Are Plant-Based Meats Actually Healthier?

There are always new trends fading in and out of dieting patterns. One of the more recent trends has become plant-based meats. If you’re familiar with this, you might be thinking about sad images of flimsy tofu and soy meat alternatives. Well, I’ve got some news for you: plant-based meats are getting better.

New options have improved drastically in quality and variety, making plant-based meats a more favorable option for many. But here is the important question: is plant-based meat healthy?

What is Plant-Based Meat?

First, let’s establish what plant-based meat is. Plant-based meat is an alternative meat that mimics the real deal. This includes texture, taste, and purpose. These new plant-based meats can be used as sausages, burgers, bacon, and more.

In truth, they’re plants in disguise. Producers combine plant-based ingredients to make vegetarian meats which include no processed red meat. What ingredients you may ask? Here are some of the more popular options: 

  • Tofu and soy
  • Potato starch
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds

These ingredients and more can potentially be found in your plant-based meats.

Why Eat Plant-Based Meats

So, now let’s discuss why people want to switch to meat alternatives instead of just eating meat.

Firstly, this change benefits the environment. The processed meat you see in stores is brought to you through some environmentally unfriendly methods. In fact, this industry alone makes up 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Intensive farming also involves plenty of landscaping which damages the soil and biodiversity. Pollution created finds its way into our air and waterways, creating more damage than benefits to us in the long run.

Next, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also voiced concerns about red processed meats being carcinogens. That means they’re potential causes of cancer. This makes them a lot more undesirable in your diet.

Finally, there are ethics. Animals in intensive farms are mistreated until they’re served on a plate. They live in cramped cages and are used for two purposes only: breeding and slaughter. Intensive farming is the product of high demand for these types of meat, so lowering your own consumption of meat can demotivate these farming methods.

Now that we’ve got some concrete reasons to support plant-based meats over regular meat, let’s figure out if plant-based meats are even the healthier option.

Are Plant-Based Meats Healthy?

Hearing the term plant-based meat, you might immediately assume well this must be healthier, right? The truth is a little more complicated.

In theory, yes, plant-based meats are a healthier option. Plant-based ingredients are higher in vitamins, minerals, and plenty of antioxidants your body needs. Even the American Heart Association (AHA) supports plant-based meats over red meats because of the potential benefits.

In practice, things are much blurrier and more confusing. Different brands have varying recipes and ingredients which might make for a good-tasting meat alternative, but perhaps not the healthiest. Other companies are heavily fixated on ensuring their product is the healthiest that they may compromise on their taste quality.

Finding the right plant-based alternatives is up to you. Researching brands and companies individually can help you get a better picture of their ethics, priorities, and quality. Finding good plant-based meats can be a struggle.

–> 6 Vegan Meat Substitute Recipes You Must Try

The Pros of Plant-Based Meats

Let’s look at the pros :

  • You can protect your own health by avoiding the carcinogenic potentials of red processed meats. Plant-based meats promise greater nutritional value with vitamins and minerals along with the protein and fiber fill.
  • You’re helping the environment and animals by making this change. Plant-based meats (depending on the manufacturer) use more ethical methods of production than intensive farms do.
  • This can be a more cost-efficient option for many if you compare the price of plant-based meats to regular meat prices.

The Cons of Plant-Based Meats

Many packaged products are plant-based, and require frying or cooking. This can take their nutritional value away as nothing fried is ever a healthier option.

They could also contain lots of salt and filler ingredients or additives which you don’t want in your food. Always keep an eye out for these two factors.

You should be looking greatly towards protein and fiber alternatives such as avocados, tofu, lentils, and beans. Don’t expect plant-based meat to be the perfect replacement for your nutritional needs.

Takeaway

For a healthier plant-based burger, why not start making your own plant-based burgers, if you like! Try this black bean burger recipe!

If you want to try out some plant-based recipes, visit my YouTube channel for all of my video tutorials!

Stay Healthy,

Eva