Meat alternatives are usually made from a variety of plant proteins, including soy, lentils, beans, chickpeas, grains, nuts, and seeds. While some are literally an alternative to meat, other varieties are created to mimic meat right down to the look, texture, and taste. These often come in the form of crumbles, burgers, sausages, or schnitzels. There are now even products that taste like chicken and fish on the meat-alternative menu.

are meat alternatives healthy?

Meat alternatives tend to be lower in calories and lower in saturated fat compared with animal meat sausages or burgers. And many of these products, being plant-based, also provide more fiber.

When shopping for a meat alternative, dietitians recommend choosing products fortified with zinc, iron, and vitamin B12—essential nutrients often found in animal foods.

can they provide the protein I need?

Most meat alternatives have protein higher than or equal to their meat counterparts.

A Food Frontier1 report recently evaluated meat-alternative products in Australia and New Zealand supermarkets. It showed that 82 percent of meat alternatives were a good source of protein, providing at least 10 grams of protein per serving.

Plant-based sausages were found to have more protein than meat varieties, burgers were about the same, while the plant-based equivalent of ground beef is the only meat alternative category with less protein than the animal-meat version.

On average, women need around 46 grams of protein a day, while men require a little more, at around 64 grams a day. Meat alternatives can certainly help hit the mark. A plant-based burger patty on a whole grain bun with a salad can provide as much as 30 grams of protein in one meal.

is the protein quality the same?

There are nine essential amino acids that we must get from the protein we eat. If a food contains all nine of the essential amino acids, it is called a complete protein.

It’s often argued animal proteins are better because they contain all nine essential amino acids. However, there are also plant foods that are commonly thought of as “complete proteins,” or high-quality proteins. These include soybeans, quinoa, amaranth, and pistachio nuts. Regardless, having a variety of different plant proteins as part of a healthy, balanced diet each day will provide the essential amino acids you need.

Looking for more ways to add plant-based proteins to your diet? Check out Dr. Fay Kazzi's The Earthy Canvas Vegan Cookbook, available at AdventistBookCenter.com or by clicking here.

Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. For weekly recipe inspiration in your email inbox, visit https://www.sanitarium.com.au and subscribe to Recipe of the Week.

Health Matters: Are Meat Alternatives Healthy?

by Sanitarium Health Food Company
  
From the September 2022 Signs