Suppose you want to start eating (more) plant-based. What can you eat as a healthy meat substitute? A good question! Fortunately, supermarket shelves are full of choices.
In the past, there was only a limited choice for vegetarians or vegans. Now there are separate shelves for the meat substitutes in some supermarkets. This can make it difficult to make a choice. You may be wondering whether meat substitutes are healthy.
What is a meat substitute?
As the name suggests, you can replace meat with a meat substitute. The term is not quite correct. It concerns products that are equivalent to meat instead of ‘less good' than meat.
Many people nowadays opt for meat substitutes, this, for example, is more in line with their more sustainable diet. They opt for a substitute with a vegetable origin, which can be less harmful to the environment. Are you curious about what good substitutes for meat are? Then read on quickly.
What is a good meat substitute?
Tempeh and tofu are made from soy. So these are also good choices.
A good meat substitute contains the following important nutrients:
- Egg white
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B12
The food industry is currently developing algae, insects, cultured meat, and seaweed as a meat substitute.
Some of the above foods are still of animal origin. The reason for these foods may be, for example, because of the less high environmental impact of these foods.
The reason for this is that insects do not have a central nervous system, so they probably do not experience pain.
Insects are ‘slaughtered' using a freezing or heating process. Insects have no receptors to feel heat or cold, so they don't suffer.
The burden on the environment for breeding insects is much lower than for meat. It does depend on the type of insect. Crickets, for example, are easier to breed than mealworms.
Cultured meat is grown in a laboratory from animal stem cells. It is also called animal-free meat, counterfeit meat, or in-vitro meat.
It is made by multiplying the single cells. Food is needed to multiply the cells. This is still being researched. For example, algae are used for this.
The advantage is that cultured meat has a smaller impact on the environment. A disadvantage is that it usually costs a lot of money. It is also not yet known whether it tastes like normal meat.
Ready-to-eat meat substitutes
There are more and more ready-to-eat meat substitutes for sale. There are also fish varieties, such as vegetarian fish fingers and salmon. The Nutrition Center advises that a good meat substitute should contain the following nutrients.
- Protein (more than 20% of the energy
- Iron > 0.8 mg per 100 grams
- Vitamin B1 > 0.6 mg per 100 grams
- Vitamin B12 0.24 mcg per 100 grams
Until now, there are no known ready-to-eat meat substitutes that meet these criteria. Many of the ready-made substitutes also contain too much salt.
For this reason, I recommend limiting the use of ready-to-eat meat substitutes. For example, you can persist once a week.
Read the label of the meat substitute and check the energy value and nutrients. Some products nearly meet the criteria. These are better choices.