Food from the chemistry kit: vegan meat substitutes are so unhealthy

Vegan nutrition is often equated with healthy and ecologically correct. This is a big misunderstanding when it comes to meat substitutes made from soy or wheat protein. Only a lot of salt, fat and additives create flavor on the plate.

  • Soy or wheat protein taste like nothing, especially not like meat.
  • Abundant food chemistry turns plants into meat substitutes.
  • Vegan ready meals are no healthier than conventional products.

Guess what that is: soy protein, paprika, onions, sunflower oil, drinking water, wheat protein, chicken protein powder, wheat flour, wheat starch, table salt, spices, yeast, maltodextrin, herbs, thickener: (guar gum), smoke flavor?

These 16 ingredients make vegetarian mini meatballs from Lidl’s “My best Veggie” series. It’s a casual yet typical example of meat dishes without meat. A lot of food chemistry is required before soy becomes a meatball or seitan becomes a currywurst. Taste, texture and appearance are only created through skillful handling of additives and aromas from the laboratory.

Vegan ready meals are too salty and too greasy

Too many additives, including too much salt, sugar and fat in meat substitutes, criticized the Hamburg Consumer Center two years ago in the “Market Check: Vegan Food” . Nothing has changed since then. The criticism also applies to the 2.5 grams of salt and 13.3 grams of fat per 100 grams of meatball in our example.

Vegetarian and vegan ready meals, sausage and cheese preparations are no more unhealthy than the originals – but neither are they healthier or better in quality. But this is what many consumers expect, as the NDR’s consumer magazine “Markt” recently showed in a road test:

Consumers have false expectations of “vegan”

Quite a number of respondents were in favor of vegetarian products because they considered them healthy and low in calories. When they were referred to the list of ingredients, they reacted surprised and slightly shocked.

  • The vegetarian currywurst tested had 100 kilocalories more than the original made from meat from the same manufacturer.
  • 100 grams of meatless salami contained 3.3 grams of salt. This is more than half of the daily dose of six grams recommended by the German Nutrition Society.
  • Some examples of sausages contained not only rapeseed oil, which is considered healthy, but also cheap palm fat. Because of its saturated fatty acids, it is one of the fats that are harmful to health.
  • Overall, thickeners, stabilizers, colors and preservatives are on the long lists of ingredients in meat substitutes – all additives that nutrition experts are a thorn in the side of even conventional foods.

Ready meals with meat substitutes or sausage imitations no longer have anything to do with the healthy wholefood diet of traditional vegetarians. If you want to eat valuable food without meat, you should rely on fresh food and creative preparation – the best advice for healthy eating has always been.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post

What really helps against joint pain

Natural active ingredients such as devil’s claw or NSAID drugs and opioids: These drugs are supposed to relieve joint pain in osteoarthritis. But what helps whom? FOCUS Online explains which treatments work for joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and what side effects they have.

  • Osteoarthritis results from wear and tear on bones and joint capsules.
  • Five million Germans suffer from the consequences.
  • Briefly explained: which osteoarthritis treatment helps whom?

If the joints hurt, it is usually osteoarthritis : it is the most common of all joint diseases. About five million Germans suffer from it. Osteoarthritis occurs when bones, ligaments, tendons and joint capsules wear out.

This is important to differentiate the disease from rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation is the cause here.

This is important for osteoarthritis treatment

“Arthrosis is a disease that runs in waves,” explains Johannes Flechtenmacher, President of the Professional Association of Orthopedists and Trauma Surgeons. Less painful phases alternate with those that torment those affected.

The aim of the treatment is to relieve the pain on the one hand and to maintain or restore the ability to move on the other.

Osteoarthritis needs combination treatments

Ideally, the doctor combines non-drug treatments such as physiotherapy, nutritional recommendations, and hot or cold applications with medication. These are mainly used in the acute pain phase.

“In the less painful episodes, patients should try to avoid medication,” explains Flechtenmacher. In principle, movement in particular is an important component of therapy. His motto: “Move a lot, load little.”

Five osteoarthritis treatments put to the test:

1. NSAIDs: cortisone-free pain relievers

This is how the drug works: The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the classic all-rounders in pain relief. They have both anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, but do not contain cortisone.

Medicines include ibuprofen, diclofenac, or naproxen. They block two important enzymes that play a role in the sensation of pain: Cyclooxygenase (COX) isoenzymes I and II.

The so-called Cox II inhibitors are therefore well suited to treat acute joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.

NSAIDs also have an antipyretic effect.

Side effects: Gastrointestinal complaints and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases are among the risks of NSAIDs. “That is why it is particularly important to tailor the osteoarthritis treatment to the patient,” explains orthopedist Flechtenmacher.

For example, ibuprofen is not suitable for patients with kidney problems, and diclofenac hits the liver. Both drugs also have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. Naproxin is therefore better suited for heart disease patients with osteoarthritis.

2. Opioids

This is how the drug works: Opioids are effective remedies that are used against severe joint pain. By attacking the opioid receptors, they prevent pain from developing and being transmitted.

Tramadol is one of the morphine-like drugs. “Morphines are not suitable for treating acute phases of pain in osteoarthritis,” says Flechtenmacher. This is especially true for plasters. Morphine should only be used for chronic treatment if no other therapy is helping the patient.

Side effects: Many sufferers suffer from the exhaustion caused by morphine. Especially in older people, opioids aggravate many age problems. These include, for example, constipation and dizziness. This also increases the risk of frail patients falling.

3. Hyaluronic acid

In addition to drugs that directly combat pain, there are active ingredients that intervene in the mechanism of the disease. A typical representative is hyluronic acid.

This is how the drug works: Doctors inject hyaluronic acid into the joint to treat osteoarthritis. That’s the only way it works. “In contrast, it is pointless in tablet form, as is sometimes offered,” explains Flechtenmacher. Only in the joint does the drug help the knees or fingers move more smoothly.

With regard to evidence-based studies, hyaluronic acid should be viewed critically, adds the doctor. For example, the relief of osteoarthritis on knock knees or bow legs, where it is biomechanically induced, works less well than on straight legs.

Nevertheless, medical professionals have high hopes for hyaluronic acid. They are currently researching the structure of cartilage: “There are actually very promising developments in which hyaluronic acid is combined with stem cells or other molecules,” says Flechtenmacher. Damaged cartilage structures could be rebuilt.

Side effects: As a rule, osteoarthritis patients tolerate hyaluronic acid very well. Since it is injected directly into the joint, there is the usual risk of infection from the method.

4. Natural medicine

This is how the treatment works: Natural active ingredients such as nettle leaves, willow bark or devil’s claw should also relieve pain. The latter contains, among other things, harpagoside. Similar to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, they are supposed to inhibit the formation of the pain messenger prostaglandin.

“So far, however, nothing has been identified in evidence-based studies that proves the effectiveness of the natural active ingredients,” explains Flechtenmacher.

Side effects: They are dependent on the natural medicine product. The instruction leaflet of the devil’s claw, for example, warns of possible gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, vomiting as well as dizziness and headaches or rashes.

5. Acupuncture

This is how the treatment works: As with natural active ingredients, evidence of how acupuncture works for osteoarthritis has not yet been provided in scientific studies.

On the contrary. An Australian study looked at the effects of acupuncture. The results published in the “JAMA” magazine showed: Acupuncture with needles or laser has no relevant effect on pain and function in patients over 50 with knee osteoarthritis and moderate or severe chronic pain.

However, acupuncture helps some osteoarthritis sufferers. Johannes Flechtenmacher, for example, relies on the alternative form of treatment

  • light and irregular pain
  • when many illnesses in the affected person rule out other drugs.

In addition, there are many patients who benefit from the doctor’s attention and empathy alone.

Side effects: The symptoms can get worse at first, writes the German Pain Society on acupuncture . And adds: “Occasionally there are slight bruises or bruises, and brief circulatory reactions can also occur during acupuncture treatment.”

In any case, those affected should not treat their joint pain independently, but should always have it checked out by a specialist.

Why vegans like to have the wrong meat on their plates

Many believe that vegetarians and vegans loathe meat dishes. But that’s not true, most people love the taste of sausage, meat loaf or meatloaf. It just can’t come from the animal. That doesn’t sound logical, but there are reasons.

  • Most vegans like the taste of meat and sausage.
  • Plant-based sausages, meatballs and schnitzel satisfy the longing for the usual food.
  • Vegan food research is working on the perfect meat substitute.

The community of vegetarians and vegans is growing day by day, and with it the range of meat-free ready-made products. It is noticeable how many of them imitate traditional sausages, roasts or poultry dishes. So do the veggies see themselves after hearty home cooking and products from the butcher’s shop?

Refraining from meat for moral reasons

63 percent of those who do without animal foods cite ecological and ethical reasons. Only eleven percent simply don’t like meat. That was the result of a study at the University of Jena. Most vegetarians and vegans do not want animals to be slaughtered for their diet. You don’t want to eat dead animals. But they certainly appreciate the taste of meat dishes.

“Meat” comes from protein-rich plants

Meat substitutes made from soy, lupins or wheat protein (gluten) must then be used as the basic products for chili con carne, salami pizza or bacon pancakes. With the help of modern food chemistry, the vegetable protein suppliers get texture and taste that come close to the animal original. And while the vegetarian roast chicken is very reminiscent of rubber eagles, the meatless Bolognese sauce can hardly be distinguished from the original.

Why not just vegetables?

The preference of many veggies for well-known dishes – which in Germany mostly consist of meat and sausage – has to do with childhood and local food culture. What you like as a child remains a lifelong preference. Smells from the kitchen are often associated with pleasant childhood experiences. Saying goodbye to it is much harder than saying goodbye to meat. “It is hardly possible to part with positive eating memories. Eating has a lot to do with emotions, ”says nutritionist Jutta Kamensky from Ulm.

Meat substitute is anything but “organic”

However, imitation sausage and meat substitutes are not exactly biologically valuable food. A lot of food chemistry is required to turn gluten into a veggie roast beef. This contradicts the demands of traditional vegetarians on healthy wholefood nutrition with fresh foods. Too many flavorings and additives, too much salt and fat in meat substitutes therefore criticized the Hamburg consumer center some time ago.

Perfect steaks, but without dead animals

For all those who want to be vegan and dream of Wiener Schnitzel at night, representatives of the “Future Food” movement are active. Cooks, physicists, chemists and environmentalists work as start-up entrepreneurs in kitchens and laboratories on the vegan diet of the future. It should protect resources, be healthy and taste good. One of their goals is to use vegetable protein to make substitutes for meat, cheese and dairy products that can no longer be distinguished from the original: visually, in terms of taste, in terms of texture.

The next generation of vegetable steaks and chicken breasts is not yet ready for the market. Sometimes the consistency is lacking, sometimes the taste. But the organic hobbyists are certain that their high-tech methods will soon reconcile carnal preferences and vegan diets.

“Cancer cells are fed” – underestimated health risks lurk in meat and sausage

Iron deficiency is often discussed. There is hardly any talk about the opposite, the frequent overloading with heme iron, the iron form made from red meat and sausage. It promotes the common diseases of diabetes, cancer and arteriosclerosis. FOCUS Online shows how you can meet your iron needs in a healthy way.

The trace element iron is indispensable for a number of vital metabolic functions in the body. As a component of hemoglobin in the red blood cells, it supplies every body cell with oxygen. Iron deficiency, which manifests itself in anemia, exhaustion, susceptibility to infection, affects around 20 percent of women and ten percent of men in Germany. The higher risk for women is explained by menstruation and decreases accordingly when the childbearing phase of life is over.

Many people have an excess of iron – and know nothing about it

Iron deficiency is known and many nutrition-conscious people pay attention to adequate iron intake. However, significantly more people could have anything but an iron deficiency, namely too much of this trace element. Probably very few people know about it, although it carries a high risk of disease.

Heme iron and non-heme iron: these are the differences

First and foremost, it is important for these relationships – there are the two known, different forms of iron, only one of which can be hazardous to health:

1. Heme iron , i.e. bivalent iron (Fe), mainly found in red meat and sausage. Heme iron has a high bioavailability, the body can use at least 20 percent from food.

2. Non-heme iron , trivalent iron (Fe3), from plant-based nutrient suppliers such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, oil seeds and various types of vegetables. Non-heme iron must first be oxidized to some form of Fe in the small intestine in order for the body to use it. In this way, only around five percent of the iron from food comes into play.

The iron requirement per day is 15 milligrams for women and 10 milligrams for men.

Underestimated health risk heme iron

What is certain is that most people in industrialized nations have at least a sufficient supply of the trace element. Due to our meat and sausage-heavy diet, a large part is even oversupplied with heme iron, and thus risks diseases. Various studies indicate these relationships .

“We assume that too much heme iron can have negative health consequences through eating meat,” explains Matthias Riedl, board member of the Association of German Nutritionists (BDEM) and diabetologist, nutritionist, internist, managing director and medical director at Medicum Hamburg.

The human organism is not prepared for high meat consumption

Normally, a complex mechanism of substances in the liver and intestines controls the iron level. If too much iron storage protein ferritin is measured, the body slows down absorption. “This does not work adequately with large amounts of heme iron, the body continues to absorb it, simply because this form of iron is extremely easy to use,” says the expert.

The nutritionist explains that the cause lies in our evolutionary history. Up until two million years ago, humans were purely plant-eaters, only then did they add animal consumption. That was sometimes more, mostly less meat – definitely a lot less than is regularly eaten today. The human organism is not prepared for this.

High consumption of heme iron feeds cancer cells

The excess iron is then deposited in the pancreas, liver and spleen, which can put stress on the organs. But that’s not all. “Heme iron can promote mutations via certain chemical compounds – for example in intestinal cells, but also in other cells,” warns the internist.

In addition, these compounds have a cytotoxic effect, so they can not only change cells, but also damage them. “And cancer cells, on the other hand, are properly fed by heme iron, so to speak,” says the expert. Malignant cells have a high demand for this trace element. A high consumption of heme iron means that existing cancer cells grow better and are stronger against the immune system.

Meat lovers are more likely to develop diabetes and arteriosclerosis

In addition to the connection between heme iron and cancer, many nutritional studies have shown two other negative effects of the “meat iron”:

1. Numerous studies show that people who consume a lot of sausage and meat are particularly likely to have type 2 diabetes .

2. In addition, this dietary preference often leads to arteriosclerosis , with the well-known secondary diseases of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

“If people don’t eat ‘appropriately’, they get sick”

The higher the meat consumption, the higher the risks for cancer, diabetes and arteriosclerosis. What actually stands behind it: “If people do not eat ‘species-appropriate’, i.e. eat too much red meat and sausage and thus too much heme iron, they will get sick,” warns Matthias Riedl. It is well known that primitive peoples who still eat originally – eat very little meat and no sausage – do not have arteriosclerosis at all, for example.

Trivalent iron from plants is converted into bivalent iron

So heme iron has a rather negative effect on the body. Non-heme iron, on the other hand, does not pose these health risks – but is converted into bivalent iron in the body in order to make it available. Doesn’t it then become as unfavorable as bivalent heme iron? “No, because the trivalent iron from plants is converted into a bivalent iron, but not into heme iron,” explains the expert.

Providing the body with healthy iron – vegetables and fruits with non-heme iron

In order to provide the body with sufficient iron without meat, there are a number of plant-based foods that have a high content of non-heme iron, such as:

  • Lentils around 2.7mg / 100gr
  • Chickpeas around 2.7mg / 100gr
  • Peas 1,5mg / 100gr
  • Spinach 3,6mg / 100gr
  • Chanterelles 6.5mg / 100gr
  • Elderberry 1.6mg / 100gr
  • Pine nuts 9.2mg / 100gr
  • Millet 6.9mg / 100gr
  • Flaxseed, ground 8,4mg / 100gr
  • Amaranth 8.9mg / 100gr

Spinach contains a comparatively high amount of iron for a plant-based food, but at the same time the substances it contains can prevent it from being absorbed by the body. Beans or lentils are therefore better suited as a vegetarian source of iron.

Intelligently upgrade the bioavailability of iron from vegetables and fruits

Sure, none of these foods provide as much iron as meat. “The availability of iron from plant-based foods can be increased by cleverly combining the ingredients in a meal,” says Matthias Riedl. Vitamin C, for example, improves absorption. Suggestion for a corresponding daily plan:

  • In the morning: oatmeal / muesli with fruit, a glass of orange or lemon juice for breakfast,
  • Lunch: millet salad with paprika (the pods are extremely rich in vitamin C),
  • In the evening: whole wheat pasta with broccoli or parsley pesto

Coffee and tea inhibit iron availability

However, there are also plant substances that have an inhibiting effect on iron absorption. These are phytates and polyphenols, for example, these plant substances are contained in coffee and tea. So avoid these drinks during, immediately before and after a meal containing iron. In wholemeal products, on the other hand, the phytate content plays a lesser role, as they convince with their high iron content.

Cover your iron requirement healthily, certain meats are also allowed

“Those who follow a purely vegetarian / vegan diet can still get too little iron, especially women are at risk here,” says the expert.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women in particular should take preparations if they have a proven iron deficiency. Otherwise there is a ‘species-appropriate’ solution for everyone: That means a small, moderate meat meal per week, preferably poultry meat, because white meat is not statistically associated with the disease risks mentioned.