Friend or Faux: What You Need to Know About Fake Meats

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Vegan Chili Dog       Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

My husband reported this morning, upon returning from our nearby Whole Foods Market that Beyond Meat has added bratwurst and breakfast sausages to their lineup of meat-free alternatives.

My first thought:  “Great! A triumph for animal activism!!”

My second thought: “Either meat-free or meat-full, sausage is a food high in calories, salt and fat and low in nutritional value, no matter how you slice it.”

The Plant-based Diet is receiving a lot of press these days, due in part to recent documentaries like “What The Health” currently streaming to billions of homes through services like Netflix. It’s being heavily promoted in best-selling books like Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die”. The idea is catching on. At least in theory.

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Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

It is easy to understand why so many would-be vegetarians declare “I can’t afford to go plant-based!” and just keep on doing what they’re doing. No, you can’t afford to go plant-based if you are simply switching out your meats and cheeses for plant-based/vegan meats and cheeses. Because they cost three to four times more than real meats and cheeses. And the real goal is to get off the meats and cheeses and eat more plants, for real. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts.

A food product can be labeled vegan, the ingredients all free of animal-derived components and yet be about the unhealthiest thing you could eat. Oreo cookies are a good example of vegan junk food. Oreos are plant-based!

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Plant-Based Baked Goods                   Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The common argument for faux meats is that they are a “transitional” food for those new to meat-free eating. After conducting my own personal studies over the course of the past five years, I have come to the conclusion that they do nothing to ease the transition to a healthy, whole foods diet.

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What they actually do is become an obstacle to healthier whole-food protein choices such as beans, legumes and potatoes.  Because they taste so damned good! And as technology moves on, they just keep tasting better and better. These products are highly processed, high in fat and salt in most cases–manipulating our taste buds with artificially engineered flavors. Consequently, simple natural foods taste dull in comparison.

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If you want to improve your health, reclaim your naturally balanced weight, increase energy and focus…all of this is possible with a whole food plant-based diet. Whole food being the important factor. This means buying and consuming foods that have five ingredients or less. Yes, you read right. Check your cupboard, your fridge, your desk drawer at work. How do your plant-based food choices stack up?

There are really no shortcuts to better health. There are no super foods. Sustainable health is attained by a lifestyle balance between the foods we eat and the way we treat our bodies and minds every day.

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Should we never eat faux meats? Do I sometimes eat them? Absolutely. Most dieticians and nutritionists agree that a ratio of 80% natural, whole foods to 20% “discretionary” foods is a good balance for sustainable health. That’s what I’m shooting for. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

 

 

12 thoughts on “Friend or Faux: What You Need to Know About Fake Meats

  1. Love this! And agree. It’s about taking the time to honor yourself by cooking and discovering all the yummy ways to eat that don’t involve a giant piece of protein as the star. I have been trying these various proteins both for curiousity and because I still sometimes crave the traditional western plate setup. I try to keep to consuming these foods in moderation though and opt for the legumes, seeds, nuts, beans and veggies.

  2. A thought-provoking post on a subject which I am not particularly experienced in. I have stayed away from faux meat mostly because I don’t care for the “meaty” texture, but every now and then, I do want a burger-like meal and most commercial products are too salty for me. I have vegan friends who are big fans of Beyond Meat and I have enjoyed meals they have created for me using these products. But by and large, I have not thought about this issue and you have given me the chance to do so.

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