Plant meat, the futuristic variant of food, the term itself sounds paradoxical doesn’t it?? It sure does. But it also won’t ring a bell if you do not have much time to pay attention to international news and going-ons.
What does this term bring to your mind? A laboratory preparing such type of ingenious products? Or a farmer making something on similar lines? You won’t be totally wrong!
What exactly is plant meat?
“Plant meat is the eco-friendly alternative to the non-vegetarian stuff you have been eating from years.”
Simple to process, isn’t it?? So, read on ahead to find out why then plant meat is a necessity of the hour?
Come to see the rising population and the ensuing increased demands on resources, there is a pressing need for finding alternative food types for the existing and newer population on this planet.
One such alternative is plant meat. Plant meat looks and tastes just like your original favourite meat or beef. The only difference being it is made out of sustainable ingredients.
So it is a win-win for both – you and the planet. Doing something for the planet without doing much yourself sounds satisfying, right?
As you all know, meats and non-vegetarian foods in general are highly fatty even if tasty; plant meat is the healthier alternative. People over the world, who’ve tried it, have found it to be the best meaty alternative and yeah, also less fat inducing at that!!!
Let’s not rush though and carefully learn about this alternative meat right from its origination.
Evolution of plant meat:
Before understanding the concept of plant meat, it is important to get an understanding of evolution of plant meat, also known as artificial meat or cultured meat.
Man’s interest towards basic meat can be traced back to the stone-age, when animal meat was the only way to fill one’s stomach.
There were vegetarian alternatives too, but meat seemed to be the popular bet, it being on the heavier side. Meaning it was more filling and kept man from becoming hungry at frequent intervals. The way meat was consumed kept on changing with time. Various methods were used by humans to cook meat as per available resources. This change in eating patterns largely corresponds to civilization.
Cooking, roasting, marinating, frying, baking and a host of other cooking styles of making meat, as you readers know, came into the picture with evolution and setting up of civilization. Life became more exciting, as a result of making cooking a little more sophisticated, if not difficult and time-consuming.
Different cuisines of different countries got known worldwide for their non-vegetarian fare that comprises of beef, pork and of course meats of various animals.
Meat is then, good for the palate, the stomach and for foodies world over. But, what about the planet????? The story is sadly not the same in case of the planet. After all, meat comes from animals that come from this planet. But since other alternatives weren’t explored, it resulted in a toll on the planet.
All this led to research and development related to finding an alternative form that though not original meat, may at least taste like it.
Plant meat thus came into the picture as exploration of an alternative was given a thought due to rising concerns related to saving our planet. There were other reasons too; such as various sections of society raising concerns over animal rights and people largely adopting a vegetarian diet.
What is plant meat exactly made of?
You have been reading this article from quite a while; let’s tell you the secret ingredient that makes the meat in plant meat!
Plant meat is made out of a substance called heme. What in heavens is heme???? Would be your obvious query (which isn’t wrong either!!!) Read on!
Heme to put in the simplest form is a part of the haemoglobin in our body. This heme component is responsible for giving our blood the colour it has – red that is. Simple isn’t it?
Now you may ask why only heme of all the chemicals is available. Primarily, Heme cooks just like meat and two, it also tastes like it!
The eater is bound to get the same feel and satisfaction of having downed a “beefy” chunk of meat! So, when you my dear reader have invested few dollars for the same, we assure you that you won’t be disappointed!
Moving on, plant-based meat products are also made from easier available alternatives such as soy, wheat gluten (also known as seitan), tofu, jackfruit, quorn, eggplants, onions, beans, cheese, mushrooms and potatoes.
You must be wondering what are the food items that have been experimented with for the plant meat proposition so far? Burgers, sandwiches and baked steak chips are few snacks that are being experimented with. For these are very popular among younger generation. Hence, these products are the ones to be chosen for preparing them with plant-based materials like those mentioned above.
Let us now check how original animal based meat gets replaced with plant meat by taking an example of a burger.
What are the ingredients of a normal burger?
A simple burger that you get at any of the fast-food outlets consists of a patty that is either made of beef, bacon, turkey etc. If made in vegetarian components, then the meat simply gets replaced by potato and peas.
Calorie wise, it is pretty obvious that the original meat burger is not really healthy and being loaded with animal fat makes it unhealthier.
Further, steak is derived from cow meat, chicken, fish, pork, ham and lamb. So if the steaks are made out of healthier ingredients, they not only satiate your hunger but also preserve your health.
Having said this, non-vegetarians will never like to have their burgers loaded with veggies. They will rather not eat a burger. However, for keeping those fats in check and also enjoy the taste of meat, plant-based meat becomes the best alternative to be used for burgers.
Since we are moving towards health related aspects, let us delve into further benefits of plant meat in the next section.
What are the health benefits of plant meat?
Today, people are much more health conscious than they were ever before. Also, if any food product is benefiting health, then why not try it? Health is the primary reason that fake meat or cultured meat is likely to get acceptance.
There are a hell lot of reasons and health benefits that people would derive from plant-based meat and hence, it is sure to be preferred in future, once it gains credibility. Going off the actual meat bestows plenty of health benefits to people.
Meat diets are highly inflammatory in nature. They can lead to serious gastrointestinal disorders, heart diseases and stroke to name a few. In other words, they do nothing for your digestion. Plant based meats are easier to digest and hence, a good food-group for your digestive system.
Further, if you have high cholesterol, then you are at higher risk – that of ruining your health. Plant based meat does not come with this type of baggage, so it doesn’t sabotage your health! They are lower in fat-content as well, so are good for your health.
Moving on, by incorporating a plant-based meat diet, you also fortify yourself against putting on weight and even getting any of the heart diseases prevalent in this age.
If you have a family history of diabetes, then going off the animal meat would do you a world of good.
Plant-based meat options are known to have a higher protein and fiber content. So, the body’s nutritional requirements are effectively met.
Those plant-based meats which have soy and tofu as their ingredients, are widely beneficial for people too. For one, soy reduces cholesterol levels in your blood and also strengthens bones in women. Additionally, you are also fortified from heart diseases.
Lastly, you also get the psychological satisfaction that your food consumption habits aren’t harming the nature but in fact contributing in its safeguarding.
On a parting note, only time will tell if these alternative meats are indeed the future for meat-eaters. Enough is said about the benefits that plant-based meat bestows on the eater.
Vegetarians can try it for the fun of eating faux non-vegetarian fare. And the non-vegetarians for the benefits that these alternative options trump over the original meat.
So, go ahead, give it a try and of course watch this space for more on plant meat!