Plant-based meats are becoming more popular, and widely available. These products are made using plant-based ingredients to replace meat in recipes for those looking to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Most plant-based meats are marketed to replace specific meats such as meatless burgers, meatless hot dogs, and meatless deli slices. Below is a comparison of plant-based meats, including texture and nutritional information.
This vegan brand launches its debut vegan burger in 2012. This burger replicates the texture and look of a beef burger, with plant-based ingredients. Beyond Meat primarily use pea protein combined with mung bean protein as the base of all their products, with coconut oil, rice protein, and dried yeast also featuring. The product range available in supermarkets now includes plant-based ground meat, sausages, meatballs, and chicken.
All Beyond Meat products contain no soy or gluten, and the coloring comes from beet juice. The beet juice also helps to replicate the color of ground beef in the meatballs, burgers, and ground meat options. Nutritionally, beyond products provide all 9 essential amino acids and are high in protein. However, due to the high-fat content, Beyond Meat products shouldn’t be consumed daily.
Similar to the Beyond Meat brand, Impossible Foods offer plant-based meat replicas. These products are designed to look, taste, and act like real meat. To achieve the texture and add protein to their products, Impossible Foods uses potato and soy protein along with soy heme iron. Impossible Foods currently offer meatless burgers, ground meat, sausage, and nuggets in most supermarkets.
When it comes to nutrition, while Impossible Foods products contain all 9 essential amino acids, the amount of each means they are not a complete protein. However, the products are high in protein, and vitamin B12. Due to the high sodium content, Impossible Foods products should not be consumed daily.
This large tropical fruit is often used to replace pulled pork due to its texture and mild flavor. The fibrous fruit soaks in the flavor from any sauce you cook it in, making it a low-calorie and delicious meat alternative. Often, you can find canned jackfruit at the supermarket. Just be aware that nutritionally, jackfruit has minimal protein, however, it is high in fiber.
This plant-based meat alternative is made from vital wheat gluten. It has a savory flavor and a slightly chewy texture. Seitan works well in stirfrys, stews, and pasta dishes. Most groceries stores now sell seitan in the refrigerator section in cubes, slices or blocks. Or, if you so wish you can make seitan from scratch. All it requires is time, vital wheat gluten, vegetable broth, and flavorings (such as garlic, nutritional yeast, or soy sauce). Try the Vegan Atlas recipe to get started.
Nutritionally, seitan is high in protein and contains high amounts of 8 essential amino acids. This means it is not a complete protein, however, it is close, with Lysine being the missing amino acid. However, when nutritional yeast is added to the recipe, seitan can be a complete protein source. Just be aware that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can not consume seitan as it is made of gluten.
Common plant-based meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans. Soy is one of the original plant-based meat alternatives and are available almost everywhere. These products have a mild taste and come in a variety of textures and styles. Most plant-based meat alternatives contain soy as it is readily available and easy to flavor.
Nutritionally, soybeans contain all nine essential amino acids and a high amount of protein. However, derivatives of soybeans like tofu and tempeh contain smaller amounts of both amino acids and protein, and thus may need to be supplemented with other products.
There are a growing number of plant-based meat alternatives on the market today. Use the comparison of plant-based meats above to help you meal plan. Most of them are delicious and nutritious choices for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet. However, always ensure you check the sodium content of each, as they are often higher in sodium than expected. Aim to eat less-processed options like seitan and whole soy foods more often, and processed products as an occasional option.