What’s the Deal With Plant-Based Meat?

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, and supermarkets have taken the hint by placing more plant based alternatives for meat and dairy products on the shelves. People of the veggie community now have more options than ever before. But what exactly are these new meatless products?

The most popular addition to plant-based meat products are the Impossible and Beyond meat burgers. These burgers have taken the food industry by storm and can be found in large chains such as Burger King, White Castle, Qdoba, and Red Robin, in addition to many more restaurants at select locations.

Image result for impossible burgerSome corporations such as Whole Foods and Chipotle have criticized these meatless products, saying that they are too processed. While these alternatives replace the traditional burger, they are not necessarily a healthier option or lower in calories.

The key ingredient of these fake meat burgers is heme, a molecule found in every living plant and animal that creates the meat flavor. Through genetically engineered yeast, companies can mass produce heme to produce meat-like plant products. 

On AU’s campus the new dining option WONK burger has a beyond burger available to students for a meal swipe. Many students are thrilled about the new option and vegetarians and meat-lovers alike have enjoyed the new alternative.

The university dining service lists online all the locations around campus where vegan and vegetarian options can be found, featuring Einstein Bagels and Starbucks, along with the new retail locations Pom and Honey, BUILD pizza, and Create. 

For the Terrace Dining Room there is an extensive list of all the vegan and vegetarian dishes that are served in each section. All dishes are labeled with icons saying if it is vegetarian, vegan, or balanced, meaning that those foods are limited in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Each label also includes a full list of ingredients. 

While brands such as Impossible and Beyond Meat have surged in popularity, other brands continue to maintain popularity in supermarkets. One such brand is Amy’s, an organic food company that specializes in vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian options. 

If you are looking for meatless options to replace chicken tenders and nuggets, then the company Gardein might be a perfect match. They offer a wide range of products from meatless chick’n strips, sliders, cutlets, and wings to plant-based burgers and fishless filet.

Another popular option is MorningStar Farms, which features many real tasting meatless breakfast options and classic foods such as burgers, pulled pork, and sausage.

When it comes to starting a vegetarian or vegan diet there are both benefits and drawbacks that come with cutting out meat.

Some benefits include that non-meat eaters often have a lower body weight than those who do eat meat. Vegans and vegetarians also tend to have healthier cholesterol levels and have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer.

A vegetarian diet can still be unhealthy if it is very snack and junk food heavy. People participating in these diets must make sure that they are receiving enough nutrients such as iron, calcium, and protein, to name a few.

One large reason many people are trying to consume less meat is that meat production generates an extreme amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Shifting towards a more plant-based diet is considered to be an essential step towards combating climate change, soil, air and water pollution, among other environmental issues. 

 

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