Impact on gut health
During the study, participants demonstrated an increased fibre intake of 19g on average per week.
This high fibre content, along with some other aspects of the products’ nutritional profiles, are likely to have been the main cause of the increased butyrate production.
Any positive impact was likely due to the products’ nutritional profile, particularly the fibre content, which helps to product the butyrate.
The study also found a decrease in the potentially harmful Tenericutes bacteria, indicating that consuming meat alternatives can lead to holistic changes within the gut microbiobial ecosystem.
Other positive effects reported by participants included improved stool consistency, and more regular bowel movements.
However, more than half reported increased gas and bloating as a result of the change in diet. This was the most commonly reported negative side effect.
Other positive effects reported by participants were improved stool consistency and more regular bowel movements.
Nutritional profiles of vegan meat
Although vegan sausages and burgers are often called out as being “highly processed” by consumers, the finished products still manage to maintain their ingredients high vegetable protein, fibre, and phenolic compound contents to the benefit of consumers.
While some plant-based meat alternatives may be classified as ultra-processed, the industrial processing of plant-based ingredients does not make vegan meats ultra-processed by default.
Instead, plant-based meats should be assessed on a product-by-product basis, as the study’s researchers argue that the potential for a processed plant-based meat product to promote negative changes in the gut lies in the nutrient profiles of its individual ingredients.
Because there was a lack of literature from trials on the quality of plant-based meats compared to conventional animal-based products on the microbiome of consumers, this study aimed to fill a knowledge gap in the intersection of nutrition, microbiology, and consumer behaviour.
Despite a small sample size, the research has given strong enough results for further study to continue to test the potential benefits of plant-based meats.
Read more about keeping your gut happy and healthy on a vegan diet.