A new research review points to evidence that plant-based meat alternatives could be “useful transition foods” in the adoption of a more whole food-based vegan diet.
The EPIC-Oxford study adds to the ever-increasing evidence of the health benefits of a plant-based diet, notably showing a 32 percent decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease as compared to non-plant-based diets. The study also pointed to an associated heart attack risk reduction of over 80 percent as compared to medications, which only reduce the risk of heart attack by between 20 and 30 percent.
To take advantage of these benefits, study author Hana Kahleova, PhD.,M.D. says “a whole-food, plant-based” diet is the healthiest option.
“The less processed the foods are, the better,” she says.
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However, she tells FoodNavigator, “Processed plant-based foods like veggie sausage, bacon, or vegan cheese can be useful for some to use as transition foods, because they provide the taste of the animal products people are accustomed to consuming, with fewer health risks.”
“Often, as people experiment more with plant foods,” she continues, “Their taste buds change, and they rely less on these processed foods and more on whole plant foods. There are also many great plant-based replacements made from healthful, whole foods, for example veggie burgers made with beans, rice, and vegetables.”
The plant-based meat alternative market has seen an enormous growth of late, with one Markets and Markets report published earlier this year indicating that the plant-based meat substitutes market will likely reach $6.43 billion by 2023. Companies contributing to the marketplace include Impossible Foods, which has developed a "bleeding" plant-based burger with the texture of meat, as well as Beyond Meat, which has developed not only a plant-based burger, but also a plant-based sausage alternative.
Other recent studies examining the health benefits of a plant-based diet have pointed not only to improved heart health but also to a lowered risk of developing diabetes.
Recent research also points to overwhelming environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, with one May study from the University of Oxford indicating that eating a vegan diet contributes more to the reduction of an individual's carbon footprint than cutting back on travel or buying an electric car.
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