Is plant-based meat good for your health?

How is plant-based meat made?

Plant-based alternatives to meat for vegetarians

The consumption of plant proteins as a replacement for meat has existed for a long time, for example in the form of:

  • soy products like tofu or tempeh. These foods are often richer in protein than pulses (around 15 g per 100 g compared to 7-9 g per 100 g). Tempeh is made from whole soybeans; it is richer in fiber than plain tofu;
  • seitan : a vanilla substitute made from wheat proteins (gluten). Seitan provides 20 to 22 g of protein per 100 g. But, as Fabien Badariotti and Léa Lebrun explain in The best way to eat plant-based, “Seitan nonetheless remains a processed food (group 3 of the NOVA classification) or even, depending on the recipe, ultra-processed (group 4 of the NOVA classification) rather low in fiber (1-1.5 g/100 g), consumption of which should therefore be limited to a few meals per week as a substitute for legumes or in combination.”

The composition of vegetable meat

You will find in the table below a comparison of the nutritional compositions of seitan, tofu and ground steak.

Nutritional composition per 100 g. Source: Anses CIQUAL tables
Food Calories Proteins Lipids Carbohydrates Fibers
Ground steak 15% raw fat 209 20.2g 14.1g 0.47g 0
Seitan 134 20.6g 2.5g 6.74g 0.9g
Tofu 148 14.7g 8.5g 2.87g <0.5g

The protein content of plant-based meat therefore approaches that of beef. Additionally, plant-based meat can provide some fiber.

Why eat plant-based meat?

For vegetarians, plant-based meat offers a protein alternative to animal meat. It also has advantages for the environment and can be seen as a militant act, making it possible not to support an agricultural model based on intensive animal breeding.

Plant-based meat can also appear as a way to limit your intake of red meat and cold meats, which are suspected of having harmful effects on health. Indeed, long-term consumption of red meat increases the risk of cancer.

What is the best plant-based meat?

Plant-based meat: what are the risks?

The main problem we have with plant-based meat from the supermarket is that they are often ultra-processed foods (ULTs). However, the consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with numerous health problems, including obesity. According to a study carried out on the French Nutrinet-Santé cohort, a vegan and vegetarian diet often leads to consuming more ultra-processed foods.

Plant-based meat substitutes are often made from rehydrated soy or wheat proteins which allow manufacturers to increase the protein content of their products. To make plant-based substitutes have the appearance, texture and taste of meat, manufacturers add additives: read the labels carefully before buying!

Vegetable steak: the best supermarket brands

It is best to choose products that contain legumes (lentils, soya, dried beans, peas, etc.) as a main source of protein. Or even whole grains or pseudo-cereals (quinoa, oats, buckwheat, bulgur, etc.). You may have to make a compromise: products made from legumes and/or whole grains are less rich in protein than those containing soy, pea or even wheat proteins.

Discover our comparison of plant-based meats from the supermarket: “Plant-based meats”: which ones to choose? (subscribers)

When it comes to fats, quality rather than quantity should take precedence. Olive and coconut oil remain safe bets, and sunflower oil should be avoided if possible. It will also be necessary to favor products containing non-hydrogenated vegetable oils to avoid the consumption of trans fatty acids.

An example of a meat substitute to avoid: HAPPYVORE plant-based & gourmet steaks

Ingredients : water, textured pea protein (pea protein, pea extract), sunflower oil, bean protein, potato starch, vinegar, vegetable fiber, spice extract, natural flavors, salt, beet juice concentrate , BARLEY malt extract, maltodextrin, acidity regulator: citric acid, antioxidant: rosemary extract, stabilizer: methylcellulose.

Nutritional values ​​per 100 g : 221 kcal / fat: 16 g (including 2 g of saturated fatty acids) / carbohydrates: 3.2 g (including 0.5 g of sugars) / dietary fiber: 4.2 g / proteins: 14 g / salt: 1 g.

Comment : a product of ultra-processing, with textured proteins, flavors, additives… A product of industrial chemistry!

An example of plant products to prefer: Tempeh to cook SOY

Ingredients : precooked hulled soybeans 99.3%, cider vinegar, ferment.

Nutritional values ​​per 100 g: 179 kcal / fat: 9.4 g including 1.8 g of saturated fatty acids / carbohydrates: 0.5 g including 0.4 g of sugars / proteins: 19 g / salt: 0.09 g / dietary fiber: 8.1g.

Comment : a reduced list of ingredients, a good intake of protein and fiber.

How to make plant-based meat?

A homemade plant-based meat recipe

Here we offer you a vegetable steak recipe from the book The best way to eat plant-basedby Léa Lebrun and Fabien Badariotti.

Vegetable steak with red beans

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 200 g red beans
  • ½ bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 50g oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • Cumin (at will)
  • Olive oil


Mix all the ingredients. Leave the resulting mixture to rest for 20 minutes.

Form into pucks weighing around 75 g (you can freeze them).

Brown the pucks in olive oil in a pan.

Proteins: 6 g for 1 puck

Where to buy plant-based meat?

In supermarkets, organic stores, Asian grocery stores

To discover vegetarian burger recipes, read: FATbuleux burgers

Read an EXTRACT>>

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