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Article

Impact of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives on the Gut Microbiota of Consumers: A Real-World Study

1
School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London SE1 0AA, UK
2
School of Health and Education, Middlesex University, London SE1 0AA, UK
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Center for Precision Genome Editing and Genetic Technologies for Biomedicine, Institute of Gene Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119334 Moscow, Russia
4
Research and Development Department, Knomics LLC, Skolkovo Innovation Center, 121205 Moscow, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Hanne Christine Bertram
Foods 2021, 10(9), 2040; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092040
Received: 5 August 2021 / Revised: 24 August 2021 / Accepted: 25 August 2021 / Published: 30 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Foods)
Eating less meat is increasingly seen as a healthier, more ethical option. This is leading to growing numbers of flexitarian consumers looking for plant-based meat alternatives (PBMAs) to replace at least some of the animal meat they consume. Popular PBMA products amongst flexitarians, including plant-based mince, burgers, sausages and meatballs, are often perceived as low-quality, ultra-processed foods. However, we argue that the mere industrial processing of ingredients of plant origin does not make a PBMA product ultra-processed by default. To test our hypothesis, we conducted a randomised controlled trial to assess the changes to the gut microbiota of a group of 20 participants who replaced several meat-containing meals per week with meals cooked with PBMA products and compared these changes to those experienced by a size-matched control. Stool samples were subjected to 16S rRNA sequencing. The resulting raw data was analysed in a compositionality-aware manner, using a range of innovative bioinformatic methods. Noteworthy changes included an increase in butyrate metabolising potential—chiefly in the 4-aminobutyrate/succinate and glutarate pathways—and in the joint abundance of butyrate-producing taxa in the intervention group compared to control. We also observed a decrease in the Tenericutes phylum in the intervention group and an increase in the control group. Based on our findings, we concluded that the occasional replacement of animal meat with PBMA products seen in flexitarian dietary patterns can promote positive changes in the gut microbiome of consumers. View Full-Text
Keywords: gut microbiome; gut microbiota; plant-based meat alternatives; flexitarian; flexitarianism; plant-based diets; meat alternatives; meat substitutes; plant protein; ultra-processed foods gut microbiome; gut microbiota; plant-based meat alternatives; flexitarian; flexitarianism; plant-based diets; meat alternatives; meat substitutes; plant protein; ultra-processed foods
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MDPI and ACS Style

Toribio-Mateas, M.A.; Bester, A.; Klimenko, N. Impact of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives on the Gut Microbiota of Consumers: A Real-World Study. Foods 2021, 10, 2040. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092040

AMA Style

Toribio-Mateas MA, Bester A, Klimenko N. Impact of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives on the Gut Microbiota of Consumers: A Real-World Study. Foods. 2021; 10(9):2040. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092040

Chicago/Turabian Style

Toribio-Mateas, Miguel A., Adri Bester, and Natalia Klimenko. 2021. "Impact of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives on the Gut Microbiota of Consumers: A Real-World Study" Foods 10, no. 9: 2040. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092040

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