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NutriPro Make it sizzle: Look closer inside plant-based meat alternatives

Monday, July 13, 2020

Typically made from soy, peas, wheat, or mushrooms, these products look and taste similar to real meat, making them easy to substitute and integrate into favorite recipes.

Using only plant-based ingredients, it is possible to create the look, taste, texture, cooking properties, and even the key nutrients found in real meat. Let's take a look at the main ingredients in plant-based meat alternatives. 

Protein 

The proteins in these foods may come from soy, peas, mushrooms, potatoes, fava beans, brown rice, or other sources. 

Colouring 

Natural pigments from vegetable extracts, spirulina, and malt mimic the red hues of beef and pork and brown when cooked. 

Juiciness 

Plant-based oils may be added for juicy texture, flavour, and the appearance of marbled fat. 

Binders 

Egg whites can be used in non-vegan foods, but methyl cellulose (made with vegetable fibre) is an effective binder for vegan options. 

Nutrients 

Some recipes contain vegetables, nuts, and seeds, along with the vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre they provide. Others even have vitamin B12, iron and zinc added to more closely resemble the nutrient profile of meat. 

Flavour 

Yeast extract may be added to enhance the savory umami flavours. 

Allergy alert 

Some meat alternatives may contain food allergens, so be sure to check with guests before serving. 

Chef’s secrets 

  • Choose products that don't contain artificial colours. Instead, pick products with pigments from vegetable extracts. 
  • Try to provide a complete protein. Soy offers all essential amino acids in sufficient quantities, but sources like pea should be combined with rice or wheat. 
  • Look for products made with 100% plant sources. 
  • Choose the products with the shortest list of ingredients.