The vegan meat scene has taken off like there’s no tomorrow, but how good is it really for your health?
In the last four years, the rise of vegans has reached an insane 400% high and continues to increase. It’s no wonder so many food and beverage companies want a piece of the action to appeal to this flourishing market. From brands such as Beyond meat to OmniPork, supermarkets like Tesco and Aldi, and fast food chains such as McDonalds and Burger King, vegans have never had more options to choose from.
Why go vegan?
This peak in veganism is due to a myriad of reasons, ranging from climate change to health and disease amongst others. Research has demonstrated that a diet rich in plant foods is indeed beneficial to your health so it makes sense to cut some of the meat out and bulk up on the fruit and vegetables. Many investigations into intensive farming within the meat and dairy industry have shown that their practices are not short of poor animal welfare and also have a huge environmental impact. These concerns are indeed justified reasons for changing our lifestyles and diets.
To cater for the vegan market, new startups and existing companies in the F&B (food and beverage) industry have worked to create products that imitate animal-sourced meat and they’re pretty impressive too. Taste, texture and appearance – the vegan meats have it all. However, just because these meat alternatives are animal-free, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy.
Is vegan meat good or bad?
Just like anything in this world, vegan meat has its pros and cons.
What is vegan meat made of?
Different plant-based protein companies use different types of proteins to make their products. The main types are usually:
- Pea protein
- Soy protein
- Mushroom protein
- Vital wheat gluten
These may or may not be combined with other proteins sourced from rice, mung beans or mushroom with a list that continues to extend beyond this one.
Vegan meat disadvantages
- Many of the vegan foods served in fast food restaurants will have been cooked using the same methods as their standard menu items, meaning deep fried and energy-dense.
- Additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) may have been added to some items (though research on this substance shows some conflicting results – rest assured, it has no nutritional benefit).
- Many resemble the fatty texture and taste of regular meat because of the higher fat content, particularly those that imitate pork or burgers for example. Usually a solid saturated fat will have been added to achieve this.
- They are usually heavily processed, which takes them further away from being a whole-food. This is usually the stage at which foods contain a decent amount of vitamins and minerals but processing removes many of these. They may or may not be fortified following specific processing steps to add the lost nutrients back to the final product.
- Many mass-made products will have been produced in factories that may process items that contain foods such as nuts or gluten, which some people may be allergic or intolerant to (though this will usually be written on the label).
- Products sourced from soy are often made from soybeans that have been genetically modified unless otherwise stated. For those of you who are trying to avoid GM foods, it may be helpful for you to be aware of this.
Vegan meat advantages
- They taste great and offer such an extensive range of different types of meat, such as chicken, beef or pork.
- Vegan meats are ideal for those who are transitioning from a carnivorous diet to a plant-based or vegan one.
- For sure, they make eating out more fun and exciting, whether it be brunch with friends, a date night or simply dinner at your local pub.
- They make a vegan diet more appealing to those who regularly eat meat, potentially swaying meat-eaters to leave meat behind and adopt a vegan, vegetarian or plant-based diet.
- The vegan meat alternatives are rich sources of protein and some even contain the entire nine essential amino acids which the body requires since we are not capable of making these.
Vegan Meat Brands
A non-extensive list of some of the most popular vegan meat brands (there are many more than this and new ones continue to emerge):
- Beyond Meat
- The Vegetarian Butcher
- Linda McCartney
These are great options to consider when cooking at home (or eating out) and are now accessible in most supermarkets:
- Seitan or vital wheat gluten (processed but usually contains no other ingredients)
- Nuts and seeds
As the famous saying goes, ‘eat in moderation’ – it exists for a reason. Whole foods and unprocessed foods are the ones your body requires the most, but we all need some excitement in our lives from time to time!
Vegan Protein Recipes
Save for Later
If you don’t have time to make any of these recipes now, click on any image on this page to add it to your Pinterest list. Fancy more inspo? Come see me on Pinterest for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert ideas.
Posts sent with Love
Watch this space for new posts related to vegan health and food. Even better, keep up to date with posts effortlessly just by signing up. You would also get a free e-book, bonus!