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Plant-based alternatives are better than meat, new study concludes


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A new study from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, published in the academic journal Nature Communications, shows that plant-based alternatives are better than meat when it comes to your health, the planet, and in many cases even your wallet.

plant-based alternative food.jpgThe researchers, from the Centre and University of Oxford, looked at the environmental, nutritional and cost implications of various diets where meat from animal sources were replaced by their respective plant-based alternatives. The results showed that plant-based diets are better for the planet, good for your health, and cost about the same as what the average consumer in Sweden pays for “traditional” food today.

“The best thing you can do for the planet, your own health, and your wallet is to switch to a largely plant-based diet. If you find it easier to switch to plant-based alternatives that look and feel like meat, fish, or dairy, that’s okay,” says Anne Charlotte Bunge, lead author of the study and researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

For consumers in Sweden, switching to more plant-based diets is cost-competitive with the current average meat-diet and would be even cheaper if they switched to plant-based whole foods.

A diet consisting of a variety of plant-based vegan alternative foods also meets nutritional recommendations in Sweden. The study found that such a plant-based diet also meets most of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations. This could partly be explained by the fact that it’s mandatory in Sweden for companies to enrich certain foods with micronutrients such as vitamin D and calcium.

“Because of that, processed Swedish plant-based alternatives often have a nutritional content similar to the animal-based food they intend to replace. For example, oat drink has a similar calcium level as dairy milk,” Bunge explains.

The study also concluded, like many other studies have done, that a vegetarian and vegan diet are much better for the environment and our climate. Switching to a plant-based diet – both plant-based alternatives and whole foods – lowered greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent. The study also showed that plant-based diets need much less agricultural land and reduced water usage compared to more “traditional” meat diets.

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