The 411 on Meat Substitutes

Meat substitutes have become a revolution in the food industry. You can now find these meat substitutes at every major grocery store and at a variety of restaurants. These products can be used to help vegetarians and vegans have more variety in their meals and make it easier to eat meals with friends and family.

Most of the companies that produce meat substitute products focus on making a product that helps the environment. Picking certain types of plant based foods can help cut down on water usage, energy consumption and reduce green house gas emissions. Plant based protein food sources could be the way we can sustainably provide protein for the masses in the future. Switching out some of your meat choices per week with a plant based source, can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

There has been plenty of controversy over the quality and nutritional value of meat substitutes. In the last few years companies have found revolutionary ways of making these products. I always tell patients that these products go through a high amount of processing. Let’s face it, plants don’t come out of the ground looking like ground meat. It takes processing and science to turn it into the product you see on the shelves. So therefore, if your goal for health and wellness is to eat less processed food, then these products are not for you. The majority of meat substitute brands use soy as their main source of protein. There have been many studies dedicated to discovering if soy effects reproductive hormones and if it is promotes cancer. Studies have shown that eating soy in your diet doesn’t increase your risk of breast cancer or cause hormone imbalance. I will note that if you have a family history of breast cancer or have inherited the BRCA gene, you may need to moderate your consumption of soy products.

Most of the companies that make meat substitutes try to fortify these foods to help consumers meet nutritional needs. Some examples are adding nutritional yeasts for B vitamins, vegetables for fiber, and plant based fats to help reduce cholesterol.

Beyond Meat Brand:

This meat substitute is made from rice protein, pea protein, mung fruit protein and coconut oil. This product does not contain soy protein sources. The mission of this company is to leave less of a carbon footprint to make a nutritious meat substitute. It takes 99% less water than animal meats and 93% less land space.

Nutrition Information:

Calories per 4 ounce serving: 260kcal

Protein: 20gms

Carbs: 5gm

Fats: 18gms

Fiber: 2 gms

Impossible Meat:

The Impossible meat company has the mission to help the planet by decreasing the negative effects animal meat has on the environment. Like most of the other plant based meat substitutes companies, their products cut down on water, land use and green house gases. This product is made from soy and potato protein sources. The fat sources are from coconut and sunflower oil.

Nutritional Information:

Calories per 4 ounce serving: 240kcal

Protein: 13gm

Fat: 14gm

Carb: 9gm

Fiber: 3gm

Morning Star Meat:

Morning star meat substitute products have been on the market for a long time. They provide vegetarian/vegan options. They are owned by the Kellogg brand. Their products are made from soy protein concentrate, canola oil, and palm oil among other ingredients. They make a variety of substitute meat products including: veggie burgers, not-chicken tenders, breakfast sausage, etc.

Nutrition Information:

Calories per 4 ounce serving: 260kcal

Fat: 16gm

Carb: 14gm

Protein: 20 gm

Fiber: 7gm

Field Roast Products:

This company makes vegan products and is found in most grocery stores. Their main source of protein comes from wheat gluten. Therefore, this product would not be suitable for someone with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

Nutrition Information:

Calories peer sausage: 180kcal

Fat: 8 gm

Carb: 6 gm

Protein: 21gm

Fiber: 4 gm