Topical Area: Climate/Environment, Health, Agriculture and Improved Nutrition
Meat analogs are processed foods designed to mimic meat products, proposed by World Watch Institute as viable lower carbon footprint alternatives to the processed meats. Their popularity is increasing among people seeking protein foods that are both nutritious and sustainable. Nevertheless, there is limited data about the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with their production. Thus, we measured the GHG emissions associated with the production of plant-based meat analogs, and their nutritional composition.
Methods : We performed life cycle analyses of 56 meat analogs, in different formats and ingredient compositions, from ingredient production to the final commercial product. Their nutritional value was analyzed based on their ingredients. Results were reported per 100g, serving size, protein content and 100 kcal.
Results : Mean GHG emissions from meat analogs was moderately low (0.22 kg CO2e/100g) and independent of their main source of protein (soy or gluten). However, the CO2e/100g for non-vegan products (0.27) is significantly larger than vegan products (0.20). Per 100g of product, the protein content varied from 18-32g, iron 2.2-5.4mg, zinc 0.8-2.9mg and fiber 1.6-6.3g. The analogs contained less than 1g of saturated fat, less than 140 kcal, and less than 205 mg sodium per serving size. Most of them were vitamin B12 fortified. Compared to a meat burger, their environmental impact is several times lower, and the analogs have 58% less energy, 96% less saturated fat, 33% less sodium, no cholesterol, and double the amount of fiber.
Conclusions : Altogether, plant-based meat analogs can form part of a nutritive and environmentally sustainable diet.
Funding Sources : This research was funded by the McLean Fund for Nutrition Research