Not all “meatless meats” are good for your health or the environment

Science-backed claims that plant-based meats are healthier for both humans and the environment have sparked a global wave of veganism that shows no signs of slowing down.

Consumers have become increasingly conscious about doing better by their bodies and the environment, and fast-food joints like McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC are catering to the growing demand. These trends, coupled with recent COVID-19 meat shortages, have contributed to 17% projected growth in the global market for meat alternatives, from 3.6 billion in 2020 to 4.2 billion in 2021.

Some brands make great efforts to mimic meat, using scientifically engineered textures, smells and flavours, with ingredients such as soy leghemoglobin, made from genetically modified yeast, which is used to give the appearance of blood. Products such as these are not necessarily very healthy.

Fake meats that are highly processed and rely on ingredients/materials/processes that are detrimental to the environment or human health — while having a lower carbon footprint than even the greenest of red meats — are not necessarily the best option as meat alternatives.

Marco Springmann, a senior researcher with the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food indicates that typical plant-based meat alternatives produce the same amount of emissions as poultry and five times the emissions of vegetables and legumes.

And despite producing ten times fewer emissions than red meat on average, research from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology indicates that “Among meat substitutes… veggie burgers are associated with the highest emissions, at 4.1 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilogram of product.”Source :