Meatless meats, faux meats, vegan meat – these food products go under a variety of different names. However, they usually refer to the same thing. These products have been designed to look or taste like meat, but are generally made from plant-based ingredients.
Now, there is no denying that these faux meats are a welcome addition to supermarkets for both vegans and non-vegans. For one thing, they do cut down on the hassle of needing to make your own meat alternatives. Not to mention, they often tend to be more palatable to meat-eaters as well.
What many people don’t realize, though, is that faux meats aren’t all that healthy. They could be filled with sodium, preservatives, and various other ingredients that aren’t necessarily good for you. Fortunately, there are still many better options out there.
If you want to know how to tell the good from the bad, try to pay attention to the following guidelines:
Know the Base Component
The first thing you need to figure out is what the base ingredient of a certain food is. These can vary from one product to another. Some products use soy, seitan, and similar components while others make their ingredients out of lentils, millet, and other pulses.
Whenever possible, always look for the most natural ingredient. Things like tofu, quinoa, tempeh, lentils, legumes, mushrooms, and nuts are always a good start. They are chock-full of nutrients like protein and can often help to create a balanced meal.
Look for Short Ingredient Lists
Always take a peek at the ingredient list when shopping. While the actual ingredients are important, you should also see how many there are. More often than not, pick products that have a short ingredient list with healthy, recognizable names. This proves that the product has undergone minimal processing.
A good meatless meat option is one where virtually all the ingredients are fruits or vegetables. Once again, this helps to show that this is a food item that can be safely added to your diet.
Keep the Artificial Ingredients to a Minimal
The first thing you need to watch out for with such food items is preservatives. Stay away from products that appear to have an incredibly long shelf-life, unless they are frozen. This often means that either the ingredients are artificial or plenty of preservatives have been added.
It isn’t just preservatives that you need to look out for. Keep an eye out for artificial colorings and flavorings. These won’t do you any favors either. Therefore, keep them off your plate and out of your system.
You should bear in mind that preservatives and other artificial components may be labeled under various names. Thus, you may need to do some research into the various ingredients that you find on the label. Although this can seem time-consuming, you will ensure that you are consuming a healthy, balanced diet nonetheless.
Look at the Nutrient Values
Since it is important to eat a balanced meal, always look at the nutrient values of any of the food that you are buying. Naturally, high protein content is good, particularly if you are trying to boost how much protein you are eating in a day.
However, remember to be mindful of sugar, fat (especially saturated fat), and sodium levels. These should be kept to a minimum. Too much of these ingredients in any food and things begin to veer into junk food territory. At the same time, you should check out how many calories there are per serving as well.
Consider Your Diet
These days, many people tend to be on some kind of diet or another. Some are low-carb, keto, gluten-free, etc. So, before you select a particular product, make sure that these ingredients fit your criteria. For instance, if you are following a gluten-free diet, it doesn’t make much sense to select faux meat that is created using seitan.
Pick Brands Committed to Health
Don’t want to have to fuss every time you head to the store? Then do some research on the healthiest brands to produce meatless meats. Some people take pride in producing minimally processed foods or who are committed to offering the healthiest options.
Of course, you will need to do some research here too. The good news is that most of the information should be available on brand websites. These days, people prefer transparency regarding their food and many companies will oblige.
If you feel that any information is missing, go ahead and make a list of the questions that you would like to ask and email them to the company. You will often get fairly straightforward answers this way, and find out whatever you need to know.
Keep in mind that brands are always switching up their formulas. Thus, you should always follow up on any new ingredient changes. You may just discover that the new ingredients aren’t as healthy for you. It is only by remaining up-to-date on such transitions that you can stay one step ahead of the curve.
Keep Your Faux Meat Consumption to a Minimal
At the end of the day, many of these foods are processed to a certain degree. Due to this, you shouldn’t include them in your diet too often. Instead, have them as a treat or when you need fuss-free foods to take to a barbecue. This way, you can enjoy what these meatless options have to offer, without going overboard.
More often than not, it is best to stick with wholesome, natural ingredients. This way, you can create a healthy and balanced diet for yourself. After all, isn’t this one of the reasons that you decided to follow a vegan diet in the first place?
So, there you have it – your guide to picking the healthiest meatless meats on the market. Armed with this information, you should be able to make a more informed decision for yourself. In turn, you can lead a healthier, happier, and more varied vegan diet.
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