With the rising popularity of plant-based meats, you’ve surely heard of them – and likely even tasted them in the form of burgers and sandwiches.
What’s shocked the world about plant-based meats is just how good they taste. Unlike traditional “mock meat” options, this isn’t simply fried tofu or dough, coloured and sliced to look like drumsticks and char siew – these meats actually look and taste like animal meat! For restaurants, this is a game-changer.
But one question remains. What exactly is inside these delicious “meats”, and are they healthy to consume?
What are plant-based meats?
While every plant-based meat manufacturer has their own unique recipes and processes, in general, plant-based meats contain ingredients such as soy and wheat-based proteins, peas, plant oils, and other ingredients that come from plants.
Plant-based meats offer new and exciting options to diners who want to eat tasty, meat-based dishes, but are concerned about the perceived risks associated with eating meat – mostly related to health, animal welfare and environmental considerations.
And although the burger is currently the star of the “plant-based meat dish” revolution, suppliers of plant-based meats are expanding their offerings – so restaurants can now offer a whole menu of dishes made from plant-based meats. The Vegetarian Butcher, for example, offers beef and chicken patties, beef meatballs, as well as chicken nuggets and chunks that can be used in a wide array of dishes.
Are plant-based meats healthy?
When it comes to alternative meat options, the big question that’s on everyone’s mind is “Are plant-based meats healthy?”
Here’s the good news, they are. In fact, plant-based meats even beat animal meat in several ways:
- Lower in cholesterol: Plant-based meats are generally lower in cholesterol than their animal counterparts, which is a useful selling point to attract health-conscious diners.
- Fibre content: Being plant-based, these meats generally contain more fibre than traditional meats (which don’t contain any fibre).
- No growth hormones or antibiotics: One of the reasons why diners look for meat alternatives is a concern about what farms may feed to cows to help them to grow – especially growth hormones and antibiotics. With plant-based meats, these concerns are naturally removed, as no animal meat is involved – only natural plant proteins.
- Plant-based nutrients: The ingredients in plant-based meats offer diners a dose of plant-based nutrients and vitamins, while reducing common concerns among animal meat eaters – especially those who eat processed animal meats and red meats, which are classified as Group 1 and Group 2A carcinogens (and are linked to cancer).
A fantastic alternative (though not necessarily a replacement)
With all these positives, are plant-based meats better than animal meat in every single way?
Not completely. Animal meats do have their advantages too, such as providing diners with animal-based nutrients. What’s more, diners who want their animal meat, will still choose animal meat – even if the alternative tastes just as good.
But plant-based meats aren’t here to replace animal meats, they’re here to complement them in your menu. As a chef, plant-based meats provide you with a fantastic opportunity for you to expand your menu and attract more diners – by offering both animal meat and plant-based meat options in your restaurant.