The nutritional impact of replacing dietary meat with meat alternatives in the UK: a modelling analysis using nationally representative data

Dominic N. Farsi*, Dinithi Uthumange, Jose Munoz Munoz, Daniel M. Commane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Dietary patterns high in meat compromise both planetary and human health. Meat-alternatives may help facilitate meat reduction, however the nutritional implications of displacing meat with meat-alternatives does not appear to have been evaluated. Here, data from the 9th cycle of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey was used as the basis of models to assess the effect of meat substitution on nutritional intake. We implemented three models; model 1 progressively replaced 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of the current meat intake with a weighted mean of meat-alternatives available in the UK market. Model 2 compared different ingredient categories of meat-alternative; vegetable, mycoprotein, a combination of bean and pea, tofu, nut and soy. Model 3 compared fortified versus unfortified meat-alternatives. The models elicited significant shifts in nutrients. Overall, there were increases in carbohydrate, fibre, sugars and sodium, whereas reductions were found for protein, total and saturated fat, iron and B12. The greatest effects were seen for; vegetable-based (+24.63g/day carbohydrates), mycoprotein-based (−6.12g/day total fat), nut-based (−19.79g/day protein, +10.23g/day fibre; −4.80g/day saturated fat, +7.44g/day sugars), soy-based (+495.98mg/day sodium), and tofu-based (+7.63mg/day iron, −2.02μg/day B12). Our results suggest meat-alternatives can be a healthful replacement for meat if chosen correctly. Consumers should seek out meat-alternatives which are low in sodium and sugar, high in fibre, protein and with high micronutrient density, to avoid compromising nutritional intake if reducing their meat intake. Manufacturers and policy makers should consider fortification of meat-alternatives with nutrients such as iron and B12 and focus on reducing sodium and sugar content.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Early online date21 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2021

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