Meat alternatives (also called meat analogs, meat substitutes, imitation meat or vegetarian meat) emulates the characteristics—such as chemical characteristics, flavor, and appearance—of specific types of meat. For the most part, meat alternatives are foods processed from vegetarian ingredients and, in some cases, without dairy products.
Most imitation meats are gluten-based or soy-based, such as tempeh and tofu. Today, many food analog manufacturers use pea protein which is a protein powder supplement extracted from Pisum sativum seeds. Traditionally, food manufacturers targeted vegetarians, vegans, those with faith-based dietary laws, and non-vegetarians looking to decrease their meat consumption.
Evidence Shows Meat Alternatives Might Not Be Healthy
Ever since their introduction, many consumers have felt distrust for processed foods of all kinds, especially meat alternatives. Vegetarians and vegans argue that—due to inhumane conditions and the use of growth hormones—meat from farmed animals possess more of a health risk to humans.
Additionally, organic meat (from animals free of antibiotics or growth hormones) prices remain relatively high compared to conventional meat products, since the supply for organic meats and other natural foods is much lower than the demand. This pushes consumers not wanting to eat commercial meat products to purchase cheaper alternatives, such as meat substitutes.
However, the question remains: how much healthier are meat substitutes? Well, the answer may shock some readers.
First of all, it should be noted that the debate over whether or not “fake meat” is healthy; each side has its points. With that said, how healthy or unhealthy one faux meat is or isn’t depends on which company you’re talking about, which means the ball lands in the court of the consumer to do their homework before buying into one brand or another.
And, as one Bloomberg article stated, the dispute continues to rage, along with public relations blitzkriegs from either side, so keep an open mind while making your final decision. With that said, let’s go over some of the evidence critics of companies such as Beyond Meat Inc.