But leaving aside the taste – after all, sales suggest a lot of people like them – are the new vegan substitutes really the answer to our health and climate problems, especially when most – soy, jackfruit , coconut – must be imported? Or are we being sold a turkey (soy-based, lab-grown, cruelty-free)?
When it comes to our bodies, the crux of the matter was summed up by Dr Małgorzata Desmond of University College London and the Children’s Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw, when she said: “The mere fact of eating low fat diets herbal is not a guarantee of health, we need to choose healthy foods.
This is echoed by Andrea Rymer, dietitian at the Vegan Society, “We already consume too much salt and saturated fat,” she says. “And not enough fruits and vegetables. Some of this ends up in the vegan food industry and many ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are produced.
UPFs, she adds, “don’t have high nutritional value and many may contain too much fat, too much salt and lots of free sugars.” The best sources of vegan protein, she says, include beans, chickpeas, nuts, lentils, hemp seeds and soy protein like tofu. But vegans who chose the diet for ethical or climatic reasons, and who still enjoy the taste and texture of meat-based dairy products, will find plant-based copies to fill the gap.
Gunter Kuhnle, professor of food and nutritional science at the University of Reading, focuses more on nutritional balance than processing levels. “The problem is that when something becomes popular, a fad, people don’t think about it properly. Many people believe that if you can buy something, it’s safe – people eat substitutes without checking the differences. Milk is a good example.
“Drinking soy milk is not the same as drinking cow’s milk – if you rely on milk for most of your calcium or protein and switch to a plant-based drink, you might experience The fatty acid content is different and contains isoflavins which can interfere with your hormonal system and can be a problem for people with thyroid problems.