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Project Overview

The OMnivorous and Non-meat eater Integrative PhysioLogy and NutriTion (OMNIPLaNT) Study is a research project started in July 2020 and currently underway at the A-STEM research centre, Swansea University. The research team is comprised of national and international in nutrition, physiology, biology and athletic performance led by Dr Shane M Heffernan. The aim of the project is to build on, and add to, the currently available scientific and sociological evidence, to understand the impacts of plant-based dietary patterns on health and performance. The current focus is on arterial health (measured as vascular structure and function), skeletal muscle architecture and function, bone mineral density and exercise performance. Over the next number of years the OMNIPLaNT Study will recruit a large number of participants from a variety of backgrounds and dietary patterns to help answer a number of key questions surrounding the impact of habitual dietary pattern on nutrition adequacy, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health, and physical performance. In addition, we are working towards understanding the provision of plant-based food options in settings where providing these food options (i.e. ensuring adequate nutritional status) is of particular importance (social care and military settings). In these and other situations, understanding the experiences of individuals who choose alternative dietary patterns is important to improving acceptance and inclusion of individuals choosing these dietary patterns and the OMNIPLaNT team are working towards developing research studies to add peer-reviewed literature in this space. We, like many, are concerned with individuals environmental impact and intend to develop research projects and tools (one of which can be viewed below; The OMNIPLaNT Environmental Impact tool) to consider the impact food choices, as they related to different habitual diets.

To answer some of these questions, we use detailed dietary analysis, ultrasound and dual X-ray imaging to assess morphology, volume, architectural structure and composition of muscles, gaining insights into the physiology and functional capacity. We also use musculoskeletal ultrasound to indirectly estimate ‘fat accumulation’ inside muscle, in order to assess the potential impact on muscle quality. Given the cardiovascular health benefits linked to plant-based diets, and by extension physical and athletic performance, we also use these technologies to assess the brachial artery (upper arm) and carotid artery (neck) function and structure. Athletic performance is important to a number of occupational settings and we use advanced breath-by-breath gas analysis and cardiac measures to assess aerobic capacity and tolerance to altered environmental conditions. Working with colleagues in the Swansea University Medical School and the Physics Department we use basic and advanced technologies to investigate blood derived markers associated with the above. The application of these scientific tools and techniques will allow us, in time, to provide robust evidence to the scientific literature, and beyond, on the health implications of adopting particular dietary patterns.

Our online study is live for anyone to complete and is comprised of two questionnaires (~20 mins to complete) aimed at gaining an initial insight into participants dietary constituents and eating behaviours of different dietary patterns.

The first OMNIPLaNT Questionnaire can be accessed at: or by scanning the QR code here:

Excitingly we are also recruiting for our in person studies taking place at the A-STEM laboratories on the Bay Campus, Swansea. If you would like more information about these studies and potentially coming to the lab, get in touch at our study email address ( or click the link below and leave your contact details with us: or by scanning the QR code here:

To keep up to date with our findings, follow us on Twitter @omniplantres


OMNIPLaNT 3-day weighed food diary: instructions for participants

To get an accurate picture of dietary intake, participants are provided with a set of sensitive weighing scales and are instructed to record all food and drink consumed over two weekdays and one weekend day in a hard copy food diary. Subsequently, the diaries are analysed using advanced dietary analysis software to create reports, which are used to collect macro and micronutrient intakes over the specified period. This video describes the protocol.

Dietary pattern environmental impact calculator

The OMNIPLaNT Environmental Impact tool was developed by our team using publicly available data compiled and published as a supplementary file alongside a highly respected peer-reviewed meta-analysis investigating the environmental impact of agriculture and the mitigation potential via both producer and consumer pathways (Poore & Nemecek, 2018). The OMNIPLaNT Environmental Tool compares the environmental impact of different dietary patterns by multiplying a quantity of each product consumed by the estimates for each environmental parameter. Users are simply required to input a quantity for each food or drink product into the dashboard. This tool is being made available for personal interest use only, not for commercial or research purposes outside of OMNIPLaNT authorised work. If you use or mention this too, please cite by referencing this webpage.

The OMNIPLaNT Environmental Tool

Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), 987-992. 

Fruit bowl and scales
Body scans