Are Vegan Meat Substitutes Made from Plant-Based Protein Healthy?

Vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes should look and taste like the original. Many consider him healthy. It often contains a lot of sugar, fat, salt – and also questionable additives.

Meat substitutes made from tofu or seitan (pure gluten-free protein without bran and starch) are trendy. In fact, seitan and soy contain almost as much protein as meat, but unprocessed they contain hardly any fat and no uric acid. However, the healthy content of soy and wheat, such as vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, is extracted during protein production.

Manufacturers often use a lot of sugar, fat, and salt for a more intense taste and thus negate the advantages of plant-based protein sources. Plant-based minced meat alternatives from the supermarket shelf often contain rather questionable additives such as acidity regulators, smoke flavoring, and a lot of salt and fat.

Tofu, seitan, and peas: Vegetable protein instead of meat

Many vegetarian substitutes for meat and sausage are vegan and contain plant-based protein. As a rule, these are proteins from soy (tofu), peas, or wheat (seitan). They are isolated, i.e. extracted from the natural raw material, concentrated, and then rehydrated, i.e. shaped with water and oil. A few products are not vegan, but vegetarian and are made on the basis of chicken protein or milk.

Beware of allergies and food intolerances

However, consumers with a birch pollen allergy can experience allergic reactions when consuming soy products due to a cross-allergy. Anyone who has celiac disease or gluten intolerance cannot tolerate seitan either, because seitan is just another name for the wheat protein gluten.

Ingredients in vegan meat substitute products are often unhealthy

In order to produce a meat-like consistency and a hearty taste from the vegetable proteins with water and oil, many manufacturers use flavors and additives.

  • Meat substitutes often contain a lot of sugar, which in large quantities can lead to obesity and diabetes.
  • Many products contain up to two grams of salt per 100 grams and seasonings with flavor enhancers such as glutamate. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a maximum of six grams of salt a day.
  • The proportion of fat in meat substitutes is often 10 to 20 percent. The products are therefore not lower in fat than many conventional sausage and meat products.
  • Methyl cellulose is often used. The fiber is obtained from plant raw materials and used as a thickening agent. Occasional consumption is considered harmless, but in animal experiments, there were indications that methylcellulose could promote inflammation of the intestine.
  • Meat substitutes may contain phosphates. These can have health effects, especially in kidney patients.
    Meat substitutes are unnecessary for a balanced and varied vegetarian or vegan diet. In general, consumers should look at the list of ingredients for finished products: the shorter it is, the better.

Make your own vegan minced meat from unripe spelled

If you want to prepare traditional plant-based meat dishes, you can make delicious meat substitutes yourself. For example, meatloaf can be made from spelled (unripe spelled), lentils, and peas, which are soaked in beetroot juice overnight. The juice provides an appetizing color and also contains vitamins, trace elements, and minerals. Green spelled is rich in potassium, magnesium, and iron. Lentils contain calcium and zinc, peas are rich in B vitamins and fiber.

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