Meat substitutes have garnered considerable hype in recent years. But what is behind the veggie boom and how healthy are meat alternatives?
Anyone who switches to a vegan or vegetarian diet these days does not have to do without the taste of meat. There is an ever-increasing selection of meat substitutes and imitations on the market – but the promising veggie products not only ensure popularity but also always arouse debate.
Is there a drastic decline in meat production? In any case, the revolution in the food industry is predicted by an agricultural expert from the management consultancy A.T. Kearney, claiming, “By 2040, only 40 percent of the meat products consumed will come from animals.”
The fact that the cards could be reshuffled at some point is probably due to increasing environmental awareness and ethical reasons that are already leading people to use meat substitutes today.
Vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians in particular have discovered this for themselves – but those who otherwise enjoy steak and sausage can also benefit from the taste of the alternatives to classic meat, which are getting closer and closer to the original.
What should be considered when buying?
In the media and social networks, there are always critical voices that question the meat substitute. Is he that healthy or will the image of the disappointing sham be confirmed? A holistic view of this topic is not that easy.
When consuming such products, it is advisable to ensure an overall balanced diet with high consumption of vegetables and lots of fiber – and to look closely at the list of ingredients when buying meat substitute products. The shorter it is, the better.
In addition, a large proportion of the nutrients can be lost if the food is intensively processed industrially. If you want to do something good for yourself when it comes to meat substitutes, you may not always find what you are looking for in conventional supermarkets or discounters, but in organic shops and health food stores.
Are meat substitutes a healthy alternative?
The Albert Schweitzer Foundation commissioned a study on this from the Institute for Alternative and Sustainable Nutrition.
She concluded that meat alternatives perform better than classic meat in some nutritional points. They are practically free of cholesterol, were able to convince with the values of saturated fatty acids, and scored with high protein content.
Only the salt content is an issue again and again because it is considered too high in many meat substitute products – by the way, as well as in meat itself. But here, too, a look at the nutritional information helps before a product ends up in the shopping cart.
The choice is great
When you think of meat substitutes, you may automatically have the usual burger patties from the supermarket in mind. But meat substitutes also include tofu, tempeh, seitan, lupine, and corn, as well as grains, beans, lentils, mushrooms, soybean shavings, and jackfruit.
The latter has a fibrous consistency and, when properly prepared and seasoned, can even resemble cooked pork. Overall, it is a meat substitute if the food tastes or feels similar to meat or has a comparable protein content.
The classic: tofu
Tofu is probably one of the most popular meat substitutes on the market and is no longer only known to vegans and vegetarians in western culture. Bean quark has a particularly long tradition in Japanese cuisine.
The product is easily digestible and can be grilled or roasted, processed, and seasoned in different ways. The preparation is the be-all and end-all because this soy-based meat substitute is rather bland and cannot be compared with the meat consistency.
But that does not diminish its success, because tofu is rich in proteins, contains all the important amino acids, and is versatile due to its neutral taste. Tofu can even be an alternative to eggs or dairy for vegans.
Nothing speaks against the consumption of this meat substitute if the soybean were not a widespread genetically manipulated crop. Therefore, it is also important to make a conscious purchase here. Rely on tofu from organic shops, which preferably comes from regional cultivation – this in turn puts the energy consumption for transport into perspective.