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Ready-to-eat meat substitutes: how healthy are they?

  1. On average, we have to eat more plant-based foods, says the Health Council, for example. The reason is clear: plant foods, for example, contain more fiber, more phytonutrients and less saturated fat. So a steak less every now and then can't hurt!

  1. But what do you eat? Many people opt for ready-to-eat meat substitutes when they do a day without meat. But how healthy is that exactly, and what should you pay attention to when making that choice? We'll discuss it in this article!

What are meat substitutes?

  1. To start with, the basics: what exactly do we mean by meat substitutes? That question seems simple enough; after all, most supermarkets have devoted a whole shelf to this category. Still, it's a bit more complicated than most people think.

  1. Officially, meat substitutes are only products that can really be a good substitute for meat. That means they must contain the substances that we usually get from meat. The most important of these are proteins, iron, vitamin B1 and vitamin B12. And you won't find that in all ready-to-eat meat substitutes!

  1. Vegetable-based products in particular do not always contain the nutrients that you would expect from a meat substitute. For example, think of vegetable balls or mushroom burgers. It is therefore always useful to check the label for this.

Healthy ready-to-eat meat substitutes

  1. What would you like to find on that label? In any case, the following must be contained in ready-to-eat meat substitutes:

  1. In addition, there are a few substances that you would rather not have too much in your meat substitutes. Pay particular attention to the following points:

Meat substitutes have been modified

  1. That last list immediately indicates the main problem with ready-to-eat meat substitutes. They are often still heavily processed products, with all the consequences that entails. They often contain way too much salt - up to 2 grams, one third of your daily intake! But other unnecessary ingredients are also often included in the list.

  1. For a healthy diet it is recommended to eat as few processed products as possible. This way you get as many useful nutrients as possible, and as few substances as possible that can be harmful. From that point of view, ready-to-eat meat substitutes are not the ideal choice!

 € ˜Naturalâ € ™ meat substitutes

  1. So what is the alternative? You can go a long way in your diet with fewer processed protein sources instead of meat. Think of legumes, whole grains, nuts and soy products such as tofu and tempeh. They all contain quite a few minerals and B vitamins.

  1. You have to take into account that this contains no vitamin B12. This is only found in animal products, and it is added artificially to ready-to-eat meat substitutes. If you still eat meat regularly, then you don't have to worry about a shortage. As a vegetarian you get B12 from dairy and eggs, for example; as a vegan you can choose a supplement.

So: eat ready-to-eat meat substitutes?

  1. In short: are ready-to-eat meat substitutes healthy or not? Assuming you choose quality products, they certainly have their advantages. This makes them an accessible choice for people who are not used to vegetarian food and who want to eat meat now and then, for example because it is better for the environment.

  1. On the other hand, it may not be such a healthy choice for every day. If you are going for a completely vegetarian diet, it is better not to be completely dependent on these types of meat substitutes. In that case you better alternate with the other options mentioned!

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