Vegetarian Faux "Meat" Products: Are They Really Healthy?

Vegetarian Faux "Meat" Products: Are They Really Healthy?

" My advice would be to not "live" off of these products if you are a vegetarian"

I used to be a vegetarian. I was one for 20 years, actually. It was more than a little experiment for me; it was a lifestyle choice. If you told "vegetarian me" that I would eventually start eating chicken, turkey and fish, I would have told you that you were crazy. I eventually did add white meat to my diet just a few years ago. I will get into the details of that on another post. Today, I am going to talk about the faux "meat" products that I ate abundantly when I was a vegetarian. There is faux turkey, faux chicken, faux hot dogs, and even faux bacon. While the appeal of these "meats" to a practicing vegetarian is obvious -- they get to eat "meat" without actually eating an animal -- the question is: how healthy are these faux meats?

I do have to say that these "meats" do taste a whole lot like the real thing. I even fed breaded faux chicken patties several times to my non-vegetarian friends and they did not even know the difference. I remember them usually being a bit pricey, but I was a vegetarian who was used to purchasing only grains, vegetables and fruits, after all. Compared to real, quality meats, the prices of the faux meats are comparable.

Now, on to the real question. Are they healthy? Well, if you look at the list of ingredients, you will see the names of many chemicals on the labels of many of these products. Strike one. They are made usually made with soy, but very processed, altered soy. Strike two. Many of these products also contain lots of sodium, but so do most non-vegetarian food items, so I will not give them a strike for that.

My advice would be to not "live" off of these products if you are a vegetarian, but to only eat them every once in a while for a treat, or when you get a strong craving for a "meat" product. Everything is fine in moderation, but if you are a vegetarian for health reasons, I would not eat a diet that consists of these "meat" products as a staple food.