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Fake meat makes promises it can’t keep

Plant-based meat alternatives are supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread (or, at least, steak). But while they’re better for the environment, they aren’t necessarily better for you.

Because of their “green” reputation – plant-based meat alternatives (PBMAs) use substantially less space and water than their natural meat alternatives – it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking they’re healthy.

But PBMAs, like the Impossible Whopper, are about as good for you as the fast-food products they’re intended to replace, according to vegan nutritionist Sami Bloom.

“They’re usually quite high in sodium, and some of them can get close to the saturated fat content of meat,” Sami told Wellness Daily.

“They can have little fibre compared to wholefood varieties, but then again compared to meat they have a little bit more fibre. And then calories-wise, they’re quite similar to meat.”

PBMAs do have some positive health effects. They can be engineered to contain more vitamins or minerals than might be found in natural meat, and don’t contain pathogens – like salmonella and E. coli – that natural meat potentially can.

PBMAs also don’t contain the antibiotics present in natural meat due to their widespread use in animal feed, and are more ethical.

But they still aren’t as good for you as a regular plant-based diet.

“They’re occasional or treat foods. Perhaps once every fortnight,” says Sami.

Those interested in PBMAs should consider making their own at home.

“You’re better off making your own burgers from peas and beans. That would be the best alternative if you wanted the textural comparison…throwing a cup of lentils into your meal, or making lentil bolognaise, or having a tofu steak with seasonings that replicate the meat taste.”

“That would be the better way to do it than to have a packaged food that has 20-plus ingredients in it.”

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