If you have always wanted to make the move towards vegetables, for health reasons or otherwise, there could be no better time than this. Nowadays, in addition to vegan food options, most restaurants and stores allow you the option of ‘plant-based meats.’
In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about plant-based meats.
What Is Plant-Based Meat?
Plant-based meat, just as the name suggests, is meat that is made from plants. The term itself is an oxymoron, and upon first reading it, you might wonder, how exactly can meat be ‘plant-based?’ Well, nowadays, the world has been moving towards healthier food options in general. For example, there has been a massive switch towards organic food, gluten-free food options, as well as vegan food.
It isn’t altogether surprising then that plant-based meat is also rapidly becoming the new ‘it’ thing. Plant-based meat is designed to look, feel, and taste as near to actual meat as possible. The point is for meat lovers and vegetarians alike to be satisfied by how it tastes. It is also designed to cook in a way that is similar to actual meat.
Plant-based meat options are available in a variety of brands and in many different forms. For example, you can find this option in the form of sausages, cold cuts, nuggets, or even burger patties.
Veggie burgers have been a thing for a long time, but with the advent of this new type of ‘meat,’ many burgers you find at restaurants are not veggie burgers, but actually burgers made up of plant-based meat.
This new type of meat is drastically changing food industries everywhere. In fact, just in the United States alone, the sales of this kind of meat have risen by 26% in just one year. In the whole of last year, revenue from the purchase of plant-based meats in the US amounted to approximately $850 million.
As plant-based meats are predicted to bring in increased revenue, more and more restaurants and grocery stores will want to offer plant-based meat brands and products. In fact, there are already a number of plant-based meat brands available in stores that you can choose from.
If you have always been a vegetarian or if you have been wanting to switch to the vegetarian option, this will certainly be a time that you will want to look forward to! Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, ‘flexitarian’ diets are still gaining popularity. That is, even meat lovers are willing to be flexible when it comes to their diets.
Types of Plant-Based Meats
Within the past year, the market for plant-based foods has been bombarded with all sorts of ‘veggie’ options and alternatives. Two of the most common and most popular plant-based meat brands are – Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.
Both of these brands offer burger patties but also other things such as sausages, nuggets, etc. These products are supposed to resemble actual meat both in terms of look and taste.
The brands are now experimenting and venturing into making ‘fishless fish’ and even steaks made from plants. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Plant-based steaks. But once launched, these new ventures are sure to be a success. A steak is a steak, after all!
Other brands that are also focusing on making plant-based meats include Abbott’s Butcher, LightLife, and Before the Butcher, among others. These brands focus on making products such as burger patties, crumbles, nuggets, etc.
When it comes to nuggets, there are even brands that are focusing specifically on making chicken-less nuggets. In fact, a number of these brands have started to remove the ‘e’ from chicken nuggets on their packets so as to call them chick’n nuggets. The removal of this ‘e’ implies that they are made from plants, not meat.
There are a number of brands specializing in this area. These include Morning Star, Nuggs, and Raised & Rooted. All of these brands are making meat-less nuggets, of course, but also other variations, such as flavored wings, for example.
Each of these brands is trying to make the alternative such as delicious and flavorful as the real thing! The interesting bit is that it isn’t only about these brands that are coming out. There is so much more to it. Even mainstream restaurants have begun to include plant-based meats in their best-selling food varieties. Burger King, the popular food franchise, introduced a ‘meatless’ version of its world-famous ‘whopper.’ Even the furniture giant Ikea has introduced ‘meatless meatballs’ for their customers who come furniture shopping and get hungry in that time.
Because of the rapid popularity gained by these plant-based meat alternatives, many research agencies are concluding that in the next 20 years, only about 40% of our meat will actually come from animal products. The rest will be plant-based meat.
Suffice it to say, times are certainly changing!
What Is Plant-Based Meat Made From?
We now know that plant-based meat options are now increasingly popular. But what exactly those plant-based meat options are made from is a whole other question altogether.
Different brands, of course, resort to slightly different ingredients, but we are going to be focusing on the main brands out there – Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, among others.
So what does it really mean to have ‘beef-less’ beef or ‘chicken-less’ chicken or even ‘fish-less’ fish?
Beyond Meat tries to get a ‘meaty’ flavor into its products using a combination of beet juice and pea protein. This develops a meat bleeding effect into most of their products so that whoever consumes them firmly believes that they are eating meat.
Beyond Meat apparently uses 4 primary ingredients in their products. These include refined coconut oil, canola oil (expeller-pressed), water, and pea protein.
Other ingredients that their products might or might not include are sunflower oil, potato starch, yeast, cellulose from bamboo. Maltodextrin, acids (citrus, acetic, succinic), food starch, natural flavorings, beet root juice and annatto for coloring.
Impossible Burger, on the other hand, claims that heme is its main ingredient. Heme is what makes its products get the meaty taste that customers crave. In fact, their burgers and other products are as close to real-life as possible.
Heme refers to a type of necessary molecule that can easily be found in each living thing, animal, or plant. Impossible Burger makes use of yeast that is genetically engineered, to, in turn, make the molecule ‘heme.’
Heme is typically a safe molecule and is also sustainable, for the most part.
Other key ingredients you might find in Impossible Burger products are potato protein, wheat-based protein, and coconut oil.
Soy-Based Vs Soy-Free Plant-Based Products
Soy comes from soybean, a legume that can be eaten processed or unprocessed. Soy and soy-based products have been popular for thousands of years. In fact, many products that we purchase make use of soy as a key ingredient without us even realizing it.
While some believe soy to be perfectly alright for their health, others talk about the negatives of soy and how it can be detrimental to our health. Just as people are moving away from gluten-based products, and towards products that are gluten-free, similarly, many people are now advocating for products that are also soy-free.
In fact, a number one reason people are moving towards plant-based meats is also that many of these products are soy-free. Some people need to avoid soy altogether, not because of any health factors per se, but because they might be allergic to soy altogether. Not all plant-based products will be soy-free, so you will have to be very careful when reading the labels to make sure that the ones you opt for are indeed soy-free.
Amongst the two brands described above, for example, one of them openly markets their products as being soy-free (Beyond Meat), while Impossible Burger has made it pretty clear that their products do contain soy. Beyond Meat and Sunflower Family USA are two brands that are openly selling products that are soy-free.
With so many options to choose from, it’s really then up to you what you decide to go for! Just be careful to read the label before choosing your product or products of choice.
Oils As An Active Ingredient In Plant-Based Meats
Most plant-based meat brands use two types of oils in their products – canola oil and refined coconut oil.
Refined Coconut Oil
Because of its many health benefits, coconut oil, especially the refined variety, is considered an ideal sort of raw ingredient for plant-based meats. Coconut oil has been proven to be healthier than many other oils, especially for those with heart problems, cholesterol, or blood sugar level problems.
Coconut oil is considered healthier than many other oils because it has a high concentration of saturated but ‘good’ fats. It is made up of ‘medium-chained’ fats that are actually good for your health. In fact, many people who are now campaigning moving towards a healthier lifestyle are opting for coconut oil or olive oil because these are considered the ‘healthier’ oils. It’s no wonder then that brands such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are also using coconut oil as their key ingredient.
At Maverik Oils, we specialize in all sorts of oils, especially coconut and canola. In fact, we have a variety of coconut oils available, including organic coconut oil, refined coconut oil, etc.
Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil
Canola oil is another ‘healthy’ oil that is commonly used as an ingredient in plant-based meats. This oil comes from the rapeseed plant. Just like coconut oil, canola oil is also rich in levels of ‘good fats.’
Furthermore, canola oil has a rich concentration of fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6). Canola oil is commonly used both for cooking at home, as well as for commercial purposes. At Maverik oils, there are many varieties of canola oil, including expeller-pressed, refined, etc.
Are Plant-Based Meats Healthier Than Conventional Ones?
The question remains – are plant-based diets actually healthier than meat-based ones? The answer isn’t very definitive. In terms of calorie count, plant-based meats aren’t all that different than meat in its traditional form.
Perhaps the greatest difference between the two is that unlike actual meat, plant-based meat doesn’t usually contain cholesterol. Cholesterol can be deadly, especially for those over the age of 60 who already suffer from heart problems, or problems with their blood sugar level or blood pressure.
Furthermore, unlike actual meat, plant-based meat also contains fiber and, in this way, might actually be superior to actual meat, especially for those who suffer from digestive problems. For Americans, switching to a plant-based diet will have incredible health benefits because Americans are consuming too much red meat as it is. Too much red meat is the number one factor that accounts for heart problems and even heart attacks.
Plant-based meat options are certainly the environmentally-friendly, sustainable way to go. Making the switch is entirely up to you, of course, but there’s no denying the incredible impact that plant-based meats are having the world over.
This guide on everything you need to know about plant-based meats should certainly help you decide which brands, if any, of plant-based meats you want to opt for.