Meat and meat alternatives – always worth a discussion!
Many meat lovers love the smell of a grilled steak and often say that nothing beats a good burger. At the same time, many people are trying to reduce their meat consumption either for ethical reasons or environmental concerns. Another reason is that many people are concerned about the impact of meat consumption and especially red meat on their health. Many studies have shown that high meat consumption is partly responsible for many diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or even cancer.
Meat consumption – a health risk?
Scientists have the greatest concerns about “processed meat products”, such as smoked, cured and preservative-treated meat and sausage products, salami, bacon and many more.
Large-scale survey studies conducted by the renowned Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the World Health Organization (WHO) have revealed: Daily consumption of just 50 grams of processed meat products per day (the equivalent of about 3 slices of salami or a small sausage) increases the probability of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent, cardiovascular diseases by 42 percent and diabetes by 51 percent. Part of the risk does not come from the meat at all, but from the substances added to it or the compounds formed during production. Unprocessed meat such as steaks, cutlet and minced meat products also pose a health risk.
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to generally label all meat as harmful, it can certainly enrich a healthy diet. Meat is extremely high in quality protein, important trace elements and essential vitamins. Additionally, animal proteins such as meat, are considered complete sources of protein as they contain all amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own.
Meat substitutes and meat alternatives in abundance
When it comes to replacing meat, the focus is always on proteins, so that the replacement products look as much like meat as possible and replace their function in a meal. So far, products made from soybeans, tempeh or tofu, are considered to be the most popular meat alternatives. In addition, scientists and product developers have also discovered peas, lupins or field beans as rich sources of protein, and in the production of meat substitutes, these are popular as the basis for burgers and the like.
But that’s not all! Scientists are very creative when it comes to producing “tasty” alternatives to meat. Today, sausages, vegan minced meat or bread spreads – “meat paste” based on fungi – are also available. The fungus Fusarium is grown and then fermented, resulting in a fibrous mycoprotein, which gives the products a meat-like consistency.
One of the most discussed food trends at the moment is undoubtedly synthetic meat, the so-called “in-vitro meat.” It is the result of sophisticated biotechnological techniques. The propagation of stem cells from animals in the laboratory makes it possible to produce meat that is similar to the consistency of real meat from animals. What once seemed impossible is becoming more and more of a reality. At the moment, the high production cost is still a limiting factor of mass producing “in-vitro meat.” However, scientists expect that by 2030 at the latest, the processes will be developed to the point where the price of synthetic meat will be the same as that of animal meat.
How healthy are meat substitutes?
Meat substitutes or meat growing in popularity and not only among vegans or vegetarians. Therefore, it is also important to examine the health aspects of these substitutes. In fact, meat substitutes are highly processed foods whose list of ingredients contains high-quality ingredients. However, during processing, these natural ingredients are broken down and vitamins, minerals and trace elements are lost. It is also unclear to what extent the protein structure changes, and whether these proteins can also be broken down into individual amino acids during digestion.
Since meat substitutes are often broken down to amino acids, it is completely overlooked that meat is one the greatest sources of zinc, in a form readily available to the body. Zinc is a trace element that is indispensable, among other things, for the regulation of insulin and the function of the immune system. This zinc is not found in meat substitutes unless it is added synthetically. However, meat substitutes based on legumes in particular contain, in addition to protein, a higher proportion of carbohydrates, for the optimal metabolization of which zinc would be essential.
What is Metabolic Balance’s position on meat consumption?
Metabolic Balance’s motto on meat consumption is: “The dose makes the poison!” – The vast majority of studies carried out under the aspect – “does meat pose a health risk” – have shown that there is a clear risk to health if there is a high consumption of meat, i. e. more than 500 to 600 g of meat per week. It is also important to keep an eye on the amount of processed meat products (salami, bacon, meat paste, smoked sausages, etc. ) and to reduce them as much as possible. Industrially processed meat products are not integrated into the nutrition plans we create for our clients and clients are coached on appropriate levels of protein for each meal. In addition to reducing meat consumption, we also recommend buying organic and local meat if possible.