Nutrition and Sustainability Research Needed for Plant Based Meat Alternatives

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Farmscape for December 27, 2019

Full Interview 9:11 Listen

The Scientific Director with Dalhousie University suggests more research is needed into the nutritional and sustainability aspects of plant based alternatives to meat. For decades pork, beef and chicken have dominated the protein markets but now plant based alternatives are focusing on sustainability, animal welfare and even health to alter those dynamics. “Fake Meat Madness and Pork’s Resilience” was among the topics discussed in Saskatoon last month as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2019. Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, the Scientific Director with Dalhousie University, observes it’s difficult for consumers to be certain of what these plant based alternatives actually offer.

Clip-Dr. Sylvain Charlebois-Dalhousie University:
When you look at metrics and the science behind all of these products there are distorting messages coming from all of these different groups, including companies trying to promote their products as much as possible. I think it’s been problematic for that plant based industry because they’ve been infatuated with the concept of replicating what beef does, what pork does and so on and so forth. I think that’s a danger zone for them because, at some point, people will realize it’s not the same thing and if I want to eat pork or beef why don’t I buy pork or beef. I think there needs to be more research on nutrition and sustainability to make sure that we know exactly what we’re dealing with and consumers can actually make sound and informed decisions.

Dr. Charlebois says, for the pork sector, there is an opportunity to engage a public that is in transition and pork has the advantage of being affordable and could be included in many portable solutions because price is always key.

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