Switching to a plant-based diet can be quite difficult. For starters, you may find yourself craving familiar tastes of your meat-based goodies such as sausages or steaks, which may not have a vegetarian alternative.
However, that all stands to change with vegan meat. Dietitian and meat technologist Lakshita Jain, founder of NUTR says, "Plant-based meats are products designed to intimate meat. Plant-based meat is also called mock meat or vegan meat. They look and taste similar to the real meat, making them easy to substitute and add in recipes."
She adds that there are a variety of meat substitutes in the market made from soy, green peas, jackfruit, wheat gluten (Seitan), and beans of all types. Most of the plant-based meat is mixed with whole grains, nuts, and seeds to provide a varied texture to mimic meat and enhance nutritional value.
While the mock meat is cruelty-free, there are a few health benefits associated with it too. Animal meat and dairy products usually lack fibre and natural phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, unlike meatless alternatives.
"Based on calories alone, the substitutes are lower in calories and cholesterol than the regular chicken meal. It can also help in reducing fat intake by 80 per cent compared to conventional meat and is cholesterol-free, lower in saturated fats and higher in fibre."
Who can benefit from plant-based meat:
Mock meat options are great for people who are advised to avoid or limit their red meat consumption. Diabetes, cholesterol and hormonal imbalance, and PCOS are few conditions where going meat-free can be beneficial.
The disadvantages of plant-based meat:
Cruelty-free meat contains significantly more sodium than the regular chicken meal as well as other highly processed ingredients like modified food starch, cultured dextrose, and soy protein isolate. So, it is important to read the label and avoid it if it contains edible refined oil such as palm oil, sugar, modified food starch, and colourants as its first three ingredients. Also, check sodium and fat percentage before buying.
Lakshita says, "There is no black and white answer to whether plant-based meat is healthier. Vegan substitutes or mock meat can be equally unhealthy if not had in moderation. It is best to limit the intake to 2-3 times a week."