Why meat substitutes are not the best choice for your health if you eat less meat

Those who want to eat less meat will quickly turn to the meat substitute. Nice and easy. Not a normal burger, but a soy burger and you don’t have to adjust anything. It is better for the environment, but not necessarily for your health.

“Certainly not every meat substitute has a good composition”, says Michaël Sels, head dietitian at the University Hospital Antwerp and author of the book Lekker Lang Leven. “If you look at the packaging, you can see that there are many meat substitutes that contain a lot of salt and fat.”

Half frying snacks

“Some meat substitutes are a kind of half-frying snacks or cheese croquettes with a piece of pea or broccoli and are not too great in composition,” says dietitian Sels.

Nutritionist Fleur Voerman also says that meat substitutes are not immediately healthy. “You always have to look critically at what’s in them. They often add B12, but also salt as a preservative to make it longer, flavor enhancers and sugar. The longer a list of ingredients for the meat substitutes, the more likely it is that the meat substitute falls into the unhealthy category. “

The Dutch eat most meat substitutes

Research shows that the Dutch eat the most meat substitutes of all countries in Europe. Every year we spend 17 euros per person on meat substitutes. The greatest growth last year was at supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, which now have a larger range of meat substitutes. Across Europe, the consumption of vegetable meat substitutes doubled last year.

Not in favor of the meat substitute

Voerman is not in favor of meat substitutes. “It has all been prepared and there are too many additives. I would rather make burgers myself, or opt not for a ready-made substitute, but for vegetables. We always have a shortage of vegetables, so the best thing would be are that you are actually going to eat more vegetables. “

According to Voerman, in addition to meat substitutes, there are also plenty of other alternatives to make a meal without meat. “Nuts, for example, are a great substitute, or unsalted cashews, for example. These are great variants to play with natural products instead of processed products.”

Healthy alternatives

Iris Groenenber, nutrition and health expert at the Netherlands Nutrition Center, says there are sufficient alternatives to cut back on meat without using meat substitutes.

“For example by using eggs, legumes or unsalted nuts in cooking. These are very good meat substitutes that are also healthy.”

Healthy ready-to-eat meat substitutes

If you want to eat ready-to-eat meat substitutes that are healthy, according to Groenenberg, there are a number of things to keep in mind. There are criteria that meat substitutes must meet in order to be a worthy alternative to meat.

“If a ready-to-eat meat substitute really is a substitute for meat, then it must contain enough protein in combination with iron and vitamin B1 and / or B12. At the moment, most meat substitutes do not meet those criteria, so that the majority still do. is not included in the wheel of five, “says Groenenberg.

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