Potential impact of meat replacers on nutrient quality and greenhouse gas emissions of diets in four European countries

Elly Mertens, Sander Biesbroek*, Marcela Dofková, Lorenza Mistura, Laura D'Addezio, Aida Turrini, Carine Dubuisson, Sabrina Havard, Ellen Trolle, Johanna M. Geleijnse, Pieter van 't Veer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Meat replacers could play a role in achieving more plant-based diets, but their current consumption is limited. The present modelling study aimed to explore the nutritional and greenhouse gas emissions impacts of meat replacers. Using dietary surveys from Denmark, Czech Republic, Italy and France (~6500 adults), we composed alternative diets in which all the meat in the observed diet (in grams) was substituted by similar use meat replacers (with and without fortification). Starting from the observed diets and meat-replacement diets, diets with improved adherence to food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) were modelled using Data Envelopment Analysis. These improved diets were then further optimised for dietary preferences (MaxP, diet similarity index), nutrient quality (MaxH, Nutrient Rich Diet score, NRD15.3) or diet-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) (MaxS, CO2 equivalents). In all optimised modelled diets, the total amount of meat was lower than in the observed diets, i.e., 30% lower in the MaxP, 50% lower in the MaxH, and 75% lower in the MaxS diets. In the MaxP diet, NRD15.3 was ~6% higher, GHGE was ~9% lower, and ~83% of food intake remained similar. In the MaxH diet, NRD15.3 was ~17% higher, GHGE was ~15% lower, and ~66% of food intake remained similar. In the MaxS diet, NRD15.3 was ~9% higher, GHGE was ~33% lower, and ~65% of food intake remained similar. When using fortified meat replacers, for all modelled diets, the diet similarity was on average 2% lower and the GHGE reduction was on average 3% higher as compared with the same scenarios without fortification. This analysis showed that meat replacers, provided their preference is similar to meat, can provide benefits for GHGE, without necessarily compromising nutrient quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6838
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Diet modelling
  • Environmental impact
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Nutritional quality
  • Preferable
  • Scenario analysis

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