Celeb power couple Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma's recent investment into Blue Tribe, a plant-based meat company has drawn more eyes to vegan meat and its benefits. This follows closely on the heels of another celeb couple Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh also sinking their teeth into the vegan meat market.
Let's walk you through what vegan meat is, its health benefits, its drawbacks, its environmental impact, and any other questions you might have.
What Is Vegan Meat?
Vegan meat is a plant-based alternative to animal meat. It's made of soy protein, vegetable protein, lentils, wheat gluten, or a number of other plant-based meat substitutes.
The difference between a vegan meat product and a meatless product is that a meatless product could still include or use other animal products like fat, casein, or whey protein.
Whereas, vegan meat contains no animal products whatsoever. It replaces animal-based sources of fat with plant-based fat.
It's touted and sold as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to animal protein.
What Are the Benefits of Vegan Meat?
The most widely touted aspect of vegan meat is that it is less harmful to animals and the environment, as compared to meat.
The other argument vegan meat has against animal meat is the lowered heart risk that comes with it. Vegan meat contains lower amounts of saturated fat as compared to non-lean animal protein.
The National Institutes of Health(NIH) states that going vegan can reduce the risk of heart disease by 42 percent and cut down the risk of high cholesterol by as much as 75 percent.
According to the NIH, vegans tend to have a lower body mass index as well, when compared to those who eat meat, and are at a 78% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
Research also points to it reducing symptoms of arthritis, inflammation, and joint pain.
And finally, it also leaves a smaller carbon footprint on the planet, when compared to animal meat.
What Are the Drawbacks of Vegan Meat?
Well, first and foremost, vegan meat is expensive. Eating a vegan-friendly diet can be extremely expensive if you want food that tastes good and also meets your nutritional requirements.
Not everyone can afford to follow a vegan diet and keep it friendly on their pockets.
On the topic of nutrients, it's also complex to ensure you meet your nutritional requirements purely from plant-based sources. And no, we don't mean just meeting your daily protein requirement.
While it's technically possible to meet your protein needs with just plant-based foods, it often comes with a higher intake of plant fibre. While fibre is excellent for your cardiovascular health and bowel movement, an excess of fibre can cause gastric discomfort.
In simple terms, you'll likely be passing more gas, at least initially. And it takes some fine-tuning to balance your fibre intake.
Balancing your nutrients can be tricky with vegan meat. You'll need to keep a close eye on nutrient labels, because different brands of vegan meat will have different nutrition profiles.
Getting adequate Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D can also be challenging without supplementation on a vegan diet.
Is Vegan Meat Healthier Than Animal Protein?
While vegan meat certainly wins the argument in terms of saturated fat, its impact on your heart health isn't all good.
Many vegan meat alternatives have extremely high amounts of salt. An increase in your sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and increase your stroke risk.
Interestingly, even on the topic of fat, different versions of the same vegan product can have different amounts of fat - which is why you should always read nutrient labels.
Even on the topic of calories, when compared side-by-side, fast food variants of vegan dishes, like Burger King's Impossible Whopper, share a similar calorie profile.
But when compared to animal products, vegan options tend to pose a reduced cancer risk.
Watch this debate below for more takes and views on vegan vs non vegan benefits.