It’s hard not to pay attention to the rise of alternative meat and dairy products after witnessing the market response to Beyond Meat’s 2019 initial public offering, which saw a 163 percent surge upon trading and the biggest gain for any large U.S. IPO since 2000. More recently, Oatly’s IPO fetched an initial valuation of $10 billion in May.

Driving market interest in these companies, consumer demand for more sustainable meat and dairy alternatives has soared.

Case in point: In March, Starbucks began offering oat milk as a dairy alternative, only to run out a month later due to high demand. In fact, it seems nearly every national restaurant chain has a plant-based alternative on its menu, whether it’s the Impossible Whopper at Burger King, the McPlant at McDonald's, the Impossible Slider at White Castle or the Non-Dairy Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen. Even one of the world’s most famous Michelin-starred restaurants, Eleven Madison Park, reopened its doors in New York after the pandemic with an entirely plant-based menu. The demand for alternative meat, dairy and other products is likely just beginning.

A 2019 study by DuPont Nutrition & Health found that 65 percent of global consumers are eating and drinking more plant-based foods and beverages, and many are doing so because of the reduced environmental impacts compared to traditional products. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of raising animals for human consumption. Global livestock accounts for 14.5 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is 10 to 50 times more than plant-based alternatives. Even the lowest-impact animal products are significantly more resource-intensive than the average vegetable protein.

The Good Food Institute found that plant-based meat uses between 47-97 percent less land, 72-98 percent less water and produces 30-90 percent less GHG emissions than traditional meat products. Meanwhile, alternative milk products have similarly lower environmental impacts when compared to traditional milk.

Read the full article about meat and dairy alternatives by Devon Bonney at GreenBiz.