Are plant-based meat healthy?

Plant based meat

A meat alternative or meat substitute also known as plant-based meat is a food product made from vegetarian ingredients. They are eaten as a replacement for meat. They are frequently made with soy that is tofu, tempeh, and vegetable protein, but may also be made from wheat gluten.

The growing popularity of plant-based meat products is because of various factors, including health, sustainability, and most importantly animal welfare. The demand for plant-based meat is growing worldwide but is more common in countries like Europe, North America, and Australia and in Asian countries like China, India, Indonesia etc due to increasing health and environmental awareness (1).

What is a plant-based meat?

Plant-based meat refers to food products designed to replicate the taste, texture, and appearance of traditional animal-based meat like pork, beef, chicken, seafood, etc. They are mainly made up of plant-derived ingredients.

The primary source of protein in plant-based meat comes from plants like- soybeans, wheat, peas, rice, lentils, chickpeas, etc. For flavoring yeast, vegetable broth, spices, and natural and artificial flavors are also used (2).

Nutritional content 

The nutritional content of plant-based meat can vary depending on the brand and type of product. Below is a typical breakdown of the nutritional content of a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked plant-based meat (3)

1. Protein

Plant-based meat is a good source of protein, similar to traditional meat. They generally contain 15-25 grams of protein per serving.

2. Calories

The calorie content is lower than traditional meat. They typically contain 150-250 calories per serving.

3. Fat

Plant-based meat contains moderate amounts of fat, typically 10-20 grams.

4. Carbohydrates

The amount of carbohydrates is generally low in plant-based meat like 5 -10 grams per serving.

5. Fiber

Plant-based meats have less fiber than whole plant foods.

6. Vitamins and Minerals

Plant-based meats contain vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, and zinc, which are also found in animal products.

7. Sodium

The amount of sodium is generally higher in plant-based meat.

Comparison between plant-based meat and traditional meat (4).

Traditional meat

Plant-based meat


Derived from animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, and fish. Prepared from plant-based ingredients such as peas, soy, wheat, and other plant proteins.


An excellent source of protein containing all important amino acids. Contain protein but in lesser amounts than traditional meat.

Fat and Cholesterol

They contain varying amounts of saturated fat and contain cholesterol. Generally have lower saturated fat compared to some traditional meat. But they are cholesterol-free.


Rich in iron, vitamin B12, and zinc. Are rich in minerals like B12, zinc but usually low in iron.


Have higher environmental problems like greenhouse, gas emissions, landuse and water consumption. Way less environmental problems compared to traditional meat.

Ethical point

It involves farming practices that raise ethical concerns for animal welfare. They are not involved in direct use of animals and are aligned with ethical and cruelty-free food choices.


Common in traditional meat consumption. Allergies are not frequent but also not rare in a few plant-based meat products.


It has an inbuilt taste and texture. Mimics the taste and texture of traditional meat.

Benefits of plant-based meat

  • Plant-based meat production generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Raising animals for meat requires vast amounts of land for grazing, feeding, etc, whereas plant-based meat requires significantly less land which helps to reduce growing deforestation.
  • Plant-based meat production generally requires less water, which is crucial in regions facing water scarcity.
  • Also generates fewer harmful pollutants compared to traditional meat.
  • It consumes less energy in production compared to animal meat.
  • Plant-based meat does not use antibiotics in production.
  • It is more ethical as it does not promote animal cruelty.
  • It is a more sustainable food system compared to traditional meat (5).

Health benefits of plant-based meat

1. Lower saturated fat

Are generally lower in saturated fat compared to animal-based meat. A diet high in saturated fat is unhealthy for the heart as it gives rise to various cardiovascular diseases.

2. Cholesterol free

Do not contain cholesterol, which is only found in animal-based products. Excessive dietary cholesterol can contribute to heart disease.

3. Lower calorie content

Plant-based meats often have fewer calories as compared to animal-based products.

4. Rich in fiber

Some plant-based meats are a good source of dietary fiber, important for digestive health.

5. Food safety

Are less likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella, which can be found in uncooked animal meats (6).

Side effects

Below are some potential side effects of consuming plant-based meat regularly

1. Allergies

Some people may be allergic to a few plant-based products like wheat, and soy which sometimes leads to swelling, skin disease, etc.

2. High sodium

Some plant-based products are relatively high in sodium (salt) to enhance the flavor which leads to high blood pressure and other heart-related problems.

3. Weight gain

If the plant-based products are consumed in a huge amount, it can lead to weight gain.

4. Digestive problem

Plant-based products contain fibers,sugar which if taken regularly can lead to bloating, gas, and other stomach related problems.

5. Sensitivities

Some people may be sensitive to certain flavorings, or spices used in plant-based meat products which leads to gastro problems.

6. Processed ingredients

Some plant-based meats may contain processed ingredients, which can be unsavory for a few people.

7. Individual choice

Taste preferences vary widely among individuals, and some people may not enjoy the taste of plant-based products and may prefer animal products over them (7).

Types of plant-based meat

The few basic types of plant-based meats are

Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Also known as soy meat, soy chunks, or soy protein, it is a defatted soy flour protein product that is actually a by-product of the soy oil making process.TVP comes from pea, mung bean, and brown rice, rather than soy, which creates a complete protein, or a protein that has all nine essential amino acids (8).


Tofu is made from condensed soy milk that has been compressed into blocks. In many ways, it’s made in a way similar to cheese. Being made from soybeans, it is naturally high in calcium and protein which is why it is a staple in vegan diets along with mushroom dishes.


This is an Indonesian soy product that is similar to tofu in many respects. It is made by fermenting the soybeans in a natural and controlled fermentation process before pressing the product into a cake form. It is slightly firmer than tofu and possesses a nutty flavor and a grainy texture in comparison to traditional tofu. Tempeh is packed with protein as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals including calcium, making it another healthy alternative to meat.


Seitan is made from pure wheat gluten. This is the protein found in bread products that give it its elasticity. Developed by vegetarian Buddhist monks in China and Japan, it has been eaten there for centuries as a meat substitute.


This is one of the original brands of plant-based meat alternatives and their burger patties.


Made from soy protein or wheat gluten, tofurkey is similar in taste and texture to turkey and is widely enjoyed by vegetarians and vegans as a turkey alternative (9).



1. What is a plant based meat really made of?

The primary source comes from plants like- soybeans, wheat, peas, rice, lentils, chickpeas, etc.

2. Is plant based meat healthier?

Yes, it is way more healthier compared to traditional meat, because the products come from plant sources.

3. What is the plant-based meat method?

The production methods and processes such as

  • Mixing and blending.
  • Texturization.
  • Flavoring.
  • Coloring.
  • Cooking and shaping
  • Packaging.

4. What is Chinese mock meat made from?

Chinese mock meat also known as ‘ vegetarian meat’ is made from a variety of plant-based ingredients like soy, wheat gluten, starch, etc.


  • Plant-based meat is a type of food product made from plant ingredients.
  • It mimics the taste, texture, and appearance of traditional meat.
  • They are made from proteins like soy, peas, wheat gluten, etc.
  • Have various health benefits by being low in fat, cholesterol, etc.
  • They have huge environmental advantages like producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional meat.
  • Also favored by vegetarians and individuals seeking an animal cruelty-free environment and good health.

Written By: Ankita