Dr Nick Fuller: Three reasons why plant-based food is no better than real meat.

It looks like a burger at first glance. From the packaging to the look, there is no questioning that the fake meat industry has cleverly crafted something that looks like the real thing — a plant-based burger that ‘bleeds’.

They’ve even done all they can to mimic the experience of eating meat itself — everything from the taste, texture, chew and sizzle. And it’s not just limited to the fake-meat hamburgers; there’s also a plethora of other options one can choose, including fishless fillets, chickenless crispy tenders and the “hot dog” that’s not really a hot dog.

The boom of fake meat is well and truly here, and it’s not just vegetarians that are forgoing fillet mignon for fakes, with the products strategically stocked alongside animal products. The benefits of eating less meat have been well established, but are these fake meats a nutritious alternative or just another highway to obesity and heart disease? There are three reasons why they might be doing more harm than good.

1. They are linked to cancer

Most fake meat hamburgers are made using either a pea-based or soy-based protein. To get to what you see on the shelves, many of these products go through a heavy manufacturing process. Specifically, a process known as extrusion, to separate the protein from the fat.

This requires running the food source through a solvent called hexane, which is recognised as a neurotoxin and may have impacts on reproductive health.

Residual levels of these chemicals have been found in some products when tested off the shelf in the US and these have been linked to cancer. All processed foods need to be kept in the occasional basket of no more than once per week.

2. A vegan hotdog is no better for your than a meat one

This goes for the entire fake meat range. They pack just as many calories as the real thing and since they lack that delicious fatty taste that triggers the release of those feel-good chemicals in the brain, the food manufacturer make up for it by adding in a great wallop of salt — a sure way to set yourself up for stroke.

Not to mention the exhaustive list of ingredients that you will see on the food packet with some of them containing more than 50. If you enjoy them, then great, but don’t deny yourself something you love in the name of health, if you’re replacing it with fake meat.

3. You’re not eating more vegetables

Plant-based doesn’t mean you’re swapping out a meat burger for a vegetable. These burgers aren’t made from actual vegetables. If you want to get more vegetables in your diet (and 95% of us need to), add them to real food, don’t opt for something that is processed and coming out of a packet.

Dr Nick Fuller is a leading obesity expert at the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and the founder of Interval Weight Loss.

Article courtesy of the Telegraph.