Those who want to eat less meat will quickly switch to a meat substitute. Nice and easy. Not an ordinary burger, but a soy burger and you don’t have to tweak anything. It is better for the environment, but not necessarily for your health.
“Certainly not every meat substitute has a good formula,” says Michael Sells, chief dietician at Antwerp University Hospital and author of Lekker Lang Leven. “If you look at the packaging, you can see that there are many meat alternatives that have a lot of salt and fat.”
Half a fried snack
“Some meat alternatives are a semi-fried snack or cheese croquette with a piece of pea or broccoli and are not very large in texture,” says nutritionist Sales.
Nutritionist Flor Fuhrmann also says that meat substitutes are not immediately healthy. “You always have to look critically at what’s inside. Often they add vitamin B12, but also salt as a preservative to make it longer, flavor enhancers and sugar. The longer the ingredient list for meat alternatives, the more likely this is that the meat substitute falls into an unhealthy category.”
The Dutch eat most meat substitutes
Research shows that the Dutch eat the most meat substitutes from all countries in Europe. Every year we spend 17 euros per person on meat substitutes. The biggest growth last year was in supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl, which now have a much larger selection of meat alternatives. Across Europe, consumption of vegan meat alternatives doubled in the last year.
Not in favor of a meat substitute
Voerman does not endorse meat alternatives. “They are all prepared and there are a lot of toppings. I prefer to make the burgers myself, or not to choose a ready-made alternative, but for vegetables. We always have a shortage of vegetables, so the best thing is that you are actually going to eat more vegetables.”
According to Furman, in addition to meat alternatives, there are also plenty of other alternatives to preparing a meatless meal. “Nuts, for example, are a great alternative, or unsalted cashews, for example. These are great shapes to play with natural products rather than processed products.”
Iris Groenenber, a nutrition and health expert at the Dutch Nutrition Center, says there are enough alternatives to cut back on meat without using meat alternatives.
“For example by using eggs, legumes or unsalted nuts in cooking. These are very good alternatives to meat and are also healthy.”
Healthy ready-to-eat meat alternatives
If you want to eat healthy ready-to-eat meat alternatives, according to Groenenberg, there are a number of things to consider. There are criteria that meat alternatives must meet in order to be a suitable meat substitute.
“If the ready-to-eat meat substitute is indeed a meat substitute, it must contain sufficient protein along with iron and vitamin B1 and / or B12. Currently, most meat alternatives do not meet these criteria, which means that the majority are still not listed in Five-wheel, “says Groenberg.