Vegan meat is hot. Major food companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Subway and Nestlé are dipping their toes into the plant scene to meet growing demand.
As vegan meat enters the mainstream market, it is attracting the attention of skeptics around the world. Is vegan meat healthy? Or is it as bad for you as animal meat?
Vegan meat and sodium
The sodium content of vegan meat has many people wondering if the product might actually be better for you than meat. A report from the George Institute for Global Health found that meatless bacon contains more than a third of salt per day. Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
The George Institute for Global Health study highlighted the undesirable nutritional elements of vegan meat, but did not compare the plant-based products to their meat-based counterparts.
According to Consensus Action on Salt and Health, two strips of animal-based bacon can contain more than half of the maximum recommended daily salt for adults (6 grams). Some brands of bacon contain three times more salt than others.
The sodium content of any product, vegan or not, differs by brand. The Beyond Burger contains 380 mg of sodium, or 16% of the total recommended daily limit. The Impossible Burger contains 370 mg. Meanwhile, a McDonald’s burger patty (on its own, no buns or other ingredients) contains 125 mg. But not all vegan meats contain this much sodium. And according to nutritionist and raw chef, Geeta Sidhu-Robb, cured vegan meat might still be better for you than animal meat.
“A disadvantage often attributed to meat substitutes is the high levels of sodium used to preserve food and improve taste, which can damage your kidneys,” Sidhu-Robb told Metro. “However, that’s not to say that authentic meat isn’t filled with preservatives, unhealthy oils, additives and salts, which means that, overall, the alternatives are actually healthier than processed meat – it just depends on the substitute you choose.”
Calories and Fat in Vegan Meat
Burger King’s Meatless Impossible Whopper — which features a plant-based beef patty made by Impossible Foods — has a similar calorie count to a meat Whopper. The meatless version has 630 calories, while the meat burger has 660.
The Impossible Whopper also contains a similar amount of fat to a beef burger. Eating too much saturated or trans fat can raise your blood cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of disease.
Although Burger King’s meatless and meat-based burgers have similar calorie and fat counts, not all plant-based products do. UK supermarket chain Iceland is offering quarter pound vegan ‘No Bull’ patties. They contain 9 grams of fat per 100 grams, of which 1.4 are saturated. By comparison, the supermarket chain’s beef patties contain 21.8 grams of fat, 9.8 of which are saturated.
The Icelandic vegan burger contains 190 calories per 100 grams. The beef version contains 308 calories. Of course, not all products are the same. The plant-based Beyond Burger contains more fat and calories than the No Bull burger – 20 grams and 270 respectively. But it is still less than its animal counterpart.
Meat and cancer risk
Although some vegan meat products are high in salt, calories, or fat, they may still be safer than conventional meat. A growing body of research finds a link between meat consumption and diseases like cancer.
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated red meat – including beef, veal and lamb – as a Group 2 carcinogen, meaning it likely causes cancer in humans. man. Processed meat – such as bacon, hot dogs and pepperoni – has been named a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer. Asbestos and smoking also fall into this category.
According to the WHO, red meat is most closely linked to colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. Processed meat has links to colorectal cancer and stomach cancer.
A University of Oxford study published earlier this year found that eating just three slices of bacon a day could increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20%. “This study shows that the more meat you eat, the higher your risk of developing cancer and, of course, the reverse is true – the less you eat, the lower your risk of bowel cancer,” Emma Shields, chief information officer at Cancer Research UK, told the BBC.
A growing number of health experts are turning to plants for cancer prevention. Michigan’s Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital offered a plant-based cooking class to teach people which foods to choose to help prevent illness.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at the eating habits of 77,000 adults, finding that those who follow a plant-based diet could reduce their risk of developing rectal cancer by 29%.
British charity Cancer Research UK promotes the benefits of a meat-free diet on its website. “Eating a lot of processed and red meat can increase the risk of bowel cancer. If you eat a lot, it’s a good idea to try to reduce. Cancer Research UK writes online. When you reduce your meat intake, there is more room on your plate for high-fiber foods like vegetables, whole grains, and legumes like lentils and beans, all of which are high-fiber foods that reduce the risk of cancer.”
Meat and heart disease
A 2018 study by the Cleveland Clinic found that red meat may increase the risk of heart disease by 1,000% more than plant-based foods. The body produces a chemical compound called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) during a high meat diet. It is produced when gut bacteria digest choline, lecithin and carnitine – compounds found in animal products like red meat and liver. TMAO in the gut can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Health professionals look for high levels of TMAO in the blood to predict future potential heart problems.
Meat generally contains high levels of saturated and trans fats, which can raise blood cholesterol. Vegan foods, including plant-based meat, do not contain dietary cholesterol; Dietary cholesterol only exists in foods of animal origin. “Veganism is the only truly cholesterol-free diet,” according to Medical News Today. High cholesterol levels can lead to the formation of plaques inside the walls of the arteries. This ultimately increases the risk of stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and heart disease.
A study published by the American Heart Association last year found that vegan foods are the most effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, even more so than the diet recommended by the American Heart Association.
Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating plant-based foods may protect people against heart disease better than vitamin and mineral supplements.
Meat and other health issues
Heart disease and cancer aren’t the only illnesses linked to meat consumption. Giving up meat could help manage, prevent or even reverse diabetes. “By eating a healthy vegan diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat, but balanced enough to include fiber and protein, blood glucose levels may be easier to control,” says the global diabetes community.
A study of over 2,000 young adults looked at how diet can influence diabetes. He found a 60% risk reduction in people who followed a mostly plant-based diet over a 20-year period.
These results are similar to those of a separate 2018 study. It found that eating red and processed meat may increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. The research also found that meat consumption may be a cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Eliminating animal products could also reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as arthritis and dementia.
Balance is key
Vegan burgers, hot dogs, and bacon should be occasional treats. Instead, focus on whole foods — beans, grains, and vegetables.
Meatless fast food is still fast food. Neither vegan nor non-vegan fast food options are too good for you, and consumption should be limited.
Processed plant meat is not the healthiest food, but it is a healthier alternative to animal meat. Vegan meat allows people to enjoy the flavors they love while avoiding some disease risks.
Family Medicine’s Dr. Mike Varshavski told FOX Business that vegan and non-vegan meat is an indulgence. “It’s more about risk reduction. If you eat three burgers a week and want to reduce your animal intake, get a meatless burger and cut it down. he said. “But ideally, I just want to stop people from eating junk food. Whole foods are what will keep you healthy. Whole foods are plant foods that are as unprocessed and unrefined as possible.
Senior public health nutritionist Clare Farrand, who led the George Institute for Global Health study, told ABC, “We know Australians tend to be more plant-based. It’s ultimately a good thing. However, they are still packaged and processed foods.
“Some products contain much less salt than others, so there are healthier options,” she noted. “When you eat a plant-based diet rich in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, it’s obviously healthier.”