Q: Hi Gretchen, a few weeks ago I tried this vegan mock meat at your Eco Design Fair stand, it tastes surprisingly good! I still can’t stop eating meat but I think I am willing to give it a try, though is this really healthy? —– Can do with Mock Meat
A: Dear Can do with Mock Meat, Overall I am not a big fan of meat substitutes since most of them tend to be highly processed. Processed food is processed food whether it is animal based or vegan and contains harmful additives. Despite the fact that these mock meats are vegan, most tend to be very high in sodium and can do a number on your blood pressure.
I do see the value of vegan meat substitutes in that I see them as stepping stones for those who can’t envision a life without meat (or as an occasional “treat” for those who are already vegans). Transitioning to a vegan diet can be difficult for many people who are used to eating the texture of meat at nearly every meal. In this instance I give the reader the green light to try these “mock” meats as a means to see that it is very possible to eat a vegan meal and not miss the meat!
Not all fake meats are the same. The highly processed ready-to-eat fake meats I refer to above tend to be made from a combination of wheat protein and soy protein isolate.
There are meat replacements that are healthy alternatives and not highly processed. One such meat substitute is seitan. Seitan is made from wheat flour and derives its protein from wheat gluten. Tempeh is another healthy vegan protein source that is commonly used as a meat substitute and is made from fermented soybeans. Both seitan and tempeh are very versatile and taste amazing with the right marinades and preparation methods.
I encourage you to derive your protein from whole-food vegan protein sources versus the highly processed ready to eat varieties commonly found in supermarkets. Between tempeh, seitan, tofu, legumes, and whole grains, and fortified plant-based milks, it is very easy to derive enough protein from a vegan diet.
Peace and health,
Gretchen Tseng is a Nutrition Specialist with Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. At a young age she experienced a series of illnesses which propelled her to seek nutrition based solutions. Gretchen is absolutely passionate about sharing the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and can be found doing so as the Editor of Chic Vegan and through her website Veggie Grettie at www.veggiegrettie.com . Gretchen lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and 4 legged best bud. She dreams of living on a farm someday surrounded by animals and the most amazing organic garden she can imagine.