Plant based meats… seems like a contradictory concept, doesn’t it? How can something be plant based, and meat? And how can you possibly get the nutritional content found in animal meat products from a plant? I am here to tell you, it is possible. Not only is it possible, but it is quickly on the rise in becoming the preferred method of “meat” intake. The chart below shows the surpassing sales of plant based meats to regular meats in just 2020 alone.
So, what exactly is a plant based meat? Let’s explore some of the different options that are available on the market today.
Tofu seems to be the first product that comes to mind when an individual thinks of plant based meats. Tofu is a soy food derived from soya. Soya milk is curdled and pressed into a solid block (4). The block is drained from remaining liquid and packaged for consumption. Tofu is high in protein with about 8g per 3oz serving and is the only meat alternative that is a complete protein (4). Yes, that’s right, all nine essential amino acids packed into one super food! Soy has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and help increase HDL (the “good” kind) to help improve cholesterol levels and decrease heart disease risk (4). Want to give tofu a try? It can easily be found in your local grocery store. Pay attention to the label as it will help guide you in the firmness of the tofu. Different firmness levels yield different textured foods. Think firm tofu for animal meat alternatives and soft tofu for animal by-product alternatives (ex. milk and dressings). Because of tofu’s smooth texture and subtle flavor, it easily can be prepared just like animal based meats and will take on the flavoring of whatever seasoning you are using for cooking!
You’ve probably heard of tofu before reading this article, right? Well have you ever heard of Tempeh? Tempeh, just like tofu, is typically derived from soybeans (though it can come from other beans as well). It is a traditional fermented Indonesian food that is high in protein (15g per 3oz!) and prebiotics alike (6). Tempeh has a firm texture and can taste slightly nutty. Similar to tofu, tempeh can be prepared just like animal based meats to take on whatever flavors you are cooking with and can be fried, baked, sautéed, or grilled (6).
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit found in South East Asia, Brazil, and Africa (5). It’s tougher texture and relatively neutral flavor makes it a great alternative for animal based meats. Jackfruit may not be the highest in protein with just 1g per 2.65oz serving, but it is packed with fiber (5) which can help keep you fuller longer. Jackfruit can be commonly found as an alternative for pulled pork, as its semi sweet flavor really adds to barbeque sauces.
These are just a few examples of an ever growing market of products. Companies like Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger are on a mission to standardize having plant based meat products as an alternative wherever animal meat products are sold. They have partnered with companies like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks Coffee to give variety to menu items and to give plant based meats a place on the menu.
Stay tuned, plant based meats are a healthy, delicious alternative to animal based meat products that we will only see more and more of in our daily lives.
- Slade P. If you build it, will they eat it? Consumer preferences for plant-based and cultured meat burgers. Appetite. 2018 Jun 1;125:428-437. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.02.030. Epub 2018 Mar 5. PMID: 29501683.
- Rizzo G, Baroni L. Soy, Soy Foods and Their Role in Vegetarian Diets. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 5;10(1):43. doi: 10.3390/nu10010043. PMID: 29304010; PMCID: PMC5793271.
- Nierenberg, A. (2020, May 22). Plant-Based ‘Meats’ Catch On in the Pandemic. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/dining/plant-based-meats-coronavirus.html
- Lewin, J. (n.d.). The health benefits of tofu. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-tofu
- Largeman-Roth,France (RDN) (2020, February 07). What is jackfruit? All about this healthy vegan pulled pork substitute. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from https://www.today.com/food/what-jackfruit-how-eat-it-bbq-pulled-pork-recipe-t106938
- Link, R. (2017). Why Tempeh Is Incredibly Healthy and Nutritious. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tempeh
Edited by preRD intern, Lauren Gatto