When I first went vegan, I used to find it strange that vegan food tries to imitate meat so much. After all, vegans don’t eat meat because they choose not to harm animals and do not want to eat them, right? Why do Vegans eat fake meat? Let’s find out!
Who is a Vegan?
A vegan is someone who abstains from eating any animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey. Vegans may also avoid products made with animal derivatives such as leather, wool, and silk or those tried and tested on animals.
Why do people go vegan?
There are three main reasons for going vegan. They include:
1. Concern for the Environment
Veganism is one of the most effective ways of reducing your carbon footprint. By eating plant-based foods instead of meat or dairy products, you’re cutting down on emissions from livestock farming and deforestation.
2. Health Benefits
Going vegan has numerous health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Plant-based diets are well-linked with a reduced intake of unhealthy fats and cholesterol, which can improve your overall health.
3. Animal Rights
Another reason people choose to go vegan is that they care about animal rights.
Animal rights are based on the premise that animals should not be treated as property but as autonomous individuals who have intrinsic value and deserve protection from cruelty.
This belief leads many vegans to oppose any exploitation or violence towards animals, whether factory farming, hunting, or animal testing.
Going vegan is one way of refusing to support this type of cruelty.
Why Would Vegan Food Imitate Meat?
1. It makes going vegan easier
While you may be wondering why one may need to mimic meat, one thing to remember is that most people who choose veganism have been eating meat for the best part of their lives.
So flipping to the other side without looking back may be a challenge, especially when starting out.
People find that mimicking meat in their diet makes going vegan easier because they don’t have to unlearn old habits.
Others find that it helps them transition to a stricter vegan lifestyle because they have more options for meal planning and cooking.
At the end of the day, the goal is to stick to a vegan diet.
2. Not all vegans are animal rights activists
There are different types of vegans; not all are animal rights activists.
Most animal rights activists omit plant-based meats because they can’t stand the thought of eating something that looks like flesh, as this reminds them of the cruelty done to animals.
On the contrary, some people choose not to eat animals for health reasons, so for them, it’s not a big deal to mimic meat as long as it’s made from healthy plant-based ingredients.
3. It makes social gatherings less awkward
Social gatherings with friends and families can be pretty awkward when everyone is eating meat and there’s no real common ground to talk about.
One way to make these gatherings more comfortable for those who follow a vegan lifestyle is to imitate meat in recipes so that everyone’s meal has some common ground.
This allows people to discuss their favorite meals without feeling like they’re intruding on one another’s personal space.
4. It helps encourage non-vegans to consider going vegan
Meat is a major part of the dinner table in the western world, and convincing a non-vegan to omit meat may not bear much fruit.
However, providing something similar but healthy may make someone curious to try it.
Just show them that plant-based meat is just as delicious and satisfying as animal-based meat.
Plant-based meat helps encourage non-vegans to consider going vegan by providing an environmentally friendly and cruelty-free alternative.
5. It makes people feel connected to their culture and families
Meat-eating is a deeply embedded part of many cultures, and many vegans mimic meat products in order to feel connected to their culture.
For example, many Indians eat chicken curry because it is a popular dish in their country.
Similarly, vegetarians in China may enjoy using egg substitutes in recipes because they are familiar with them.
By incorporating these foods into their diet, they feel connected to their culture.
That’s the same way vegans can connect with their heritage and continue to enjoy the food they love without harming animals or putting their health at risk.
Meat is visually appealing and familiar; when we see something familiar, it makes us want to try it.
Most people in the Western world grew up eating meat, and many don’t know any other way to eat. This is why vegan food sometimes mimics the look and texture of meat- it’s an attempt to make those transitioning more comfortable with their new lifestyle by making it seem like they’re still eating something familiar.
The problem with imitating meat
While plant-based meats may help you attain your goal of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and staying vegan, not all plant-based meats are healthy, especially if you indulge in them more often.
Here are some key factors why you should be cautious about plant-based meats
Most of them are highly processed
When it comes to plant-based meats, most are highly processed. This means that many of the ingredients that go into these products have been through a number of processes, including being heated up or treated in some way.
To create plant-based meat, you first need to extract plant proteins. This can be done by breaking down the plant’s cells with heat or acid. This process leaves behind isolated proteins that are then used to form a meat-like substance.
They can be high in sodium
Sodium is an essential mineral that helps stabilize your blood pressure and heart rate.
However, consuming too much sodium can lead to health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease.
A recent study found that plant-based meats, like premade seitan can be high in sodium. So, it’s important to always read your label to monitor your sodium intake.
Contains preservatives and other harmful Additives
Many assume that since these products are labeled vegan or plant-based, they must be healthier than their animal-based counterparts. However, this is not always the case.
In fact, many plant-based types of meat contain preservatives and other ingredients that are harmful to your health.
For example, a famous soy hot dog contains sodium nitrite- a chemical used to preserve food and produce that artificial color in processed foods.
Sodium nitrite has been linked to colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Some companies also use vegetable oils like canola oil which have been shown to cause inflammation. Inflammation is the primary cause of most conditions, which puts you at risk.
Some could be high in saturated fat
Most plant-based meats can be high in saturated fats. Saturated fats are the worst type of fat because too much of it can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
They are low in nutrients
Most plant-based meats are highly processed, meaning most of their nutrients are destroyed during the process. This may include essential nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and healthy fats.
Plant-based meats like those made from soy are often made from GMO soy
Most plant-based meats are often made from GMO soybeans, which have been shown to disrupt the gut microbiota and cause gastrointestinal distress in humans.
Soybeans are also one of the most heavily sprayed crops with glyphosate, which results in high levels of residue in plants and food products.
Glyphosphate is used as a herbicide on many crops, including soybeans, corn, and wheat.
The World Health Organization considers glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen.
Research shows that glyphosate can cause cancer, with the well studied in humans being non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
Glyphosate can also cause reproductive toxicity and may damage the chromosomes in cells of the reproductive system and cause birth defects.
In animal studies, glyphosate has been linked to infertility, birth defects, and tumors.
Glyphosate can also increase toxic chemicals in the environment and contaminate water supplies, as well as harm plants and animals that live in the environment.
Some could be highly-priced
In some cases, plant-based meats can cost more than their meat counterparts. For example, vegan chicken tenders can cost more than twice as much as regular chicken tenders. And soy bacon costs about three times as much as regular.
There are several reasons for this price difference. For one, plant-based meats generally require more ingredients and processing than meat products do.
Another reason for the increased cost of plant-based meats is that these products often require more time and attention to produce a quality meal.
Nonetheless, there are ways to reduce the cost of plant-based meals. For example, you can choose cheaper ingredients or make your own vegan versions of classic dishes using less expensive ingredients.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Plant-Based Meat
When choosing vegan meat options, it’s important to consider a variety of factors. Some of these include:
1. Do you like the taste?
While some people find plant-based meats to be bland, others enjoy the unique flavor profiles of different types of plant-based meat.
Some popular plant-based meats include seitan, tofu, tempeh, and mock chicken. It is important to try different types of plants to see which ones you like best.
Some plant-based meats, like seitan and tofu, are textured and can have a strong flavor depending on the ingredients used. Others, like veggie burgers made from legumes or grains, may be less intense in flavor. So it’s important to find vegan meat that you enjoy eating!
2. Are you contributing to the suffering of animals?
Many think cutting meat out of their diet is the answer to helping animals.
It might be, but you also need to consider what other foods you’re eating.
Dairy and eggs are just as bad for animal welfare as beef, pork, and chicken. The cows on dairy farms are constantly impregnated, so they produce more milk. Male chicks born on egg farms are ground up alive because they can’t lay eggs and don’t grow quickly enough for meat.
Eating plant-based meats doesn’t stop these abuses from happening. That’s why it’s important to look at more than just your dietary choices when deciding how best to reduce animal suffering.
You should also avoid buying products tested on animals or containing ingredients tested on animals. Instead, buy products made by companies that adopt sustainable practices.
3. Is it healthy?
The most important factor to consider before choosing plant-based meat is whether it’s healthy.
What natural nutrients does it have? Is it highly processed? Does it contain too much sodium? What about additives? If yes, you should reconsider.
4. Can you afford it?
Price is one of the most important factors that should be considered when choosing plant-based meat.
The price will vary depending on where you purchase it from and what type of meat you are looking for.
For example, if you want to purchase soy protein, you can find it in bulk at places like Whole Foods and Costco.
However, if you want something like Gardein chicken or Beyond Meat, the prices may differ depending on where it is purchased.
More Related Articles
- Dr. Sebi’s List
- What is the Difference between Plant-based and Vegan?
- Intermittent Fasting
- Should Vegans take Supplements?
- 21 Sneaky Non Vegan Ingredients to avoid
So, why does vegan food try so hard to imitate the look and texture of meat? First and foremost, it’s good to understand that mimicking meat doesn’t make you less vegan!
On the contrary, it can make you stick around longer, especially if you’re starting. I mean, why would you go back if you can make a similar product with healthy ingredients?
Eating foods that mimic the feeling of meat can satisfy your cravings in a way that is not harmful to your health or the environment.
It may also make your social interactions easy and help you maintain your cultural practices.
That being said, some vegans are completely turned off by the idea of plant-based meat. So the answer comes down to personal preference.
Whatever your verdict is, ensure what you’re eating is healthy, and not harming animals, and of course, you should enjoy it.
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