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Are vegetarian meat alternatives healthy? In general, definitely.

There is a lot of misinformation going around about meat alternatives. A lot of people don't know how they are produced and think that they might be bad for our health or even for the environment. We aim to debunk all the myths on this page, together with dieticians, researchers and producers of meat alternatives!


What are they made of?


Protein source

Just like the meat they are replacing, meat alternatives are mainly a protein source. This can be soy, wheat, peas... Tofu, for example, is mainly made of soy protein, obtained by fermenting soy beans. Isn't that cool? Basically, the main things they do are mixing, sieving and drying. Seems like something you can do at home right?




Oil or fat


Which is used for the juicy feeling of meat alternatives! In general unsaturated fats like sunflower oil or olive oil are used, which can have a positive impact on our health!




Starch


Starches are used to improve the consistency of our meat alternatives and bind the ingredients, just like they would do in a sauce! They are a source of carbohydrates and definitely not harmful. A commonly used ingredient is methylcellulose (which originates from wood). This component has a similar effect on our bodies as fibers, which is a nutrient that Belgians are in general definitely lacking!



Spices


Taste is added using spices, just as you would season meat or other dishes! Salt is often appointed to the 'bad' name of meat replacements, but these amounts are often small compared what we generally add to our food. A vegetarian alternative contains about 1,3 grams of salt, which is a sixth of a teaspoon.





Colour


Colour is often added to meat alternatives to make it look more appealing! In general, very innocent types of colouring agents are used, such as beetroot juice or tomato puree.





Conclusion for our health


So while it is good that we are very critical about what we are eating, we have to stick to the facts when it comes to meat alternatives. Although an unprocessed, plant-based diet will always result in the largest amount of health benefits, meat alternatives are a good way to replace meat in our diet when we are making the transition. In general, eating these replacements will improve your health, as you reduce the risk of heart- and coronary diseases, as well as cancer, when switching to plant-based meat alternatives. Because these replacements contain fibers, they might even have a positive impact on your health.


Why did Testaankoop claim them to be unhealthy?

General norms used by dieticians say that vegetarian alternatives should contain


Protein: >10 g/100g Fats: <10 g/100g Saturated fats: <5 g/100g Salt: <1,6 g/100g Iron: >0,7 g/100g Vitamin B12: >0,13 µg/100g


A recent, soon to be published study about 520 meat alternatives shows that most of the meat alternatives meet these requirements. Testaankoop used different norms, of which the origin is unclear, for example


Protein: >12 g/100g Salt: <1,25 g/100g Vitamin B12: >0,24 µg/100g


If we use these norms, of course a lot of the veggie alternatives do not meet the requirements. Some articles tell a short and unnuanced story, and we think it is important to bring this nuances.


And of course, our planet!


"Meat replacements, even when they are very processed, will have a lower impact on our planet than meat itself"

By switching to a more plant-based diet, you will be able to reduce your impact on global warming 54% to even 87%.


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