Non-Meat Is The Latest Meal Hype. But Is Good For Us?
Non-meat creations or vegetarian ‘meat’ copycats are hitting the food market by storm. These weird creations are showing up in new fast-food vegan businesses, restaurants and even grocery stores. There’s nothing new about non-meat sausages and burgers. But this year people are rapidly choosing these instead of meat options. Whether these people are vegetarian or vegan doesn’t matter. The question that I have, however, is: are these non-meat options healthy or healthier for us than real meat?
I mean chefs are getting seriously creative. There are non-meat options that mimic the texture of meat, taste fantastic and even sound more appetizing than a good old beef burger. Even those who have been avid meat-eaters are opting for vegetarian’meat’ options. Not just because they taste good, but they also think they’re healthier choices. Are they really though? I mean, we need to consider what they’re putting into these weird non-meat creations and how processed they really are. Then again, most meat sausages, burger patties, nuggets etc. are all just as processed.
I won’t lie, some vegan substitutes are very attractive, even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan. Food chains are creating beautiful burger patties made out of beetroot and portabello mushrooms. These burgers are super filling and juicy and are usually served on freshly baked whole-grain buns. They’re so good, that they’re deceiving and you can hardly notice that you’re not even eating real meat.
There are fast food chains popping up all over the world like this burger place in Cambridge called DoppleGanger. This place operates the same as McDonald’s, but the only difference is that you can order craft beer and vegan burgers. Everything is non-eat. I am talking about vegetarian hoisin ‘duck’ with fries and rashers of vegan ‘bacon.’ This is crazy weird, right? Everything about it feels awkward because you’re tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating meat. This is where people are getting confused. They assume what they’re eating must be healthier because it’s vegan or vegetarian. Not necessarily. Just because it’s soy protein doesn’t mean it’s better than good old beef because it’s non-meat.
Non-Meat Creations Might Be Misleading
There are so many options available in terms of food nowadays. I get it, it gets highly confusing. Once again, I am about to remind you to remain mindful and use what you already know…Your common sense. Ask yourself this. Is what I’m eating processed? Is it a fast-food chain? If you answered yes to both, then you more than likely already know that just because it’s vegan does not make it any healthier than ordering from McDonald’s. It’s certainly more ethical and environmentally friendly – well, you’re doing your part. Just keep an eye out for what your beetroot burger contains and how it was made.
There are many reasons why people choose to go vegetarian or vegan. It can be for ethical reasons, to lifestyle, to weight goals. The reasons all depend on you. However, most people struggle with giving up meat the most when it comes to doing this transition, especially those who have grown up eating meat. The change affects your entire lifestyle. That’s why food production companies and restaurants have turned to soybeans, vegetables and pulses. These non-meat options recreate a similar texture and sometimes even taste. However, some studies have found that eating too many soy-based products can lead to harmful health problems, including breast cancer. This is why you need to still have a mindful approach and remember that too much of anything is not good for you!
Why Should You Ever Eat Meat Again?
Vegan fast food companies like Doppelganger, force us to rethink our relationship with food. They limit our consumption of meat and trick our minds into thinking we’re eating it. It is strange though because it seems like you’re eating something fake. How could fake meat be good for you? It may or may not be, but the way non-meat options are prepared is crucial to your health.
However, it is clear that the demand for non-meat or fake meat options is on the rise. According to research done by Just Eat, the demand has increased by 987% since 2017. I mean, Just Eat launched its first-ever vegan sausage roll using a Quorn filling and the hype was insane. People were posting about it on social media more than what was happening with Brexit, according to the Guardian.
Mock meat is flooding foo stores as well. As soon as you walk into the store, you see the frozen aisle sections fully stocked with vegan or vegetarian burgers, meatballs, nuggets and goujons. It’s not that these are new because they have existed since way back. People who couldn’t afford meat opted for non-meat options and there were a few vegetarians around. The only difference is that food technology has made non-meat creations so much more alike. The resemblance is uncanny actually. There are crispy vegetarian’chicken’ schnitzels, flaky’fish’ burgers and even juicy ‘burger patties’ oozing with beetroot juice.
I mean, we’re going crazy over here.
Non-Meat Options Allow You to Play Your Part
Whether you choose to eat a vegan non-meat creation for weight control or because they taste good, you are doing your part in the environment. So at least we have got as a leg to stand on. But whether these fast food vegan restaurants are any healthier is another question. Whether you’re eating fried chicken or fried zucchini, you’re still eating food smothered in canola oil.
Concerned about your health? Let’s get a non-meat burger instead! Hmm, let’s think about that choice a bit more first. This is one of the main reasons people are now buying so many vegetarian sausages and burgers. They’ve been misled, though. There’s absolutely nothing healthy about a vegan hot dog. In fact, they’re probably just as, if not more, processed and industrial than the real meat option.
Nutritionists worry that vegan non-meat creations are perceived as automatically being healthier. However, research shows that non-meat burgers usually contain more salt than meat burgers. In addition, you might be losing vital nutrients like iron and vitamin B when choosing these options instead.
Tofu or not, don’t overhype it. It’s not necessarily healthier than eating the real thing. More importantly, remember that any food that has been highly processed should be eaten mindfully. You don’t need to avoid it, but don’t overdo it because of the high salt content, additives and preservatives.
Watch Out For The Effects Of Non-Meat Creations
Of course, everyone is unique and their bodies will react differently. But it isn’t uncommon for people to report after eating that they are experiencing digestion problems, cramping or constipation. You might need to confirm before eating the vegan option what it contains nutritionally. Many of these non-meat options contain some sort of soy or pea protein isolate, canola oil, refined oil, water, yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavors, gum and other additives.
Therefore, if you’re not used to eating any of these, your body might not be able to digest them very well. In fact, they might upset everything. However many vegans eat them all the time without any issues at all. I still think we need more tests to be done to confirm the real effects these non-meat options have on digestion. Quorn products warn you on the packet that the mycoprotein ‘may cause intolerance‘ in some people.
Are Non-Meat Creations Healthier?
This is a tricky question to answer, especially since there are so many variations available. The true answer is that it depends.
Experts state that there is ‘no evidence’ from large-scale studies that specifically look at such products. A study conducted by Harvard found that those who ate more plant protein and less animal protein had a lower overall risk of death. However, the catch is that the plant protein in the study was mostly beans, pulses and nuts, not Quorn ‘bacon’ strips.
Once again, stick to eating real whole foods 80% of the time. Having said that, if you’re a regular consumer of these fake non-meat creations, you might not be seriously health conscious. Don’t get me wrong these are still ethically better and really convenient on busy nights when you’re limited on time.
If health is your main concern, then we would highly recommend preparing vegetable curries with chickpeas and lentils or bean burgers instead of non-meat hot dogs and nuggets. If you are going to opt for these then be sure to pair it with some fresh vegetables and give the grease a skip as well!
Rejuvenate gut bacteria during the summer, so that when it starts getting cold again your body is stronger than before. Health experts continue to talk about the importance of gut health for a reason.