Over the last few years, the popularity of vegan meat has exploded, making it widely available in forms such as mincemeat, burgers, hot dogs, ‘bacon’ and even deli slices. Meatless substitutes can be used in the same ways as meat and many of them are so delicious that those who aren’t vegan, or vegetarian will also be happy to eat them.
Alternative meats have exploded in popularity as people have become more aware of meat’s adverse effects on the environment and overall wellness. However, despite their appeal, there may be concerns about whether plant-based meat replacements are healthy. You can also adopt vegan leather in your life by opting for vegan leather clothing brands.
What is Vegan meat?
Meat substitutes derived from plants are known as plant-based meat. These products look, feel, and taste like traditional meat. As the trend gains traction, these vegetable-based substitutes are joining the meat market and upending everything we think we know about vegetarian foods.
Vegetable protein, vital wheat gluten, coconut oil, beans, soy, beet juice extract, and rice, are among the most popular added ingredients. Plant-based meats also include many complete foods, such as vegetables and spices which can increase the cost of the product.
Is plant-based meat healthy and nutritious?
Most plant-based foods are equivalent in calories to conventional meats. The key distinctions are that plant-based meats are cholesterol-free, have a greater salt content, and include a small amount of fibre. Plant-based meat, on the other hand, is superior in two ways. Firstly, it helps us lower our red meat consumption, which is already excessive, with the average American consuming 2.4 burgers per day. Secondly, plant-based alternatives are more environmentally friendly, more sustainable, and better for our earth and animals. Sodium levels in plant-based meat are higher, mainly to make it more palatable and shelf-stable. Excess sodium can have negative health consequences, such as high blood pressure and stroke.
Plant-based meats are also heavily processed and contain less than healthy components like refined coconut oil and modified food starch. According to the National Institutes of Health, processed foods encourage consumers to consume an extra 500 calories each day, causing them to gain weight. Plant-based meats can be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation and only a few times per week, and they should not be the exclusive source of protein.
Types of plant-based meats
Vegetarian options are abundant in the plant-based market. Here is an outline of the most popular products.
Soy is a legume that was one of the first plant-based meat substitutes. Soy-based foods have a moderate flavour and a vary in texture, making them suitable for use in various classic meat-based cuisines.
Tofu is a spongy cake produced from soy and water that may be squeezed, diced, and fried. It can be cooked with vegetables and used in stir-fries or salads.
Often known as edamame, once cooked, they can be eaten as a snack, and are a delicious addition to stir-fries.
This is a long-block product made from fermented soybeans. Tempeh can be crushed and used in stews, tacos, or sloppy joes after being sliced into thin strips and stir-fried.
This crucial wheat gluten and plant-based meat alternative has a savoury flavour and chewy texture, making it a great addition to stir-fries, sandwiches, stews, and pasta dishes. Seitan is a high protein product in terms of nutrition. Iron, calcium, and potassium are usually present in tiny levels.
This huge tropical fruit is native to Asia, Africa, and parts of South America. It features a thick, green, rough rind with edible seeds and a mushy, stringy inner flesh. Jackfruit flesh is frequently substituted for meat in recipes such as pulled pork due to its consistency and mild flavour. Compared to other plant-based meat alternatives, jackfruit is low in calories but lacks protein and fat. It does, however, contain some fibre and a minor amount of minerals, including iron, potassium, and calcium.
The Healthiest plant-based meat alternative
The healthiest plant-based meat substitutes are those that can be eaten in their natural state such as jackfruit and soy foods. It is best to include highly processed plant products less frequently in your diet. Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils can be substituted for meat in many recipes. Not only are they cheap to buy, but they’re also packed with nutrients and easy to include into homemade chilis, soups, stews, tacos, and salads.
Benefits of plant-based meat alternatives
Many people opt to consume plant-based meat replacements for a variety of personal reasons. Thus, some of the key benefits of doing so are subjective. Eating plants entails opposing industrialised animal agriculture and its negative consequences for animal welfare, the environment, and public health. Furthermore, some plant-based meats are free of elements that some individuals may want to avoid for heart health, for example, saturated fat and sodium. However, the amounts vary depending on the product.
Studies have connected a high intake of processed and red meats to an increased risk of cancer. At the same time, most Western diets are deficient in critical nutrients like fibre, which has been shown to lessen the risk of various chronic diseases. Since plants are the only natural sources of fibre, switching to a more whole-food-based, plant-centric diet is a simple approach to up your fibre intake while also increasing your vitamin, mineral, and compound intake, all of which are beneficial to your health.
Drawbacks of plant-based meat alternatives
Vegan meat substitutes may have various advantages, but they may also have some drawbacks to consider. Some highly processed meat alternatives have the same total and saturated fat content as their meat counterparts. The burgers include more sodium than a single beef patty, which may be harmful to one’s heart.
Furthermore, many marketed meat replacements contain substances such as processed oils, modified corn starch, or added sugar that some individuals may not want to ingest. Reading the ingredient list on any packaged plant-based meat substitute is the best approach to avoid any additives that cause you discomfort.
Today, there are an increasing number of plant-based meat alternatives. In comparison to animal meats, plant-based meats are a healthier option. While these replacement meats may appear to be a tasty source of protein to include in your daily diet, they are highly processed and heavy in sodium. They’re healthy for the ecosystem and provide some nutrients, so eating them in moderation is crucial. Another strategy to ensure you get enough protein and other critical nutrients is eating more whole-food, plant-based protein sources like quinoa or lentils.