Nutrition: the most promising meat alternatives

Is the flesh age coming to an end?

Never before has so much meat been eaten. The unrestrained desire for meat brings with it numerous problems. The meat industry is a driving force behind animal suffering, environmental degradation and poorly paid jobs. In a recent study, the Federal Environment Agency searched for the best meat alternatives and their acceptance among the population.

The Institute for Innovation and Technology, together with adelphi consult and the Ecologic Institute on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency, examined the best alternatives to today's meat consumption. The results of the study "The future in view: meat of the future" can be viewed on the website of the Federal Environment Agency.

Meat is paid for with blood

Offers where you can get a kilogram of pork for less than four euros are not uncommon. Meat is an elaborate product that requires a lot of space and resources to manufacture. In order to maintain today's prevailing prices, animals, the environment and employees in the meat industry must suffer. In addition, high meat consumption, especially of red and processed meat, is considered unhealthy. Alternatives for excessive meat consumption are urgently needed.

What are the most promising meat alternatives?

In order to find and promote suitable alternatives, the Federal Environment Agency commissioned a study in which the meat alternatives with the best acceptance should be identified. Plant-based substitute products, edible insects and in vitro meat, i.e. meat grown in the laboratory and not growing in animals, were examined. Can such products change the food system?

Vegetable meat alternatives enjoy a high level of acceptance

"We were able to show that meat alternatives are already being successfully offered on the market," reports Tobias Jetzke from the study team. Currently, products made from vegetable raw materials are mainly used as meat substitutes. These products are already well integrated, achieve a high level of meat imitation and are becoming increasingly popular.

Insects can replace meat

In addition, products made from edible insects have a high potential to replace meat. In many countries, insects have always been part of the menu. In Germany, however, there are major fears of contact that must first be overcome.

What is in vitro meat?

Meat that is cultivated in the laboratory without an animal is called in vitro meat. The basis is provided by stem cells from muscle tissue that divide in a nutrient solution and mature into muscle fibers. These muscles are stimulated by electrical impulses and thus stimulated to grow. This creates muscle meat without the need for an animal, apart from the stem cells. Since this process is not yet suitable for mass production, there is little experience of acceptance among the population. According to the research group, however, skepticism can be expected here.

Meat alternatives are more environmentally and animal friendly

"Compared to conventional meat, fewer greenhouse gases are emitted during the production of plant-based and insect-based substitute products, and water and land consumption are also lower," emphasize the researchers. However, many reservations in the population would have to be reduced before such alternatives actually make a big difference.

High meat consumption primarily due to culture

"Meat substitutes made from plants, insects and in vitro meat can be an important bridge function in reducing meat consumption and make it easier to change culturally grown eating habits," Jetzke sums up. Meat substitutes can pave the way for a low-meat diet, even if they are not an essential part of an environmentally conscious and healthy diet. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Federal Environment Agency: The future in view: Meat of the future (published June 2020),

Video: 10 Best PLANTS to Replace Meat Vegan. Joanna Soh (July 2021).