BE CAREFUL WITH “FAKE MEAT”
Throughout this article, we’ve encouraged the consumption of REAL food.
Vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc. As we mentioned, these are nutrient dense, low-calorie foods that can help with a healthy life.
However, something we see time and time again over here at Nerd Fitness is rebels just switching “real meat” to “fake meat” when starting a Plant-Based Diet.
This switch can be a big concern because some of these products are highly processed and full of additives and refined oils you want nothing to do with.
Sometimes you’ll find a veggie burger whose patty is just mashed up black beans with a little onion. That would be fine!
Most other times, you’ll find processed foods like tofurky, facon, and mock chicken nuggets that are quite unhealthy.
Not all imitation meat is created equal.
Here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
TONS of ingredients. This would be a good rule of thumb for most food: be wary of foods that have a long list of ingredients. Things like “modified corn starch” or “hydrolyzed wheat gluten” should raise some red flags. It means the foods have been processed and then processed again. This can strip a lot of the nutrient content out of the food.
If they have to add “hydrolyzed wheat protein” to make a veggie sausage look and taste somewhere in the ballpark of a real sausage… eh, maybe skip it and just eat some lentils instead.
They might not be “vegan.” Many veggie meats will include things like egg whites and casein (a milk protein) as binding agents and to increase the protein content.
In my opinion, if you’re okay with this, perhaps you can just eat plain eggs without all the other added ingredients and preservatives.
Watch out for sodium (salt) content. Sodium is often used as a preservative, so lots of processed food will include a decent amount of salt. We should note, this is also true of processed meats too.
If you eat a lot of meat substitutes, you’ll likely be taking in a lot of salt too. Be aware of this and perhaps minimize salt intake with other foods to compensate.
I asked one of our NF coaches, Kerry (a pescatarian), about some trusted brands to source meat substitutes. Kerry is a brilliant coach and only occasionally eats fish, so I knew she’d be a great source of knowledge on the subject.
Here are some brands to consider when looking into a meat substitute:
Beyond Meat. Both Kerry and CrossFit athlete Danielle Sidell mention Beyond Meat as a good source of meat alternatives. Their burger substitute is made out of pea protein and not too much else. You can find their products at many grocery stores.
Hilary’s. Another brand with minimal ingredients in their products is Hilary’s. For example, one of their veggie burgers is beans, sweet potato, coconut oil, chilies, and a few other things. Not bad.
Again, you can find their products in grocery stores.
No Evil Foods. I’ve got to hand it to No Evil Foods. Their Comrade Cluck “No Chicken” only has seven ingredients, one of which is water.
It should be noted, that most of their foods rely on wheat and gluten for protein. If you can process both okay, No Evil Foods is a good option.
That should get you started on some meat substitutes to experiment with.
Also, we should discuss tofu and tempeh. They are both meat substitutes that are made from soy. These are generally minimally processed as well, so they’ll contain few ingredients outside of soy.
They are also time tested.
Folks in Asian cultures have been eating tofu and tempeh for centuries, providing them a good source of protein.
If you’re looking for meat substitutes, tofu and tempeh would be worth looking into.
If you’re male and worried about soy disrupting your hormones and causing “moobs,” we dive into the science of that in our article “How to Get Rid of Man Boobs.”
Okay, that about does it for our warning on fake meat.
Let’s shift gears and start chatting about vitamins and minerals.