Soy meat substitutes such as tofu have a worse impact on global warming than the consumption of lamb, pork or chicken, according to researchers and scientists who presented their findings at a British National Farmers’ Union conference on Tuesday.
A vegetarian diet is also harmful to health, leads to higher emissions in farm production, and contributes to the destruction of the global ecosystems, said the researchers at the conference in London.
The results of the research appear to refute the research of other scientists who claim the opposite.
According to Graham McAuliffe of the Rothamsted Institute, researchers usually do not take into account the fact that it is more difficult for the human body to process plant-based proteins, which means that people have to eat more.
From this point of view, the research suggests that to receive the same amount of protein from the tofu as from meat, one has to eat more of the soy substitute, which leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
However, McAuliffe added that the results of his research should be interpreted with caution.
“Without a doubt, peas and ground nuts always have a lower environmental impact than any livestock products. But if you look at tofu, which is processed, so there is more energy going into its production, when you correct for the fact that the protein in it is not as digestible compared to the meat-based products, you can see that it could actually have a higher global warming potential than any of the monogastric animals. To get the same amount of protein, tofu is worse,” he explained.
Soybeans and other products that vegans tend to gravitate to, such as palm oil, are also linked with deforestation and massive mono-culture planting, which is said to deplete soil nutrients and contribute to climate change.
According to Minette Batters, president of the British National Farmers’ Union, campaigns against meat consumption are more of a problem than Brexit.
Dairy farmers alone saw their profits decline 50 percent in just one year, largely influenced by the shift towards plant-based drinks.
“The vegan way of life has been enormously detrimental to farmers’ mental health. We want people to get involved more than just by eating vegan food,” she said at the conference, adding that people equate eating vegan food to fighting climate change.
Furthermore, researchers point out that vegan versions of unhealthy foods such as fish fingers, sausages, bacon, or burgers can be far more harmful to health than the meat versions. According to the BBC, these processed substitutes often contain higher levels of salt or sugar in addition to more indigestible substances.
There are also worries that children are not getting access to essential fatty acids and other nutritional benefits only found in animal products such as meat.
The Times in the UK has also compared the quality of vegan food and real meat, with certain foods, such as vegan imitations of eggs or bacon, having far higher levels of salt.