Mock meat alternatives are designed to be identical to animal alternatives in taste and feel. Similarly, the nutrient composition of vegetarian products to a great extent is analogous to the corresponding meat products in the market. The benefits of the plant-based substitutes over animal food are the presence of a low amount of saturated fat in addition to high fibre content depending on the ingredients. The optimal number of vitamins, protein, fibre and lower saturated fat thus anticipating long term health benefits such as the reduced risk of cancer, heart ailments, and diabetes.
They are sometimes called superfoods as it contains a high-quality vegan protein with high fibre, is 233% more calcium and 53% high in iron. In addition, nutritionists claim they are free from cholesterol, antibiotics, and hormones and this bowl full of a healthy diet is 62% lower in calories and 71% lower in saturated fat compared to real pork. Studies suggest that mycoproteins help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels and can even lower LDL cholesterol levels as they are cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat content and have no trans fatty acids. Studies proved that soy proteins directly lower the LDL- cholesterol level and blood pressure. The most unique aspect of the soy protein is its high isoflavone content, which is considered as having a lot of health benefits. Nutritionally, tofu is free of cholesterol, low in saturated fat and high in protein content (approximately 50%). It also contains about 27% essential fatty acids and a good amount of calcium. One of the recent studies has focused on healthier utilization of the by-products of tofu processing which contain nutritionally rich proteins and fats that taste good and can be beneficial to human health.
Mock meat and side effects
In contrast to dairy substitutes, meat substitutes are generally not fortified. Hence, these vegetarian alternatives provide no compensation for nutrients derived from animal products. Unfortunately, these alternatives often contain high amounts of salt along with additives such as flavouring agents or preservatives. These mock meats which are generally priced higher than their traditional counterparts may become more pocket-friendly in the near future as people are very much concerned about food safety globally. Gluten based mock meat may taste good but only hitch is they come with zero nutritional value, digestive disorders, mood swing and reduced energy balance in the body.
Research has shown that soy contains oestrogen-like compounds called genistein and daidzein. These are isoflavones believed to interfere with female sex hormones causing breast cancer in women and also contribute to dysfunctions of thyroid hormone metabolism. The gluten-free diet Shockingly, some studies have reported that long term consumption of the gluten-free diet may lead to a reduced level of fibre and minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium in the body. Meanwhile, there is an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies such as B-complex vitamins and trace minerals considered as a major setback due to the impact of a gluten-free diet.
Off late, in India also the concept of vegetarian meat is catching up. Many young entrepreneurs after quitting high profile jobs ventured into mock meat business selling products online. They claim these meat substitutes come with long shelf life, without any of the religious objections, adverse health consequences and the horrible effect on the environment. But some are unconvinced of the potential of plant-based meat in India quoting a consumer trend that has been imported out of West but a cultural misfit in India.
Dr. Girish SP, Lead Consultant – General & GI Surgery, Aster RV Hospital