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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Jessica

Meat substitutes provide the appearance and taste of meat products but are comprised of non-animal food sources. Meat substitutes are often made of soy, wheat, or beans and include items such as mock meats, veggie burgers, veggie bacon and sausage, and veggie cold cuts.

Animal Meat vs. Meat Substitutes

A comparison of equal servings of chicken and veggie chicken demonstrates that the chicken substitute has half of the calories, one-fourth the amount of fat, and three times the amount of fiber compared to the animal-derived chicken. Furthermore, eating even small amounts of animal meat (even as infrequently as less than one time per week) has been associated with a significantly higher risk of developing degenerative arthritis.

Carcinogens are produced when animal muscle meat is cooked—to the point that carcinogens have even been found in the vapors coming from fried bacon. However, when tempeh (a fermented soybean food with properties similar to cured meat when cooked) was fried and analyzed, there were no carcinogens found in its cooking vapors. A number of other health risks related to eating meat are avoided by using meat substitutes.

Meat substitutes made from soy or other plant-based proteins do not have the high amounts of fiber found in whole plant foods, but when vegan versions of animal proteins were used instead of meat, eggs, and dairy in a study of the Atkins diet (low-carb, high-fat, high-protein), the plant-based diet was associated with significantly lower mortality rates than the animal-protein-based original.

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