Have you heard about plant-based meat?

Aakriti

17th Oct'22
Have you heard about plant-based meat? | OpenGrowth

The availability of plant-based meat has made it possible for all vegetarians to satisfy their appetites for meat without deviating from their vegan- and cruelty-free diet.

 

As consumer awareness of climate change and animal cruelty grows, more people are choosing vegan meat, which has all the flavors of the meat but none of the negative attributes. Since celebrities began endorsing and promoting veganism and alternatives for non-vegetarians, vegan meat has become very popular. Additionally, because phenomena like "Veganuary have promoted vegetarianism," vegan meat has emerged as the ideal way for non-vegetarians to convert their diets gradually.

 picture of vegan meat

 

Whether you're thinking about cutting back on your meat consumption or giving it up altogether, the advantages are apparent: a lower risk of diseases and better health and well-being. Top reasons to go vegan, in other words, consuming less meat lowers the risk of:

  • Heart condition

  • Stroke

  • Obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • High triglycerides

  • Diabetes (type 2)

  • Numerous Cancers

 

Meat frequently contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, significantly affecting poor heart health. Additionally, processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli meat frequently contain too much sodium. Conversely, skinless poultry, fish, and lean meats can all be excellent protein sources.

 

You must be wondering, what is the healthiest alternative to meat?

 

One alternative can be a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, these vegan diets are not always healthy. Just be careful not to substitute many highly processed meat alternatives or "vegan junk food" for meat. The French fry diet, as they call it.

 

Including high-quality, nutrient-rich plant-based foods is the key. A recent study found that mainly consuming high-quality plant foods (such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts) was related to a decreased risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases than consuming mostly lower-quality plant foods (such as fruit juices, refined grains, potatoes, and sweets).

 

The researchers concluded that increasing the number of good plant foods you eat as an adult can help lower your risk, even if you've had a bad diet for half your life.

It requires some research to determine how to balance these benefits and drawbacks. Let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of processed meatless meats.

 

Pros of plant-based meats

Many processed ingredients go into making plant-based meats; they often taste very similar to meat and are healthier for the environment and animal welfare.

 

1. Impact on the Environment

Dr. David Katz, the director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, claims that "despite nuances, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that beef has an outsized carbon footprint relative to every alternative." "The environment benefits because beef substitutes are genuinely beef alternatives. The environmental impact column gives meat substitutes, especially highly processed ones, a significant overall advantage."

 

2. Welfare of animals

We may reasonably infer that these items are far kinder and gentler to our fellow beings than meat because plant-based meats are vegetarian or vegan.

 

However, there is at least one significant exception to this rule. The main ingredient in [the majority of plant-based meats] is soy, and industrial soy production displaces and disturbs rich ecosystems like the American Midwest and the Amazon rainforest. Therefore, although these products consistently spare domestic animals, the effects on wildlife are less clear. However, we can confidently provide meat substitutes a significant edge in the animal ethics department.

 

3. Flavour identical to meat

The fact that new plant-based meats taste remarkably like meat, which is precisely what producers aim for, is the third benefit. 68% of participants in a survey stated they would be willing to substitute meat for a plant-based substitute if it tasted the same as meat. In contrast, 47% of respondents to the same survey stated that they are hesitant to try plant-based meats because they believe they won't taste like meat. Huge strides have been achieved in this area to simulate the taste and texture of juicy, flavorful meat.

 

4. Better for heart health 

 

nutrition label

 

However, is a plant-based diet beneficial for you?

 

According to a recent small study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who substituted two or more portions of animal meat per day for plant-based meat for eight weeks experienced lower levels of TMAO (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) and LDL cholesterol. The study also found that consuming plant-based rather than animal meat increased fiber intake and reduced saturated fat intake. More and larger research is required to ascertain if these advantages would endure over time for someone who consumes a lot of processed plant-based meats.

 

Although plant-based foods still include some saturated fat, they generally have much lower levels than animal meat. In addition to having some fiber and a lot of protein, plant-based meats often have an equal amount of protein as meat from animals.

 

Cons of plant-based meats

Although plant-based meat has many advantages, you should be aware of some drawbacks as well:

 

1. Lack of overall nutrition 

  • Sometimes processed meatless meats have higher salt content than meat from animals.
  • They don't have the nutrients that meat made from animals has, but you can maintain your body's nutrient levels by taking health supplements.

  • Many packaged plant-based meat products have additives such as added sugar, processed oil, dextrose, or modified cornstarch that you might not want to eat.

  • Certain plant-based meats cost more than typical animal-based meats.

 

2. High in sodium 

In a 2019 study, the nutritional value of plant-based products was assessed and compared to that of their animal counterparts. Participants in the study, which was performed in Australia, sampled 50 hamburgers, 10 minced meat samples, 29 sausages, 24 chicken products, 9 fish products, and 15 meat substitutes from grocery stores.

 

Only 4% of the vegan dishes were less salty than their animal-based counterparts. Foods made from plants often had salt levels of less than 500 mg per 100 g. However, this significantly varied, with some products containing as much salt as 1,200 mg per 100 g or 3 g.

 

The study found that the salt content varied depending on the product type. The salt content of mince made from plants was about six times higher than that made from meat. In contrast, the salt content of meat sausages was 66% higher than that of plant-based sausages.


 

3. Processed Products Lose Plant Nutrients

 

inside of a food factory

 

Are plant-based meats considered processed?

The short answer is yes.

 

The elements that make whole plant foods so healthy for you, such as considerable amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fats, and polyphenols, are absent from plant-based meats due to their processed nature.

 

4. Controversial Ingredients

In some cases, plant-based meat substitutes have up to six times the sodium of animal foods. Some also have added sugars, artificial coloring, and contentious chemicals like carrageenan and methylcellulose, which are bulking agents.


 

5. Hefty prices 

Additionally, these goods might be rather pricey. Check the price and ensure you aren't giving up other healthy items by buying expensive mock meats. It is wise to manage your food budget based on the nutritional value you are getting from the food item.

 

How to select a vegan meat option for yourself?

What is the healthiest alternative to meat?

 Anyone who wants to experiment with a protein source other than animal products should consider plant-based meat. The key to a safe and healthy intake is in the foods you choose, even though this form of meat has its benefits and drawbacks. When choosing plant-based meat alternatives, remember to:

 

  • Verify the calorie count and nutritional value.

  • Check the ingredients to make sure it meets your requirements.

  • To understand the additives, carefully read the labels.

 

You can safely, healthily, and heartily eat plant-based meat by making the correct decisions. You can consult a doctor before beginning to eat plant-based meat alternatives to find out which meals or alternatives are best for you.


So did you figure out what the healthiest alternative to meat is?

I hope this was helpful next time when you go shopping. Keep these pros and cons in mind and make an informed decision rather than following a short-lived trend. Eat nutritious, healthy, and locally produced food for the best overall health benefits. 


 

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A student in more ways than one. Trying to feed her curiosity with news, philosophy, and social commentary. 

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