People consume meat alternatives for a variety of reasons. Some people opt not to eat meat for ethical, health, or other personal reasons.
Notably, some people experience digestive symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation after eating meat. Some evidence suggests that eating red meat may increase the risk of diverticulitis, a gastrointestinal condition.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that eating less meat may improve the environment and overall health.
Whatever the reason for selecting a meat substitute, it is critical to understand which ones provide the nutrients a person requires. Learn about various meat substitutes and their nutritional value in this article.
1. Soy Protein
Soy chunks and mince are inexpensive and straightforward to prepare ingredients. They are made of dehydrated soy, which can be substituted for meat in nearly any recipe when combined with water. According to U.S. Soy articles, soy is most commonly sold as cutlets, mince, or balls. Additionally, soy is ideal for vegetarian burgers, cutlets, meatballs, bolognese sauce, and chilli sin carne. You can read more here global soy use .
This meat substitute made from wheat gluten is the star of many Buddha bowls—its dense texture is eerily similar to duck, but it also works well as a sandwich or pizza topping. Seitan is a good substitute if you have a soy allergy or prefer to avoid it for other reasons. It’s high in protein, aiding weight loss and muscle preservation.
People with allergies, gluten sensitivities, intolerances, or celiac disease should avoid it because it contains wheat proteins. It would be best to be cautious about what you buy. Notably, quick store-bought varieties are frequently loaded with preservatives, seasonings, and additives like soy sauce, sodium, and stabilizers to make them taste better.
Tofu is made from congealed soy milk. It’s the chameleon of vegan meat substitutes, absorbing almost any flavor. Soy from tofu is a complete protein uncommon in plant-based foods. It’s also high in minerals like iron and calcium, which are especially important for vegans. Tofu is frequently fortified with vitamin B12 in plant-based foods but is not bioavailable. Go for organic and fermented (for some good gut bacteria).
Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian meat substitute made from soy. It differs from tofu in several ways. Manufacturers use fermentation to make tempeh from whole soybeans rather than soy milk.
Significantly, tempeh may contain more fiber and protein than tofu because it contains the entire bean. As a result of the fermentation process, it also contains gut-friendly prebiotics and probiotics.
Additionally, tempeh may not be as versatile as tofu due to its more robust flavor, and it can be sautéed or stir-fried and added to salads or sandwiches. It can also be used as a meat substitute for grilling.
5. Pea protein
The humble pea is one of several plant-based protein sources that have recently made a name for themselves as meat substitutes. Pea-based products are currently available on the market as a blend of vegetables, pea protein, and various spices. They are high in protein, carbohydrates, and iron. However, pea protein-based meat substitutes are becoming more prevalent but are still restricted to supermarkets that cater to vegans.
Bonus: Oat flakes
Oat flakes can be used to make delicious cutlets. These are made with fried oat dough, vegetable broth, a little fat, zucchini or grated carrots, and other vegetable proteins. Oat flakes are an excellent source of zinc and iron and are inexpensive at any supermarket or discounter. Oat flakes provide a steady supply of complex carbohydrates, which can help to prevent hunger and, as a result, promote fat loss. Oatmeal is becoming a popular source of protein, and it is even available as ‘pulled oats,’ an alternative to pulled pork.
The Risks of Meat Consumption
Global meat production and consumption are both increasing. Every year, more than 74 billion animals are bred and slaughtered worldwide. The majority of them are chickens and pigs. In 2013, each person consumed 95 pounds of meat, with more than 20% of that meat going to waste. In the United States, per capita, meat consumption was 253 pounds, while in Europe, it was around 176 pounds. According to projections, meat production is expected to rise another 13% between 2017 and 2026.
A few instances of the health risks that animal-based foods can bring include food scandals like the swine flu and rotten meat and the rising prevalence of multidrug-resistant pathogens exacerbated by antibiotic overuse. According to a U.S. study with over 500,000 participants, men who consumed the most meat had a 27% risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, whereas women had a 50% risk. The risk increases with the consumption of red and processed meat.
How to Choose a Meat Substitute
Some meat substitutes sold in stores, such as veggie burgers or meatless “chicken nuggets,” may contain animal-based ingredients such as eggs and cheese.
Vegans should always read the label to ensure that the product contains no animal products.
Significantly, protein is present in some meat substitutes in high concentrations. Research suggests that protein may also reduce the risk of overeating by making a person feel fuller for longer.
Anyone who feels their diet lacks protein may want to increase their intake of meat substitutes high in protein.
Some meat substitutes contain vitamins and nutrients that a vegetarian or vegan diet may lack, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12. Choosing products that contain these nutrients can assist people who do not consume meat in maintaining a balanced diet.
Protein-rich Plant Foods
For example, beans, chickpeas, mushrooms, and lentils contain protein and can be used as meat substitutes. These types of foods are frequently included in vegetarian and vegan products.
Beans and mushrooms can be used in meals to add nutrition and make you feel fuller for longer. Because plant-based foods are often less expensive per pound than meat, they can help to reduce the cost of a meal.
People can substitute black beans for taco meat or mushrooms for beef to save money, lower cholesterol, and increase vegetable intake.
Only a few plant foods, such as buckwheat, quinoa, and soy, contain all essential amino acids. Vegetarians and vegans should consume various plant-based foods to obtain all amino acids.
Many meat substitutes can offer a lean source of protein and other nutrients without consuming meat.
Many of them are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, but they can also be a good choice for those who eat meat but want to cut back on their intake for environmental or health reasons.
The key to any healthy diet is to eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods while also getting enough protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Featured image: Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash