Are Vegan Meat Alternatives Healthy?

Vegan Meat
Vegan Meat
Vegan Meat
Vegan Meat

According to environmentalists, we must consume less animal flesh to protect not only the planet but also our health. One of the ways to do it is to choose vegan meat. Many people wonder whether the meat alternatives for sale in supermarkets would offer sufficient protein.

As per a recent Safefood survey, 28% of the nutritional ingredients of around 350 meat alternatives in supermarkets do not contain enough protein. That means those are not supposed to be considered meat substitutes. That possibly would not have been a big deal some years ago when meatless goods were not mainstream. However, now, vegan consumer goods sold as alternatives to burgers, mince and sausages are widely available.

Celebs and other influencers often try to convince commoners to follow a diet based on plant food items. Beyonce, Bill Clinton, and Rosanna Davison are three of those celebrities who have disclosed why they do not consume meat any longer.

There is scientific evidence to support their claims about meat. A study from 2019 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health discovered that consuming less meat and more plants lessened the possibility of heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

As per a different 2019 study from the EAT-Lancet Commission, meat’s use should be halved to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Savvy food manufacturers are offering a supply of food to more and more customers who curb their meat use due to growing pieces of research. Back in 2019, Irish food agency Bord Bia found vegan to be the third quickest-growing claim shown on the packaging of new food items and beverages.

That development encouraged Safefood’s research. Fully plant-based food items are not part of a niche category any longer, said Seafood’s Joana Caldeira Fernandes da Silva. Many readily eatable vegan goods are available in the market.

Ireland’s Safefood wished to discover why individuals were consuming those items. Da Silva wondered whether people think of those as healthier products, and she said that Seafood looked into their nutritional details.

Seafood interviewed around 800 individuals; 41% of the ones who consumed vegan meat alternatives, ate those once per week at the least, whereas 7% of them ate them daily. Apart from environmental concerns, they did so mainly because they regarded those products as healthier and tasty.

From a nutritional perspective, a food item has to meet a particular set of requirements to be recognized as a considerable protein source. If the portion of energy from a product’s protein is between 12% and 19%, then it would be considered a protein source. If it has 20% protein or more, then it would be considered ‘protein-rich’. If that food item does not satisfy those two thresholds, then it would not be a significant protein provider.

In the Seafood survey, 23% of the 350-odd meat alternatives were protein sources. Around 50% of those were protein-rich products, whereas the rest 28% were not protein-rich and not a protein source. That would be an issue if you rely on the food items in place of meat protein.

Why Is Protein Important?

Several bodily functions require protein. It aids in creating antibodies for our immune system, enzymes for the digestion process, and hormones that deliver messages to various body parts. The macronutrient is part of our cell structure, and we require it to not only build muscles but also repair those tissues.

Our body composition, age, and physical activity levels help to determine the quantity of protein we require. A general rule is to have 830 milligrams of protein for each kilogram of weight daily, which amounts to 50 to 60 grams for an average joe. Kids and adolescents require more protein when they build muscles, whereas older folks also want it to maintain their muscle mass.

Dairy items, seeds, nuts, fish, meat, beans, lentils, and whole grains contain protein. We require a couple of servings of those products to meet our daily protein requirements.

Following a diet based on plant food items means that you will find it more difficult to meet those needs. Animal protein sources have all the amino acids that our body cannot create, but only a few plant protein sources have those. So, you should consume different plant protein sources to have all those amino acids. That would not be an issue if you are a vegan who plans the meals carefully.

As for The Plant-Based Diet Revolution’s author, Alan Desmond, there is no need to worry. A varied and healthy vegetarian diet that comprises whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, and nuts would give the body the amino acids and protein it requires to thrive, Desmond said.

Desmond researched the food patterns of a few of the healthiest individuals in the world, including those from the Mediterranean. Those people follow a mostly whole-foods, plant-based diet (WFPB), and they consume 70 to 80 grams of protein daily, said Desmond.