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P24 Meat vs meat alternatives: which is better for the environment and health? A nutritional and environmental analysis of animal-based products compared with their plant-based alternatives
  1. Alice Coffey1,
  2. Robert Lillywhite2,
  3. Oyinlola Oyebode1
  1. 1Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK


Background Poor diets lead to negative health outcomes including increased non-communicable diseases. Food systems, most notably agriculture, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) that lead to climate change. Meat consumption plays a role in both health and environmental burden. Consumption of meat alternatives may reduce these harms. This study aims to understand the nutritional, environmental and affordability differences between meat products and their plant-based alternatives, to support policy change and dietary advice.

Methods Data on nutritional information and cost for 99 selected products were collected from five UK supermarkets. Estimates for GHGE for 97 of these products were found through secondary articles. Median values for nutritional value, GHGE (kgCO2e) and price per 100g were calculated to allow comparisons between meat products and their alternatives. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to look for significant differences for each nutrient, emissions and price.

Results Meat alternatives contained significantly more fibre, sugar, and were significantly higher in price compared to the equivalent meat products. Meat alternatives had a significantly lower number of calories, saturated fat, protein and kgCO2e than the meat products. There was no significant difference in the amount of salt between meat and meat alternatives.

Conclusion Overall, this paper found that meat alternatives are likely to be better for health according to most parameters, while significantly reducing GHGE. However, the higher price of these products may be a barrier to switching to meat alternatives for the poorest in society.

  • Sustainable diets
  • Nutritional availability
  • Affordability

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