The popularity of plant-based meat is growing by the day and due to good reasons. This is mainly due to it being a healthier option than conventional meat that is known to be a major contributor to different types of cardiovascular diseases. Apart from this, it is an environment friendly and sustainable alternative. Most food products that come under this category have authentic aroma, flavor, and texture. Because of this, they can help with reducing the consumption of conventional meat. However, people are still doubtful about this, and the purpose of this article is to give you a better understanding of plant-based meat.
What Is Plant-Based Meat?
Plant-based meat is a healthy alternative to conventional meat, and it is made by using plant materials that mimic meat in smell, texture, appearance, and taste. Some of the popular products that come under this category are plant-based burgers, sausages, nuggets, ground meat, crumbles, faux seafood, etc. According to the founder of a reputed plant-based burger company, “Cows convert plant materials into the meat that is used for producing burgers, sausages, and so on. So, plant-based meat products are produced by reverse engineering burgers.”
What Are The Different Types Of Plant-Based Meat?
There are mainly two types of plant-based meats: whole muscle meat and restructured meat. Plant-based whole muscle meat products resemble a steak, chicken breast, and other types of such animal products. Some new companies are trying to design plant-based steak by using 3D printed structure i.e. framework, pea and rice proteins, and other plant-based alternatives to give authentic muscle structure that offers the feel of real steak. Plant-based restructured meat is designed to mimic meat products like meatballs, burgers, nuggets, sausages, and ground beef. Besides, you should also know that these products are gaining popularity among customers, and they are sold under the section of meat in supermarkets.
How Are Plant-Based Meat Made?
The ingredients used for making plant-based meat varies according to the type of meat being produced. Some of the common ingredients used for making it are legumes and grains for their fiber and protein; starches are converted into concentrates, isolates, and flours. These ingredients are made to mimic the properties of meat through a process known as extrusion. Here, they are hydrated, sheared, and cooked; this also removes undesirable flavors, aroma, and textures. Furthermore, the starting point in making any plant-based meat product is choosing the right type of plant protein.
Aside from protein, plant-based meat products are made more realistic by the extrusion of starches and fibers in legumes and grains. Besides, plant-based whole muscle meat products can achieve a fibrous composition that is more realistic. Another method used for making plant-based ingredients that mimic regular meat is fermentation. For instance, bioengineered yeast can be used for creating plant-based heme molecules that resemble blood; it can be used in plant-based burgers. Likewise, coconut oil is also used because it resembles the fat found in animal-based food products.
Is Plant-Based Meat Healthier Than Conventional Meat?
Scientific studies have proven time and again that excessive consumption of red meat and products made using it is bad for health. They raise the triglyceride levels in the blood, increases the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions. Also, the methods used for cooking bacon, sausages, steak, etc., i.e. barbecuing, deep-frying, and so on, produce carcinogenic compounds. So, consuming them increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers.
Plant-based meat is a healthier choice as they have high fiber content and contain no cholesterol. Most omnivore diets are poor in their dietary fiber content. Also, most plant-based meat producing companies fortify their products with minerals and vitamins that plant-based foods lack, i.e. vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, etc. Moreover, plant-based meat is safe compared to conventional meat because animals in factory farms are injected with hormones and antibiotics.
Is Plant-Based Meat Better For The Environment?
Apart from plant-based meat’s health benefits, it is environmentally friendly and sustainable compared to factory farms. Animal farming has been encroaching on forest lands and uses more than 75% of the agricultural land while producing less than 20% of the global food supply. Also, you must know that beef production requires huge areas of pastureland, and this is contributing to global deforestation. This in turn increases the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and accelerates climate change. Plant-based meat production has a less damaging effect on the environment, and its emission levels are significantly lower. Moreover, there is no danger of underground water pollution.
Are Plant-Based Meats Vegetarian?
Of course, plant-based meats are vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan. This is because some of them use dairy products or emulsified eggs to enhance flavor and texture. But you must be careful when ordering them from restaurants because in some places they use animal-based products like mayonnaise, sauces, etc., for topping or dressing. So, you must enquire about this when eating or ordering from these places.
These are the important facts that you must know about plant-based meat, and we hope that this article was of use to you.