What Is Vegan Meat Made Of?

The plant-based food industry has grown incredibly popular over the last decade, and for good reason. 

People are becoming more aware of practices that harm animals and the environment, looking for food products that are made without causing harm. 

What Is Vegan Meat Made Of?

Vegan meat is an example of these foods. Other than being healthier than animal-sourced meat, plant-based meat has a tasty texture and taste that rivals regular meat.

They’re also a lot more available than they were in the past, as certain brands, like Beyond Meat and Quron, are popular with vegans and non-vegans alike. 

We’ll cover more about vegan meat in this post, including what it is, what it’s made from, and how manufacturers make vegan meat taste like regular meat. 

What Is Vegan Meat?

Vegan meats are food products that are made without animal matter. They offer non-meat eaters an alternative to common meat products, like burgers, sausages, nuggets, and steaks

Some examples, like a traditional veggie burger, are mainly made from legumes and vegetables. 

Others are made with protein extracted from plants, like soybeans, wheat, and peas.

Modern technology has made it possible to produce these protein extracts in a way that mimics the consistency, appearance, and flavor of animal meat. 

A popular example is Impossible Burger’s ‘bleeding’ patties, which imitate regular meat’s bleeding properties in a vegan-friendly manner. 

What Is Vegan Meat Made From?

The term plant-based meat essentially means meat-like products made from plants. However, the process that makes these products is more complex than the term suggests. 

Vegan meats are currently made from a variety of different plant matter. This helps produce products with a tasty texture and flavor, without slaughtering animals to make them.

Common ingredients used to make vegan meat are:

  • Legumes, like lentils or soybeans
  • Vegetable protein (usually pea protein)
  • Grains, like quinoa
  • Seitan, known as vital wheat gluten
  • Coconut oil

Vegan meat companies all create their plant-based meat with different ingredients.

One factor all of these manufacturers share is that their vegan meat products are made without the cruelty and suffering related to factory farming.

How Does Vegan Meat Resemble Meat?

Vegan meat manufacturers, like popular brands Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, create products that have a realistic ‘meaty’ look, taste, and feel. 

Here are some ways how plant-based meat companies make their products resemble regular meat:

Flavor

Plant-based burgers can be made with a blend of pea protein and other substances, like coconut oil, to give it a hearty, meat-like taste. Other examples blend protein from soy, potatoes, and a special substance called heme. 

Heme is a molecule that contains iron. It is an important molecule for several biological processes, like storing and transporting oxygen, but it can also make vegan meat taste like regular meat. 

Look

A lot of vegan meat substitutes look like real meat, giving former meat eaters a familiar eating experience. 

Heme, a molecule that can give these substitutes a meaty flavor, also helps to give vegan meat a ‘bleeding’ effect. 

Vegan meat manufacturers can also mimic this effect with natural food colorings, like beet juice.

What Is Vegan Meat Made Of?

Consistency

Several vegan meat substitutes also have a juicy feel, just like regular meat. This is often done with extrusion, a process that involves heating, cooling, and cooking protein until its consistency resembles animal-sourced meat. 

Other brands may use heme to give their vegan meat a juicy texture, along with the red color and savory taste seen in animal meat. 

Is Vegan Meat Healthy?

Vegan meat products do have extensive ingredient lists compared to animal meat products, but the ingredient list can be misleading. 

Plant-based meat products can often come under fire for being ‘processed’, but animal meat is often highly processed as well. 

Factory farming is not a natural process. A large number of antibiotics to prevent illnesses, selective breeding of animals, and chemicals used to sanitize meat once the animal is slaughtered, can hardly be thought of as ‘healthy’ or ‘clean’.

Additionally, animal-sourced meats have a risk of disease, due to the filthy conditions and fecal matter in the areas where the animals live and die.

Choosing a plant-based meat meal instead of one with animal meat isn’t just kinder to animals, it’s better for your health too. 

If you are searching for healthier vegan meat products, keep an eye out for wholesome ingredients on the label, like lentils, mushrooms, peas, and jackfruit.

Remember that vegan meat doesn’t automatically count as healthy food. Most people would understand that a burger, both animal and plant-based, is not a healthy choice. 

Despite this, plant-based meats help people satisfy cravings for meat products, all without the saturated fat and cholesterol within animal protein.

Cholesterol is connected with strokes and heart disease, but all plant-based food products are cholesterol-free. 

It’s important to limit your intake of processed foods, but swapping animal meat products for vegan meat is a much healthier choice. 

Is Vegan Meat Eco-Friendly?

Vegan meat isn’t just ideal for your health, it can also help us sustain an environmentally friendly planet.

Plant-based food needs fewer resources, often water and land, compared to animal-sourced food. Around 20% of the earth’s freshwater goes into producing dairy and meat. 

Animal agriculture also contributes to climate change, as it’s responsible for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

In contrast, plant-based meat needs 47% to 99% less land and 72% to 99% less water compared to regular meat.

It also creates 30% to 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and 51% to 91% less aquatic nutrient pollution than animal meat. 

This huge difference indicates that plant-based foods, along with vegan meat, are a lot more sustainable compared to regular meat.

The Bottom Line

Vegan meat has several advantages over animal meat. It’s comparatively healthier, eco-friendly, and kinder to animals than regular meat products.

Vegan meat can be made from a variety of plant-based sources, including legumes, grains, and vegetable protein.

The manufacturers can also use certain ingredients to make it resemble animal meat, notably heme, which mimics the taste, look, and feel of regular meat.

Switching to vegan meat can help satisfy cravings for animal meat products, all without harming animals or contributing to climate change! 

Jenna Priestly
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