Plant-based dairy alternative sales have doubled in France over a short period of time with consumers stating environmental and health reasons as their core motivators.
Using an optimisation diet model, the authors investigated the impact of including plant-based dairy alternatives within a French diet that was optimised for nutritional quality and environmental impact.
This optimisation study adjusted current eating habits of a representative sample of French adults to meet nutritional recommendations and reduce the carbon footprint by 30%. The team aimed to minimise the changes from current eating habits to the more sustainable diet in order to optimise acceptability.
Optimised diets were higher in fruit and vegetables and wholegrains, whilst being lower in animal proteins (in particular meat and poultry) and lower in HFSS. The dairy and alternatives food group overall quantity remained constant, but changes were made to the individual foods within the group – cheese was reduced and plant-based dairy like products (PBDL) were introduced to some optimised diets. PBDL were introduced into 56% of subjects optimised diets compared to just 7.3% in the original diets. Dairy milk and yogurt quantities remained constant.
Diets containing PBDL were lower in energy density and produced a more favourable nutrition profile.
The interesting aspect of this study is that both dairy and plant-based alternatives can continue to be consumed within a diet that is sustainable for both human and planetary health.
Gazan R, Vieux F, Lluch A, et al. Individual diet optimization in French adults shows that plant-based “dairy-like” products may complement dairy in sustainable diets. Sustainability. 2022;14:2817. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052817