Vegan meat is here. And according to sales data and consumer preference, it’s here to stay.
Food companies are discovering that plants can deliver the same sizzle, bite, and mouthwatering taste as animal-based meat, but without leaving so heavy a mark on our bodies, the planet, and the billions of animals in the food system.
Is Meat Bad For You?
While animal meat has long been viewed as a healthy way to get protein and iron, research continues to point to health hazards.
Meat typically contains high levels of saturated and trans fats, which can raise blood cholesterol. High cholesterol can lead to plaque forming along the inside of the artery walls. This causes the artery to narrow and blood flow to decrease, increasing the risk of stroke, peripheral artery disease, and heart disease. A 2018 study by the Cleveland Clinic found that eating red meat could increase the risk of heart disease 1,000 percent more than a plant-based diet.
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified red meat as a Group 2 carcinogen, meaning it probably causes cancer in humans. WHO placed processed meat like bacon and pepperoni in the Group 1 category, which says it is carcinogenic to humans. Tobacco smoking and asbestos are also in this category.
Even small amounts of meat can have a real impact on one’s health. An Oxford University study from earlier this year found that eating just three rashers of bacon a day could increase cancer risk by 20 percent.
Eating meat is also connected to the onset or worsening of diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, and kidney disease.
Is Meat Bad for the Planet?
Animal agriculture is a leading driver of a myriad of environmental issues including water pollution, air pollution, ocean dead zones, and species loss.
Beef production was identified as a leading cause of the Amazon rainforest fires since vast swaths of forest are burned intentionally to make room for the production of beef and animal feed; agriculture accounts for 80 percent of all deforestation according to a report funded by the British and Norwegian governments.
The meat industry is also responsible for a significant percentage of all greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate change. Last year, Oxford University researchers conducted the most comprehensive analysis of farming’s impact on the planet ever conducted. The researchers analyzed data from approximately 40,000 farms in 119 countries and concluded that going vegan is the most powerful tool in the fight against climate change. Lead researcher Joseph Poore said adopting a vegan diet is “the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use.”
What Is Vegan Meat?
Plant-based meat is just what it sounds like — meat made from plants. Pea protein, soy protein, wheat, and mushrooms are commonly used to create juicy meat products.
People love vegan meat — the evidence is in the numbers. Data released by The Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) found that vegan meat, chicken, pork, and even seafood are all quickly outpacing their animal-based counterparts.
Sales of vegan meat increased by 37 percent in the past year while sales of animal-based meat only grew by 2 percent. The plant-based meat category is now worth more than $800 million and this figure is climbing. A 67-page report released in July by UBS Group AG, a multinational investment bank and financial services company, said that the plant-based protein market could be valued at $85 billion by 2030.
Is Vegan Meat Healthy?
Unlike animal meat, plant-based meat contains no cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods, meaning that “veganism is the only truly cholesterol-free diet,” according to Medical News Today.
Vegan meat is a good source of protein. The plant-based Beyond Burger, for example, boasts 20 grams of protein per serving, which is more than a third of the average recommended daily protein intake. The plant-based Impossible Burger offers 19 grams of protein.
Vegan meat is also rich in fiber. Compare that to animal meat, which contains zero grams of fiber and plant-based protein becomes even more appealing. Earlier this year, University of Otago researchers discovered a connection between a fiber-rich diet and the reduced risk of multiple diseases. Data from 185 observational studies found that those who consume the most fiber are 15 to 30 percent less likely to die prematurely. Eating fiber-rich foods was also linked to a 16 to 24 percent reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer.
A Harvard study, which included more than 40,000 healthy men, found that a diet rich in fiber may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 40 percent.
The Meat-Free Movement
Health, the environment, and ethics are seeing more people swap their meat for plants. Major British supermarket Sainsbury’s released data earlier this year showing that 91 percent of Brits are now flexitarian – people who eat animal products but focus on including more plant-based food in their diet.
Another recent survey found that 80 percent of Americans want to replace meat with vegan food. A poll by Angus Reid found that 70 percent of Canadians believe vegan meat is not a passing fad but a movement that is here to stay, and a recent report predicts that the popularity of plant-based meat will boost Australia’s economy by $3 billion by 2030.
These seven meat brands are instrumental in the meat-free movement, helping the masses eat more sustainably and more healthily, but without compromising on taste.
These 7 Brands Are Making Ridiculously Meaty Vegan Meat
For more than 40 years, Lightlife has been making “Food That Shines” — better-tasting, easy-to-prepare, plant-powered protein.
Lightlife’s juicy vegan quarter-pound patty contains 20 grams of protein, 0 grams of cholesterol, and only 2.5 grams of saturated fat, compared to the 80 grams of cholesterol and 9.3 grams of saturated fat in a conventional beef patty.
Lightlife’s food is for everyone, not just vegans. As well as the Lightlife Burger, the company produces plant-based chicken, ham slices, and bacon. Lightlife’s Smart Dogs are a summertime classic, bringing all the juicy goodness to outdoor barbeques. Earlier this year, the company launched vegan sausages in two meaty flavors — Bratwurst and Italian. Both deliver the taste and texture of traditional pork sausages.
Lightlife was a pioneer of the non-GMO movement. The food brand publicly announced in 1999 that all of its products would be free from genetically modified organisms — a full eight years before the Non-GMO Project was founded.
It’s this forward-thinking attitude that has helped the brand become a favorite across the U.S. The Massachusetts-based brand was credited for helping its parent company Maple Leaf Foods reach $1.02 billion in revenue, up from $9.09.2 million last year. Maple Leaf will soon open a 30,000-square-foot facility which will be used to produce products by Lightlife and Maple Leaf’s other acquisition Field Roast. The new facility will allow both brands to more than double production capacity. Maple Leaf expects Lightlife’s vegan burger will soon be more widely available than the Beyond Burger.
You can find Lightlife’s vegan products in the meat aisle at Sprouts, Wegmans, and Foodtown in the U.S; at Sobey’s, Walmart, and Metro in Canada; or at a restaurant near you. You can also check the website’s store locator.
2. Field Roast
Field Roast believes food tastes better when it’s crafted with care. The company stands by the concept that real food is best. So it starts with familiar, high-quality, whole ingredients such as grains, fresh-cut vegetables, herbs, and legumes. Field Roast’s artisans then use time-honored charcuterie techniques to carefully craft great-tasting, better-for-you vegan meat.
The company pays homage to regionally beloved spices and ingredients by uniting bold flavors to deliver a complex, layered taste experience.
Field Roast offers products to suit all occasions and meals. Its Apple Maple Breakfast Sausages are perfect for morning meals. Deli slices are ideal for school lunches. Mini Corn Dogs spruce up any social event. And the Celebration Roast is a must for the holidays. For grilling, nothing beats Field Roast’s FieldBurger, which is made from barley, carrots, garlic, and onion. The juicy plant-based burger has been winning over sports fans across the country since it was added to stadium menus in 2012.
The company’s four sausage varieties are also must-tries, including its new bratwurst which features Elysian Brewing beer from Field Roast’s home city, Seattle.
You can find Field Roast’s products at Sprouts, Walmart, Whole Foods, Acme Markets, and Safeway in the U.S. and at Sobey’s, Metro, and Walmart in Canada. Check out where to find them here.
Naturli’ is shaking up the food industry with its innovative plant-based meats. Since 1988, the Danish company has challenged the belief that meat and dairy must come from animals. Using ingredients like almonds, coconuts, rice, oats, and soy, Naturli’ makes cruelty-free, planet-happy food.
Naturli’ Minced is perfect for an authentic bolognese or a mouthwatering homemade burger. The fresh vegan mince, which can be fried straight from the packet, offers flavors of tomato, porcini mushrooms, and almonds. It’s made with peas, which are full of protein and fiber and contain vitamin C and B complex vitamins.
The vegan meat is also better for the planet than its animal-based counterpart; it requires vastly less water and land to produce than beef mince. A comprehensive food analysis by Oxford University researchers found that land use would drop by 75 percent if people replaced beef with plant-based options.
Even the Naturli’ Minced packaging strives for sustainability — the plastic tray that Naturli’ Minced comes in is made of 80 percent recycled plastic.
The company’s Chick Free is the vegan chicken product you’ve been waiting for. Chick Free, also made from high-quality peas produced in Denmark, is great for curry, wraps, salads, or wherever your imagination and taste buds take you. The packaging for the product is made of at least 50 percent reusable plastic.
You can find Naturli’s vegan products in the meat aisle at Sainsbury’s in the UK, Coles in Australia, Albert Heijn in the Netherlands, and Färs in Sweden. More info here.
4. Moving Mountains
Moving Mountains wants to help build a better world. The plant-based meat brand was founded by a vegan environmentalist, Simeon Van der Molen. Simeon wanted to bring amazing plant-based meat to the UK — food that had the taste, look, smell, and chew of animal-based meat but contained no animal products.
Moving Mountains brings together food technology, incredible scientific processes, specialized machines, and local natural ingredients to make its plant-based hot dog. And the result is unlike any other on the market.
The company uses ingredients including carrot, onion, coconut oil, and sunflower seeds to make the hot dogs. Sunflower seeds are rich in B complex vitamins and offer 6 grams of protein per serving. Coconut oil contains antioxidants and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are easily absorbed and metabolized, providing a boost of energy.
But the hot dog doesn’t taste like plants. It offers a naturally smoked flavor and tastes so much like pork you’ll be double-checking the packet.
The company also makes burgers that are hormone-free, cholesterol-free, and antibiotic-free — but they’re certainly not taste-free. The protein-packed burger bleeds, cooks, and browns like a conventional beef burger. It even contains 100 percent of your RDA of B12.
You can find Moving Mountains’ plant-based meats at thousands of locations throughout Europe including Hard Rock Cafe, Applebee’s, and universities. Moving Mountains will soon be launching globally. Use the store locator here.
5. Sweet Earth
The world’s largest food company, Nestlé, is tapping into the burgeoning vegan market via its Sweet Earth brand. Sweet Earth is set to launch the Awesome Burger later this year. The plant-based burger is made from yellow pea protein and wheat but boasts the juiciness and taste of beef.
The Awesome Burger offers six grams of fiber per patty and has more protein than a meat burger — 28 grams versus a typical 20 grams. The plant-based meat is a good source of iron and vitamin C and has no saturated fat or cholesterol.
Sweet Earth’s vegan Awesome Burger will hit supermarkets and restaurants in fall. Find the store locator here.
For truly epic veggie eating, look no further than Oumph!. This plant-powered meat brand is on a mission to create great-tasting food that’s so good for the planet, you can eat it every day.
Oumph! uses ingredients like beans, apple juice, garlic, tomato, onion, and soy protein to create its super meaty products. Its Pulled Oumph! is perfect for tacos, the Oumph! burger is begging to be grilled, and the company’s vegan kebab meat — featuring paprika, coriander, ginger, cumin, and parsley — can be added to casseroles.
You can find Oumph!’s vegan meat at Tesco, ASDA, and Whole Foods. Get more info here.
7. Don Lee Farms
Food company Don Lee Farms might have started out making meat, but now the company says its plant-based patties are better than the real thing.
Don Lee’s new Better Than Beef Burger — which, according to the company, is “better on the grill, better for the planet” — is made with non-GMO ingredients. The thick and juicy quarter-pounder is free from gluten and cholesterol. It joins Don Lee’s other vegan meat options, like its organic, ready-to-grill Plant-Based Burger. The patty offers 15 grams of protein and contains no artificial ingredients. The vegan burger has proved popular among shoppers; when it first launched at Costco in the U.S., it was purchased one million times in 60 days.
You can find Don Lee Farms’ vegan meat products at Costco, Kroger, and Ralphs. More info here.
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