Health Tips: What is Fake Meat? Is it good for health?
Plant-based protein, or imitation meat, has grown in popularity in recent years as consumers want to eat less of animal meat products. In fact, plant-based proteins are projected to be a $3 billion business in Australia by 2030. Many consumers believe that these fake meats are better for their health as well as the environment, but is that true?
What is imitation meat?
The name may sound like meat, but the first thing to note is that it is not imitation meat. Referring to these products as meat has been widely criticized by the meat industry, resulting in a recent Senate committee report recommending the mandatory labeling of plant-based products. Fake meat comes in two categories. They come in: plant-based protein and cell-based protein. Plant-based burgers and sausages found at the supermarket are made by extracting protein from plant foods, often pea, soy, wheat protein and mushrooms.
But these products require myriad additives to make them look and taste like traditional meat. For example, chemically refined coconut oil and palm oil are often used to help mimic the soft and juicy texture of meat. Plant-based is added to burgers. Coloring agents such as beetroot extract have been used in Beyond Meat’s raw burgers, which mimic the color change that occurs when the meat is cooked. And uses the additive soy leghemoglobin produced by genetically engineered yeast to make Impossible Foods Bleeding Burger.
The product not yet available in supermarkets in Australia is cell based or “cultured meat”. This imitation meat is made from an animal cell which is then grown in a laboratory to make a piece of meat. While this may seem like a far cry, Australia already has two cell-based meat producers.
Is Imitation Meat Healthier? Not necessarily.
An audit of more than 130 products available in Australian supermarkets found that plant-based products had fewer calories and saturated fat on average, and were higher in carbohydrates and fiber than meat products. However, not all plant-based products are created equal. Huh. In fact, there are considerable differences in nutritional content between products. For example, the saturated fat content of plant-based burgers in this audit ranged from 0.2 to 8.5 grams per 100 grams, meaning that some plant-based products actually contain more saturated fat than beef patties.
Plant-based products tend to have higher salt levels, but vary between products. Plant-based mince can contain up to six times more sodium than meat equivalent products, while plant-based sausages contain an average of two-thirds less sodium. The question is whether to swap animal-based foods for plant-based foods. -Does swapping improve health?
An eight-week trial of 36 American adults examined this, and researchers found that turning to more plant-based products (while keeping all other foods and drinks as similar as possible) increased the risk of heart disease, including cholesterol levels and body weight. Disease risk factors improved. However, research in this area is still in its infancy, and long-term trials are needed.
Is Imitation Meat Better for the Environment? Yes it can be.
The US Beyond Meat Burger claims to produce 99% less water, 93% less land, and 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than a traditional beef patty. Still, the environmental impact of plant-based products A controversial topic, especially since ultra-processed foods have been criticized as being environmentally unstable.
A study published this month in The Lancet Planetary Health looked at the ethical and economic implications of eating more plant-based products. The researchers concluded that switching from beef to plant-based products would reduce the carbon impact of US food production by 2.5-13.5%, reducing the need for the animals used to make beef products by 20 million to 12 million. Will be
So should we be eating imitation meat?
Imitation meat can be enjoyed occasionally as a food, as part of a healthy diet. When choosing plant-based products, check the label to choose low-salt and high-fiber options. If you’re looking for an alternative that’s healthier for both you and the environment, whole plant foods are by far the best option for a plant-based or flexitarian diet. Use fresh or canned legumes, beans and chickpeas in meat-free burgers Can be used to make, and herbs and spices can add flavor to tofu.