Vegan Schnitzel and Co.: Why the meatless alternatives are not healthy

Vegan Schnitzel and Co.: Why the meatless alternatives are not healthy

Vegan alternatives are also becoming increasingly popular among non-vegans. One argument: they are healthier than meat. But is that really true?

Vegan substitute products are trendy. There is almost nothing that does not exist – from vegan schnitzel to doner kebab to liver sausage. Not only are the supermarket shelves filling up more and more with substitute products, fast-food chains and restaurants are also focusing on vegan dishes made from imitation meat.

In the meantime, not all people who use vegan alternatives are necessarily vegans or vegetarians. “Omnivores” (eaters of everything) also incorporate substitute products into their everyday lives. Because many think that they are doing their body a favor.

Sausages made from meat rightly have a bad reputation: too much fat, salt, preservatives and flavor enhancers. In addition, red meat – especially processed meat – has long been suspected of being carcinogenic. You really can’t go wrong with vegan substitutes, can you? Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are those that are made up of many different ingredients and contain additives such as flavorings or preservatives. These include ready-made products, most snacks, soft drinks, sweets, many meat and fish products, as well as ready-made frozen meals and instant products.

Vegan substitutes contain questionable ingredients

Because vegan substitute products are also industrially manufactured products that are not only produced with healthy and natural ingredients. And that also means that the meatless alternatives are not as healthy as industry and advertising make us believe.

Last year, “Öko-Test” tested 18 types of vegan sausages from various manufacturers. Conclusion: Twelve vegan cold cuts failed. Many of the products not only contained high levels of salt, but also questionable additives. According to the Öko-Test, most cold cuts were “more or less heavily contaminated with mineral oil components”.

Mineral oil consists of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH), which can accumulate in human adipose tissue and the liver, and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH), among which carcinogenic substances can be found.

In addition, twelve of the products tested contained the thickening agent carrageenan, which is suspected of causing inflammation in the intestines. The salt content of many products was also of concern. High salt consumption can increase the risk of high blood pressure and related diseases. A WHO report on vegan nutrition from 2021 also criticizes the high salt content in many vegan substitute products.

Vegan nutrition is healthy – if you do it right

But just because these highly processed foods aren’t necessarily healthy doesn’t mean the same is true of vegan diets in general. According to the WHO, a plant-based diet has health benefits and can prevent various diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

However, the World Health Organization advises to largely avoid processed foods even with a vegan diet – so prefer whole grain products and legumes instead of vegan schnitzel, water and tea instead of lemonade or fruit instead of vegan ice cream.

Seitan: The protein-rich meat alternative is made from wheat. (Quelle: a-lesa/Getty Images)

If you want to eat healthy and vegan, you should eat lots of vegetables, nuts and quinoa in addition to legumes and whole grains. Tofu or seitan are suitable as meat substitutes – but you should check beforehand which additives are hidden in the product in question.

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