Meat & Dairy Alternatives
Why is this important?
As a champion of healthy, sustainable food the Vegetarian Society is an organisation committed to actively encouraging development and consumption of low carbon plant-based foods, especially alternatives to meat and dairy.
Meat and dairy generate an untenable amount of carbon and environmental impact and so it’s important to develop alternatives that are healthier, more sustainable and that people can enjoy.
We need new ways to produce food in abundance to remain food secure. Low-impact technology has the potential to produce mycoproteins and nature-identical proteins through precision fermentation; replacing eggs, dairy and meat with a fraction of the environmental impact.
In a world facing a climate crisis we need to find low carbon alternatives to the foods we consume. In environmental terms dairy and meat have on average carbon footprints that are three and twenty times greater respectively, than plant-based alternatives. (Carbon Trust and Our World in Data.)
The proportion of people in the UK who regularly consume plant-based alternative foods such as plant-based milk and meat replacements has nearly doubled in the last decade according to a UK study (Alae- Carew 2021.)
What needs to happen?
The Vegetarian Society has a significant role to play in ensuring alternatives to dairy, eggs and meat remain ethical, safe and good for health. By holding food industry to account and supporting the development of regulatory frameworks that advance sustainable food production, we can champion the consumer perspective as technological solutions develop.
As an organisation we believe that developments in fortification and the intrinsic nutritional value of meat and dairy alternatives are ever evolving and that the consumer needs and expectations must be top priority for this growing sector.
What is the Vegetarian Society doing?
We are calling for industry-wide focus on the health and sustainability profiles of meat and dairy alternatives. We are a member of the UK Plant-Based Foods Alliance where we take an active role in calling for healthy formulations of products across the UK meat and dairy alternative sector. We are working with technical committees at a national and global level to advocate for clean label approaches in product development and the rationalisation of fortification in plant-milks and other dairy alternatives. We aim to highlight and encourage replication of best-practice in the development of new plant-protein products and we support the development of regulation of novel proteins. We also work to encourage and expand the range of meat and dairy alternatives used in public sector catering through our outward-facing campaigns, because wider use of healthy, low carbon alternatives to meat and dairy can help the public sector meet their sustainability targets and healthy eating catering goals.
We intend to commission research aimed at exploring the health and sustainability benefits of alternatives and the untapped potential in novel proteins, precision processes and micro-technologies that would expand and improve the range of alternative products available.