written by Lindsay Patton

Is Plant-based Meat Healthy? 

Plant-based meat is having a moment and we are thrilled by it. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have made plant-based meat products accessible and even fast food is getting in on the action. 

Burger King launched its vegan Impossible Whopper in August and in that same month, KFC started testing out its Beyond Meat fried chicken in Atlanta and the test went so well that the product is now available in 100 locations. 

What this all means is veganism is growing and people are starting to ask more questions about the lifestyle and what plant-based meat has to offer. (A lot, actually!) Fast food isn’t where plant-based meat begins and ends, however. Menus are expanding and offering more plant-based meat options and grocery stores across the country are bumping up their selections. 

In this post, we’ll discuss what’s in plant-based meat, if plant-based meat is healthy and highlight other healthy meat substitutes you can incorporate in your meals.  

What’s in plant-based meat?

Obviously, plants, but it takes the right kind of plants to mimic the “meat” flavor, texture and look. Beyond Meat, for example, uses ingredients like rice protein, pea protein isolate, mung bean protein, potato starch and apple extract, with beet juice extract added in for color.

Impossible Foods, on the other hand, uses more soy in their ingredients, like soy protein concentrate, soy leghemoglobin and soy protein isolate. Each company creates their product differently, using various protein bases to build their “meat,” which showcases how much you can do with plant-based ingredients.  

Is plant-based meat healthy? 

It depends. If you’re consuming plant-based meat via fast food, then it’s still processed fast food and not the best for your health. However, plant-based meat has plenty of health benefits over animal-based meat, especially if you prepare it yourself. 

The most important part of going plant based is knowing you’re not getting the antibiotics and hormones pumped into animals. The FDA allows certain hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone in meat, the main reason being to increase the animal’s size. Likewise, animals are given antibiotics to ward off disease in cramped factory environments. Animals do carry bacteria that is antibiotic resistant, which means bacteria can easily contaminate other products and harm the people who eat it. 

By ingesting animal meat, humans are also ingesting the hormones and antibiotics in the meat. With plant-based meat, you don’t have to worry about consuming hormones, antibiotics or harmful bacteria. 

What are some healthy meat substitute options?

Glad you asked, because there are a ton! Not only are plant-based meat companies growing, but there are great ways you can use their products and other meat substitutes in your own kitchen. 

Tofu is one of the most popular meat substitutes and has diverse uses. Made from soybeans, it is full of protein and easy to cook with, especially if you are using seasoning or a marinade since tofu is great at soaking up flavor. 

If you want to expand your ingredient repertoire, Jackfruit is grown in tropical regions and makes for an outstanding pulled-pork substitute. Seitan is another common meat substitute made from wheat gluten and can be used as a chicken, beef or pork substitute. For anyone with a wheat allergy, we recommend tempeh, which is a soy product. Tempeh tastes nutty and can easily absorb other flavors, herbs and spices.

With all the advancements happening with plant-based meat, there should be no reason at all to consume meat from animals. 

We challenge you to use five different meat substitutes in your meals this week and let us know how they turn out!