Globally plant-based foods are becoming increasingly popular. There are many different approaches for plant-based eating, including vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. Flexitarianism is a recent trend that focuses on increasing the consumption of plant-based food while simultaneously reducing meat intake.
Like many lifestyle choices, there are different reasons for people to choose a plant-based diet, including dietary intolerances, general well-being, animal welfare, sustainability and climate change.
According to recent studies conducted by Nestlé Research scientists in partnership with academics from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, a significant improvement in metabolic health indicators such as cholesterol, blood lipids and glucose tolerance can be seen within 48 hours of consuming a vegan diet. This can be attributed to the fact that vegan diets can be healthy with the appropriate selection of foods that adequately meet recommended nutritional requirements, in addition to being naturally high in dietary fibers, which are beneficial for glucose and lipid control.
To improve the understanding of the health impact of different types of diets, the studies further looked at the differences of several metabolic health indicators such as blood glucose (postprandial response), insulin, lipids and amino acids following the consumption of vegan, vegetarian and animal-based meals. These results showed that the levels of macro and micronutrients in each meal were more important than the type of diet eaten.
The authors suggest modification of the vegan diet to vegetarian could improve some health indicators. Similarly, modification of the animal-based diet to include vegetarian or vegan components could also improve health. These findings suggest that a flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet could be most beneficial to health, as it can combine all of the nutritional benefits offered from vegan, vegetarian or animal-based diets.
At Nestlé, we are adding more innovative, healthy plant-based products to our portfolio in response to the increased consumer demand. In Europe, we launched the Garden Gourmet range, which offers consumers seeking a flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, alternatives to meat such as the vegan filet pieces.
We are accelerating new product launches across our portfolio through our well-known brands like the Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss non-dairy creamers and Nesfit plant-based smoothies.
Lastly, we are also investing in new brands such as Terrafertil and Sweet Earth, which have widened our natural, organic and plant-based offerings in Latin America, the United States and the United Kingdom.
For more information on our plant-based innovations see:
Our stories: Meatless meals
For more information on the research studies see:
Draper et al., Vegan and animal meal composition and timing influence glucose and lipid related postprandial metabolic profiles. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2019).
Wei et al., Metabotypes related to meat and vegetable intake reflect microbial, lipid and amino acid metabolism in healthy people. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2018).
Draper et al., A 48-hour vegan diet challenge in healthy women and men induces a branch-chain amino acid related, health associated, metabolic signature. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2017).