The market for vegetarian food is now bigger than ever, and many companies have created different types of food and products, such as fake meats, to make the vegetarian “diet” easier and tastier. Those type of food and products include veggie burgers, chicken nuggets, chicken wings, sausages, meatballs, sandwich meats, and many others.Some companies make better products than others, as in everything, but in general, they should be avoided or only consumed occasionally. Note that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are not part of that category. Now, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of fake meats.
What’s good about those products is that they can be very satisfying for people on a transition diet as they have a meat-like consistency and taste, or for those who have meat cravings but refuse to eat animal products. Plus, they are quick and easy to prepare which make them very convenient. They are also normally high in proteins, lower in fats than meat, and do not contain cholesterol, hormones, or antibiotics.
On the other hand, fake meats are highly processed and are normally high in sodium. Most of them contain many food additives and preservatives, and they are made mainly of processed soy and/or wheat gluten, and can even contain eggs and milk proteins, which at the end of the day, are not really what’s best for our body. People with digestive issues or with food intolerances should be especially careful with those kinds of products.
As I said earlier, some brands make products that are better than others and that are actually pretty healthy, but there are not a lot, and you have to do your research and look at the ingredient list when you shop. If the ingredients list is short and you can recognize and pronounce the ingredients, it’s probably not a bad choice. Just try to stay away from long ingredient list, especially those that include soy, gluten, and milk proteins. Now, if it’s only for an occasion or to satisfy a meat craving once in a while, it’s not a big deal! I’m referring more to people who consume those kinds of products regularly. Ideally, the best choice would be to make your own patty or veggie “meat” with fresh ingredients at home.
It’s important to understand that if you are on a vegetarian diet, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s healthy. If you mainly eat processed carbs and processed foods, including a lot of fake meats, this is not a healthy diet, even if you exclude animal products. You would actually probably be healthier by including some quality animal proteins in your diet rather than eating a lot of carbs and processed foods. When someone decides to become vegetarian, I believe that it’s important to have some basic knowledge and education in nutrition in order to make healthy food choices and avoid nutritional deficiencies. There are many health benefits of eating a plant-based diet, but a healthy vegetarian diet emphasis on fresh and whole foods rather than what’s processed.