Are New Beef Substitutes Any Better Than Red Meat?
One of the biggest food trends over the past several years has been the explosion of vegetarian, non-animal-product meat substitutes. Known by several brand names these substitutes have been touted as a healthier alternative to red meat. However, are these meat substitutes truly any better for you, and how should you consume them?
It is important to remember that red meat itself is not necessarily bad for you. Lean red meat, straight from the butcher, ideally pasture-raised and eaten in moderation, is a great source of protein and provides amino acids that a vegetarian diet simply cannot. Of course, for many of us, this meat also tastes fantastic. Bonus! It is the overconsumption of red meat that can have detrimental effects. Certain cuts of meat are high in saturated fat. Many meats are highly processed, and this has been linked to cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and more. This is especially true for everyone’s favorite dish, the hamburger.
It’s no wonder, therefore, a vegetarian alternative that tastes unbelievably like red meat was high on the list of food evolutions. On the surface, this seems like the best of both worlds. It eliminates many of the issues associated with meat products while also offering the taste and texture of this American favorite. However, it is important to look at the nutritional label as getting from plant matter to meat-taste requires a great deal of additives and processing.
As a result, meat substitutes are not necessarily a perfect food. In fact, they can contain quite a bit of sodium and saturated fats making them far less healthy than you may have thought. Further, these meat substitutes often give us the false sense that we can cheat a little bit with what else we eat. For example, we may opt for fries with our meat alternative burger thinking that we’ve saved so much in calories and fat, we may decide on a soda or sugary drink.
Ultimately, what this shows us is no matter the food, it is important to moderate. Too much of a good thing can indeed be bad and can still lead to weight regain or lack of weight loss. Further, what we eat alongside these supposedly healthy items can make a big difference.
The Bottom Line
If you like steak, we encourage you to enjoy it on occasion. If you love the taste and idea of meat alternatives, we want you to enjoy that too but, once again just on occasion. The key to a successful long-term bariatric lifestyle is moderation without starvation or deprivation. Giving yourself enjoyment of foods you like in small quantities will make you happier and healthier over the long term.