Is it necessary to eat meat?

Alternatives to eating meat


Is meat necessary?

For many years, many people have asked this question. Is it necessary to eat meat from animals in order to live and enjoy good health?

The answer to this question lies in the numerous societies or individuals that have vegetarianism as a way of life. Populations are known where their components never eat meat. In spite of this, these individuals enjoy very good health and a full and long life.

There is no doubt that meat is a very complete food from a nutritional point of view. It brings energy through fats; vitamins and minerals.

Vegetable foods can provide energy through high-quality vegetable fats and carbohydrates. Plant foods are very rich in vitamins and minerals. However meat advocates have always maintained that this food should be eaten because vegetables can not meet the protein people need.

Can you live without meat? Alternatives to meat

There are many foods of plant origin that can be considered as real alternatives to animal meat.

Among this type of food we have, as we have mentioned, vegetable meats. They are products made from vegetables that have the texture and their meat-like properties (More information on vegetable meat in the above list)

Vegetable meat is the most similar alternative to animal meat. However, it is not the only vegetable food we can eat to replace the meat. There are plant foods especially rich in proteins, among which we have the following:

Legumes: It should be noted that legume proteins are of lower quality than animal protein because they lack amino acids tryptophan, cysteine ​​and methionine.

However combining this food group with other foods like cereals, rich in missing amino acids, manages to provide very healthy proteins.

In addition, the combination between legumes and cereals allows the cereal to be added to the amino acid lysine, which is very abundant in legumes and quite deficient in cereals. Within legumes, soy is the food that contains a more balanced composition of amino acids. Lentils are also a very suitable source of protein.

Protein content of some legumes per 100 g
Green beans1, 8 g
Dry white beans20 g
Dried red beans21 g
Dried adzuki beans21 g
Lentils23 g
Dried soy33 g
Fresh green peas21 g
Dried chickpeas21 g
Broad beans25 g

– Cereals: Cereals are rich in protein. Proteins are found in the inner mass or endosperm and in the germ.

Among all cereals, due to its protein richness, rice, oats and wheat stand out.

Cereal proteins alone are not as complete as those in meat because they lack some essential amino acids, such as lysine.

However, cereals can be combined with other plant foods, such as legumes, to complement each other.

Protein content of some cereals per 100 g
Wheat13,6 g
Rice7,94 g
Oats7,10 g
Maize9,42 g
Millet11,02 g
Barley12,4 g
Quinoa13,10 g
Rye14,76 g
Triticale13,5 g

Nuts: They are very rich in protein, although lack some amino acids. They can be completed with the other groups.

Protein content of some nuts per 100 g
Walnuts13,6 g
Chestnuts3,7 g
Hazelnuts14,95 g
Almonds21,26 g
Pistachios20,61 g
Brazil nuts14,34 g
Macadamias7,91 g

Vegetables and fruits: Although very few, they also have proteins.

Protein content of some fruits and vegetables per 100 g
Apples0, 19 g
Oranges1,04 g
Peaches0,70 g
Cabbages1,44 g
Asparagus2,28 g
Carrots3 g
Potatoes2 g

A good combination of vegetable foods containing cereals, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds can provide the right proteins without eating meat.

How is animal meat different from “vegetable meat”?

The main differences between both foods focus on proteins and fats.

Vegetable fats are healthier

Animal meat is very rich in saturated fats. Saturated fats are responsible for numerous cardiovascular problems, since they block the blood vessels and promote the appearance of numerous circulatory diseases. In addition, meat of animal origin contains a lot of cholesterol.

Fats from vegetable meat and vegetable foods are mostly unsaturated, so they make the blood more fluid and prevent vascular diseases. In addition, some of these fats, such as omega 3 or omega 6, may provide additional benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties, anticancer, skin health benefits, etc.

Thus, from the point of view of fats, vegetable meat and vegetable foods have more advantages and less disadvantages than animal meat.

Animal meat has higher quality proteins

With regard to proteins, animal meat has higher quality proteins than vegetable meat and foods of plant origin.

Proteins from meat of animal origin contain all amino acids.

Vegetable foods contain protein, although each plant food does not contain all the amino acids.

Within vegetable products, vegetable meat is made to contain all amino acids. Even so, animal flesh contains a greater amount, therefore it provides more protein.

Composition of tempeh, soybean and beef per 100 gr.
Tempeh, cookedSoy bean, seeds, cooked, unsaltedLean beef with separate fat, unsalted
Water59,56 g62,5 g58,9 g
Calories197 Kcal173 Kcal192 Kcal
Fat8,9 g8,9 g6,3 g
Protein11,38 g16,64 g31,5 g
Carbohydrates9,35 g9,9 g0
Fiber—-6 g0
Potassium401 mg515 mg308 mg
Sodium14 mg1 mg51 mg
Phosphorus253 mg245 mg272 mg
Calcium96 mg102 mg5 mg
Magnesium77 mg86 mg25 mg
Manganese1,300 mg0,710 mg0,018 mg
Iron2,3 mg5,1 mg3, 46 mg
Zinc1,57 mg1,15 mg5, 4 mg
Copper0, 540 mg0, 40 mg0,13 mg
Vitamin C—-1,7 mg0
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0,054 mg0,15 mg0, 07 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0, 357 mg0, 28 mg0, 26 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)2,135 mg0, 39 mg4, 08
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)0, 199 mg0, 23 mg0, 36 mg
Vitamina B9 (Folic acid -) Folacin21 mcg54 mcg11
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)0,14mcg0.0 mcg1.42
Vitamin A—-9 IU0
Vitamina E1,9 mg0
Amino acids of tofu and beef per 100 gr.
Hard Tofu.prepared with calciumUnsalted lean beef
Aspartic acid0.8882.886
Glutamic acid1.3904.746

* Related information: Seitan for babies, , how to preserve seitan

More information on vegetable meat.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

11 November, 2021

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