As a doctor and as a plant based eater I have researched and struggled with this problem alot. As we are learning more from lifestyle and nutritional research and as new alternative sources of meat (plant based forms) are becoming available. Do we really need to eat meat any longer?
In an article published from the University of Bath published in the journal, “Future Foods” plant based sources of meat or alternative meat products, were shown to be healthier overall compared to their traditional meat counterparts.
Current global & lifestyle issues are becoming more important and there are numerous research facilities around the globe who are formulating plant-based products to replicate the taste, texture and overall eating experience of animal products.
One interesting report from this study was that almost 90% of consumers who ate plant-based meat and dairy products were actually meat-eaters or flexitarians.
The study also concluded that plant-based foods reduced the usage of agricultural land, utilised less water and created less pollution. Apart from the impact on the environment, plant-based foods also increase weight loss and muscle mass. There is also the potential to create so-called functional foods, adding beneficial fungi, algae and spirulina providing an increase in essential macro and micro nutrients on offer.
Meat Protein vs Plant Based Protein
Epidemiological studies have reported various associations between dietary proteins and different protein sources and risks of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes (T2D), colorectal cancer (CRC), and mortality.
A higher plant protein intake was associated with a lower overall all-cause mortality, including cardiovascular disease. The most prominent reduction was seen when replacement of red and processed meat protein was replaced with plant protein.
When It comes to environmental impact of choosing plant based protein sources vs animal based protein sources showed that when 5% of German beef consumption was replaced by with pea protein showed that the total carbon dioxide emissions reduction in Germany by 8 million tons per year.
Also consuming plant-based burgers rather than beef burgers would reduce 98% of greenhouse gas emissions.
As an athlete myself I preferably consume plant based protein sources, you can access from this link -> Vegan Protein 1Kg
Saturated Fats From Meat
Over the years there have been a variety of studies suggesting that saturated fat from meat and dairy sources increases all forms of disease, in particular a high fat diet was linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
One of the largest dietary epidemiologic studies in the world, the PURE study examined the dietary habits of 220,000 people over nine years and including 50 different countries, demonstrated that those people who ingested on average 100 grams of red meat and 3 servings of high fat dairy per day had a 25% reduction in death and cardiovascular disease.
Although the link between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease is not convincing, the most robust data collected over decades, shows that people with the lowest cardiovascular risk and cancer consume on average 2 to 3 pieces of fruit and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables per day .Unfortunately less than 10% of people do this. In Malta people are eating less fruit and vegetables and more meat, especially from processed sources.
With the current global situation and ever increasing demand, we are probably headed for food shortages, This is already being felt in Europe and other parts of the globe.
The food we eat today and the choices we make will not only impact our health but also our economies.
A plant-based diet is beneficial, not only for ourselves, but also for the entire global economy.