A Sainsbury’s executive has admitted that vegan foods could be less healthy than the meats they are designed to replace.
It comes as a Deliveroo poll showed 20 per cent of people could opt for a meat-free Christmas meal this year.
Sainsbury’s chief marketing officer Mark Given said: “We do worry about some of the salt and fat content in some of the alternatives that are out there.
“You’ve got to be really careful of trade-offs in this space.
“That’s something, with our suppliers, we’re working very carefully to balance.”
According to The Telegraph, Sainsbury’s is one of five grocers to announce that it will halve its environmental impact by 2030.
The WWF will assess them on goals which include selling 50 per cent of their protein products from plant-based sources.
However, Given said that Sainsbury’s was “a very, very long way” from reaching this threshold.
Recent data shows that plant-based foods make up just a tenth of its protein sales.
Campaign group Action on Salt has warned that vegan products can be twice as salty and more processed than meat.
A study this year found that vegetarian and vegan burgers tended to have lower fat levels than red meat burgers, but were much fattier than fish or poultry alternatives.
Most also contained more sugar and less protein.
Speaking at Cop26, Elisabeth Costa of the government’s “Nudge Unit” said it was “time to have a serious conversation” about taxing foods bad for the environment.
“We should design something that has the objective of driving innovation and sustainable practices on behalf of farmers… that makes it easier for consumers to consume low carbon and low methane options,” she argued.
A paper drawn up by the unit last month suggested taxing red meat to “help everyone eat more sustainably”.
“Effort to win hearts and minds may be better spent building public support for bold policy, such as a producer-facing carbon tax on ruminant products,” it read.
The proposals were later deleted from the government’s website.
A business department source said there were “no plans whatsoever to dictate consumer behaviour in this way”.