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Pros and Cons of Plant-based Meat Alternatives

Is plant-based meat the same as mock meat? What are the pros and cons of eating it? Here’s what you need to know about meat alternatives.

There has been a surge in public interest in plant-based meat, due to increased environmental awareness on food shortages, import and export issues, and the spread of COVID-19 in food factories during the pandemic.

Plant-based meats — often made from legumes, grains and wheat gluten — are meatless food products that can be used as an alternative to meat.

Examples of plant-based meat alternatives include:

  • Soy: tofu, tempeh
  • Jackfruit
  • Seitan

  • Is plant-based meat just another name for mock meat?

    Although mock meats sound like they’re the same as plant-based meat, the two are slightly different — mock meats are made to imitate animal meat products, while plant-based meats are just a meatless alternative.

    Plant-based meat can come in many forms, whereas mock meats usually mirror common animal meat products such as meat patties, meatballs, and fillets.

    Additionally, mock meats are usually easier to prepare and lower in nutritional value than modern plant-based meat.

    Should you eat plant-based meats?

    People eat plant-based meat for various reasons, but the most common ones are health, ethical beliefs, and environmental impact.

    If you’re wondering whether you should swap out your animal products for plant-based alternatives, here are some pros and cons to consider.

    Pro #1: Plant-based meat can be rich in protein

    When thinking of plant-based meat, the first argument against it is its low protein content and nutritional value.

    However, this is a common misconception.

    Since plant-based meats can be made from high-protein vegetable sources like soybeans, lentils, quinoa, seitan, and peas, they can pack a punch of protein.

    For example, 100g of fried tofu contains 17g of protein, which is comparable to 18g in 100g of chicken drumsticks.

    Pro #2: Plant-based meat can be healthier than animal meat

    Through the years, there have been studies that recommend a reduced intake of red meat due to high fat content and association with various health risks.

    Plant-based meat alternatives provide a highly nutritious food profile that can be lower in saturated fat and sodium than animal meat. In addition, they also provide important nutrients such as fibre, which is a nutrient that is not consumed enough.

    Pro #3: Reduced environmental impact with plant-based meats

    Made from vegetables, plant-based meats are usually less taxing on the environment than animal meat because of the significant savings in land, water, and energy.

    There is also reduced greenhouse gas production when it comes to creating plant-based meat. The problem of greenhouse gas is not new, in 2006 The United Nations’ Livestock’s Long Shadow report suggested there was a massive amount of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions related to animal agriculture.

    Con #1: Plant-based meat can be more heavily processed than animal meat

    As some plant-based meat and mock meat products are created to replicate animal meat, they may undergo more processing.

    This leads to a high content of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.

    Con #2: Plant-based meat has a unique texture

    When plant-based meats first became popular, many of them had jelly-like textures which did not resemble animal meat at all.

    With technological advancements, the texture of plant-based meat is becoming more like its animal counterparts.

    While there is more bite to it now, it’s still challenging to find those that replicate the texture of regular animal meat. Although that is something you can get used to, it may be a deal-breaker for those who can only accept the texture of real meat.

    Con #3: Plant-based meat may have a strong vegetable scent or taste

    As plant-based meat is made from vegetables, nuts, and seeds, there is often a strong, lingering scent or taste of the vegetable ingredients.

    This is especially true for soy-based meat alternatives, as soy has a strong smell that can overpower the entire dish.

    If you do not like the taste of beans, grains, soy, and tofu, you may not enjoy plant-based meat as these are the common ingredients used.

    So, whether you plan to transition into a plant-based diet or just want to replace one or two meaty meals with a healthier option, plant-based meat alternatives could be worth a try. After all, it’s never too late to start on a wholesome diet to improve your health and wellbeing.

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