multiple personal factors that will impact health including overall calorie consumption, exercise, or activity levels of a person.

Dr Chris Bryant, report author of the study suggests that more research is needed to make these improvements a reality.

Bryant says the key to promoting sustainability is by ensuring manufacturers can make products that taste as good, are healthier and provide consumers with more sustainable options that are likely to reduce demand for meat.

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