Trying to cut back on meat? Here are ten dietitian-approved alternatives worth trying.
Thanks to the rise of #plantpower, the faux meat section of the supermarket has grown exponentially in the last few years. In contrast to popular belief, however, these products aren’t always better for you than the real deal. Some are packed to the rafters with salt and saturated fat, while others lack the all-important protein of the foods these products are designed to replace.
This is might come as no surprise to you, but as a dietitian, I’d much prefer you focus on real, plant-based wholefoods over highly processed products that mimic meat. I’m talking tofu, legumes (like beans, chickpeas and lentils), nuts and seeds. These foods offer many of the same nutrients as meat and other animal products – not only muscle-building protein, but essential micronutrients like iron for oxygen transport and zinc for wound healing, too.
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In practicality, however, I totally understand that some people just want convenient, ready-to-go options from the supermarket instead having to slave over vego alternatives for hours on end. Enter: plant-powered burgers, sausages, fillets and mince.
How to spot a healthy plant-based product
All in all, my recent escapade to the vego section of my local supermarkets served me well. There are now, more than ever, plenty of truly healthy, dietitian-approved products that can somewhat replace red meat and poultry, nutritionally speaking.
By far, the best category was plant-based burgers – but I’d suggest exercising a little caution around sausages, fillets and mince. To help you distinguish the good from the bad, here’s what I was looking for:
- A short ingredients list filled with easily-recognisable wholefoods. Think: vegetables, wholegrains and spices over numbers and words you’ve never heard of before.
- As low in sodium as possible. I’d recommend less than 500mg per serve.
- Less than five grams of saturated fat per serve, and the lower, the better. Coconut oil in the ingredients list is a dead giveaway that the product is high in saturated fat.
- High in protein to keep you feeling full. A balanced meal contains about 20 grams of protein – that’s easy enough to get with the following options when you round out your lunch or dinner with wholegrains, nuts, seeds or extra legumes. If you’re not vegan, dairy foods like yoghurt and cheese can also help to up the protein content.
The healthiest meat alternatives on supermarket shelves
To save you the hard work, I trawled through all of the available plant-powered products in my local Woolies and Coles and selected ten of the best, which I’ve listed below. So, what’s on your next #meatfreemonday menu?
- Coles Nature’s Kitchen Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
Per 125g serve: 957kJ, 8.9g protein, 1.3g fat,
- Yumi’s Roast Veggie Burgers
Per 125g serve: 1590kJ, 10.1g protein, 11.4g fat, 1g sat fat, 24.7g carbs, 3.9g sugar, 8.6g fibre, 350mg sodium
- Macro Vegie-Lish Moroccan Inspired Burger
Per 125g serve: 1170kJ, 9g protein, 8.4g fat, 0.8g sat fat, 38.3g carbs, 4.9gsugar, 7.1g fibre, 288mg sodium
- Australian EatWell Lentil Vegie Burgers
Per 125g serve: 800kJ, 7.5g protein, 7.5g fat, 0.6g sat fat, 38.5g carbs, 9.1g sugar, 10.5g fibre, 413mg sodium
- Vegie Delights Beef Style Burgers
Per 75g serve: 465kJ, 13.4g protein, 3g fat, 0.3g sat fat, 5.5g carbs, 1.1g sugar, 4.1g fibre, 455mg sodium
- Bean Supreme Hemp Burgers
Per 85g serve: 618kJ, 7.9g protein, 5.8g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 12.9g carbs, 1.6g sugar, 6.2g fibre, 366mg sodium
- Quorn Mince
Per 100g: 436kJ, 14.2g protein, 3.1g fat,
- Vegie Delights Savoury Vegie Mince
Per 100g: 500kJ, 13g protein, 0.4g fat, 0.1g sat fat, 12.6g carbs, 3.3g sugar, 5.7g fibre, 240mg sodium
- Tofurky Plant-Based Original Sausage Italian
Per 63g: 723kJ, 15.5g protein, 9.8g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 6.1g carbs, 1.5g sugar, 310mg sodium
- Plant Asia Plant-Based Roast Chicken
Per 100g: 586kJ, 24g protein, 0.5g fat,
Please note that some of these products are not vegan.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.