Plant-based diet boosts personal health and is good for the planet, Unilever research finds

UK – Plant-based diet increases vitamin and nutrient intake while lowering food production’s impact on the climate, a new study by Unilever has determined.  

The finding was based on 141 studies on the effects of plant-based diets, conducted between 2000 and 2020.  

According to the UK-based multinational consumer goods company, the chief takeaway is that plant-based food, and a transition towards it, should be a global priority.  

Unilever further suggests that public health authorities need to use the information proactively and put in place strategies to point people towards plant-based diets. 

Although beneficial to human health, the studies found that gaps in consumer knowledge were revealed as being stumbling blocks to balanced and beneficial diets. 

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Unilever’s research showed that all diets, whether plant-based or omnivorous, have shortcomings.  

All diets studied proved to have nutritional deficiencies of some kind making it necessary to make consumer education priority.  

People need to understand how to supplement and support their own nutrition. With a fully plant-based diet, for example, B12 intake is a concern.  

A previous study conducted by YouGov and backed by Arla revealed that 66 percent of consumers in the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, and Germany do not think about nutrition as part of a sustainable diet. NutritionInsight highlighted the issue of “nutrition blindness”. 

“Both the F&B industry and public health bodies have an important role to play in helping consumers transition to a more nutritionally adequate diet,” Ans Eilander, lead scientist and study author for Unilever said in an interview.

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“It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all.” 

Towards this end, Unilever has set a $1 billion sales target for its plant-based ranges which it hopes will be achieved by 2025-2027.  

The target is part of the company’s “Future Foods” initiative and has been designed to help consumers make an easy and seamless transition towards more plant-based foods, while enjoying the brands they love.  

As such, numerous vegan and vegan-friendly brands such as Vegetarian Butcher have been acquired by the UK company while existing brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Magnum, and Wall’s have been onboarded.  

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