What Is Plant-Based Meat?
In recent years, plant-based meat has significantly increased in popularity, and for a good reason! These products offer a healthier alternative to animal protein while being more sustainable and environmentally friendly. In the past, if you wanted to reduce your meat consumption (or eliminate it entirely), you would have only had fruits, vegetables, and legumes to turn to. Now, you can get all the flavor and enjoyment of meat without any of the unwanted side effects. But what is plant-based meat? We don’t blame you for asking! With so many new companies popping up to fill the demand for meat alternatives, it can be hard to keep track of how each offering is different and what you should be looking for. But fear not! We’ve got all the answers to some of the most common questions about plant-based meat alternatives.
What Is Plant-Based Meat?
Simply put, plant-based meat is any product made from a combination of plant materials designed to mimic meat in taste, texture, smell, and appearance. Usually, these products come in the form of burgers, sausages, ground meat or crumbles, nuggets, and even faux seafood. That said, we aren’t saying every product currently available and marked as a “plant-based meat” is successful in achieving that goal. Certainly, not all plant-based meats are created equal. When made correctly, there are many benefits of plant based meat alternative products.
Types Of Plant-Based Meats
More specifically, there are two main types of plant-based meats: whole muscle meat and restructured meat. Whole muscle meat products are created to mimic an entire steak, chicken breast, or the like, usually leveraging a 3D-printed structure to give the product an authentic muscle feel, which is a defining characteristic of animal meat.
On the other hand, restructured meat substitutes are those products like meatless ground beef, meatballs, sausages, burgers, and nuggets that are pre-formed. The current offerings from Meatless Farm fall under the restructured meat category. Still, we are always innovating new ways to serve our customers by exploring how plants can be used to create new and exciting flavors or meatless meat products.
What is in Plant-Based Meat?
The simple answer (which you might have guessed) is plants! As we said before, not all plant-based meat is created equal, so you will want to look closely at the ingredients listed on the packaging. Wondering how plant based meat is made? Plant-based meats can be developed using a variety of ingredients depending on the type of meat being created and the company producing it, and not all of those ingredients are good or good for you.
Some of the most common ingredients you’ll see in plant-based meats include grains and legumes, which can be converted into isolates, flours, and concentrates to supply the meat alternative with necessary protein, fibers, and starches. At Meatless Farm, we opt to use pea protein, protein isolate and concentrate and rice protein as some of our primary ingredients.
In addition to grains and legumes, you will see several other ingredients that are required to give plant-based meats the right color, texture, and taste, whether it is plant-based sausage, beef, or chicken. Finding the right color is often accomplished by using a mixture of fruit and vegetable juice extracts, while the texture is achieved from using the right sources of plant protein. But all of this effort would be for nothing if you can’t get the right taste. Creating the right umami flavor to mimic animal proteins’ taste is a delicate job, but most often, you’ll see it executed by using yeast extracts and natural flavorings.
Want to learn more about how Meatless Farm makes our meatless meat products? We’ve got nothing to hide and broke down all the specifics in a recent blog post!
What are the Benefits of Plant-Based Meats?
Plant-based meats likely increased in popularity as a result of the many health and wellness benefits they offer. More specifically, increased plant-based protein consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of certain diseases, maintenance of blood sugar levels, lowered cholesterol, weight loss, and reduced environmental impact.