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In its current issue, the Stiftung Warentest evaluates vegetarian and vegetable sausage and meat alternatives. Six out of 20 products received the overall rating of 'good'. The VEBU (Vegetarian Association of Germany) explains why the veggie sausage protects the climate and is always the better alternative to beef salami and minced pork.
“The VEBU is pleased that the Stiftung Warentest is devoting its current issue to the increasingly important meat and sausage alternatives. After all, ten percent of people in Germany now live vegetarian, almost a million live vegan and more than half of the population are so-called flexitarians. As with every test, the results are partly pleasant, partly less pleasant. We are convinced that this is an incentive for food producers to expand the range of vegetarian and vegan alternatives and to continuously improve the quality. From our perspective, it would be desirable to include the environmental and climate aspects in the assessment of the products in future tests, ”says Sebastian Joy, Managing Director of VEBU (Vegetarians' Association Germany). Vegetarian and vegan schnitzel, meatball and bratwurst alternatives were tested.
Test neglects climate-relevant aspects
“We find it good to show manufacturers the potential for improvement in their products. It is not a good thing to ignore the many advantages of these products when evaluating them. In our view, a judgment that is too one-sided falls short. It does not take sufficient account of the catastrophic consequences for the climate, the environment and animals when consuming similar products from dead animals if these were compared directly. In addition to the health, taste and sensory evaluation criteria that the Stiftung Warentest uses, other aspects should also play a role in the overall assessment, ”demands Joy.
Comparison of resource consumption for the production of food
The production of one kilogram of beef can consume up to 15,500 liters of water. That is as much as a person living in Germany takes an average of one year to shower. The production of vegetable meat and sausage alternatives requires much less water. The competition between 'trough and plate' is carried out at the expense of many people in poorer regions. Animal and feed production favors the unfair distribution of food and thus exacerbates world hunger. The vast majority of ‘farm animals’ are fed large amounts of concentrated feed from cereals and oil crops such as soybeans and rapeseed. Only 43 percent of the world's grain harvest is used directly as food. In the EU it is only a quarter. In many cases, wheat and other cereals could be used directly for human consumption, including for the production of vegetable meat and sausage alternatives.
Greenhouse gas pollution from animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the main cause of climate-relevant emissions in the agricultural sector. Globally, it is responsible for 14.5 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Animal husbandry therefore emits more than the entire transport sector. A study commissioned jointly by VEBU and Greenpeace Austria shows that the greenhouse gases emitted by meat consumption are reduced by 95 percent if meat alternatives are used instead. “So choosing veggie meat is definitely the better choice,” says Joy.
Every form of nutrition should be balanced and varied. For vegetarian and vegan people as well as for flexitarians, meat-free and purely plant-based products such as meat and sausage alternatives offer a good variety on the menu, which, however, should mainly consist of fruits and vegetables as well as legumes and whole grain cereal products. Little processed foods are always healthier than those that have been heavily processed. Soy sausages, side schnitzel and Tempehburger offer a variety on the plate, which the VEBU welcomes. "Companies are called on to produce products that are as natural as possible, that offer good taste and are healthy," Joy recommends.
Veggie offer is growing
Consumers are increasingly critical and well informed. They want healthy alternatives. Around eight million vegetarians currently live in Germany, or 10 percent of the population, and the trend is rising. Around 900,000 of them live vegan. A representative survey also concluded that 42 million part-time vegetarians or flexitarians live in Germany, i.e. they do not eat meat three or more days a week. These numbers are of considerable importance for the economy in Germany. This reacts and offers an ever wider range of vegetable and vegetarian alternatives. The vegan product variety will increase in the next few years. According to a market analysis by the Institute for Trade Research (IFH) Cologne, sales of 454 million euros were achieved in 2015 with vegetarian and vegan products.
Give manufacturers opportunities to develop their products further
“The products are still very new on the market compared to the period since sausage and meat made from dead animal ingredients. The manufacturers are therefore in a constant process of adapting the products to the requirements of the consumers, further developing and improving them. The variety of raw materials from which the sausage and meat alternatives are made will increase in the next few years. Products are increasingly being made from pea protein, lupine-based or from domestic soybeans. The possibilities that product developers now have are many.