Are Plant-based Meat Alternatives a Better Choice? Comparing the Consumer Perceptions, Among Other Factors of Plant-based Meat Alternatives Against Animal Origin Products

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Perez, Joseph de Andrade
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Meat consumption is a substantial contributor to the damaging impacts that are caused to the environment. Alternatives to meat that are derived from plants have been on the market for some time and can now be found with relative ease at supermarkets in Ireland. This study was conducted with the intention of identifying the Irish population’s perceptions and attitudes around eating meat substitutes and their likelihood of switching or using them in the future. The rationale around this research was due to the fact that the consumption of such plant-based meat alternatives is now fairly low in the Irish population and globally in general.

In order to accomplish these goals, an online survey of Irish consumers (N = 136) was carried out to examine the lifestyles of customers and their opinions about plant-based meat alternatives in terms of consumption, environmental impact, processing, and nutritional value. A tasting session was performed to determine the organoleptic differences between the various products in order to provide additional findings regarding the preference of consumers for traditionally produced meat products over plant-based alternatives to traditional meat products.

The findings suggest that despite meat's reputation for having favourable organoleptic qualities such as its look, texture, taste, and smell, this association is not entirely justified. Traditional meat products have a worse reputation when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility and sustainability. This would imply that replacement needs to have comparable favourable organoleptic characteristics, but also provide a good healthy product.

In point of fact, plant-based alternatives to meat were thought to be more environmentally friendly, and also an opportunity to provide a healthier option to meat if the nutritional qualities were found to be favourable. When it came to promoting this plant-based product on shelves, naming was a significant element. Instead of linking to meat names, the customer preferred clarity when calling the product, such as soy-based burger instead than beefless burger. In conclusion, the findings of this study indicate that alternatives to meat have the greatest potential to successfully displace meat when, in terms of both taste and texture, they are most similar to highly processed meat products and when they are sold at prices that are comparable to those of meat.

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