Some people refrain from eating meat and animal products in all their manifestations, others do not like to eat them and are trying to look for alternatives to them. But are alternatives to meat really healthy?
Meat alternatives offer a vegan alternative to animal protein, which can make vegan eating easier for some, but getting enough complete protein is often the reason people dismiss the idea of a plant-based diet.
There are many myths that without animal protein it is impossible to build and maintain muscle mass, or you will not be able to achieve your peak athletic performance. While there are excellent plant sources of protein such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, meat alternatives provide a complete protein source that contains all nine essential amino acids we need, which is another reason many people choose a meat alternative. .
“Yes, meat substitutes can often provide the same benefit, especially those that are high in protein,” says nutritionist Dr. Federica Amati. “It’s worth noting that plants also contain complete proteins, so meat substitutes are not needed if we were animal protein with a variety of vegetable proteins at every meal.
What is in meat substitutes?
Meat substitutes contain various ingredients to impart a meaty texture or flavor. The most common ingredients include:
Textured vegetable protein, mainly pea protein Legume-based protein, often soy or lentil protein Seitan, a protein derived from the wheat “gluten” protein Protein based on the fungus Fusarium venenatum, a glucose-fermented single-celled fungus Yeast extract, used as a flavoring agent that imparts tastes like meat, but some meat substitutes are smoky or charred. Often used as a colorant, beetroot juice is fortified with nutrients. Many meat substitutes contain vitamin B12 and iron, which meat eaters often get from animal sources.
What are the pros and cons of meat alternatives?
Cut down on red meat
Research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine has shown that reducing red meat consumption can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase life expectancy.
Some meat alternatives, such as mushroom proteins, usually take up little space to produce, compared to the land used to raise livestock and the land used to produce feed for them, their production has a lower environmental impact.
Meat substitutes are generally highly processed for meaty texture and flavor, however some meats, including sausage and bacon, can also be heavily processed, so this is not necessarily limited to meat substitutes.
Less friendly to food intolerances
If you cannot process soybeans or wheat, you may find it difficult to find meat substitutes that suit your needs.
Are meat substitutes healthy?
Meat alternatives can be a convenient source of protein for those on a plant-based diet.
“There are three main classes of meat substitutes: those that are made using whole legumes and beans to make meat products (like bean burgers) and those that use vegetable protein extracts to make meat products (like pea protein sausages and mushroom-based ground beef), says Amati. And finally, the latest innovations in lab-grown meat and synthetic meats that are technically non-vegetarian because they contain animal cells.”
Meat alternatives are often fortified with vitamin B12, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients. It’s a nutrient that we usually get from animal sources because we can’t make it in our bodies. If you rely on plant sources of protein, you may need to add vitamin B12 to your diet.
Source: Living Science