Many people living with chronic kidney disease find it difficult to suddenly adapt to a new way of eating, but the irrefutable fact remains true…diet and disease are linked. The hardest food to give up, for many of the Kidney Disease sufferers adopting a vegetarian diet, seems to be meat. But thanks to advancing food technology, there may be some satisfying alternatives in sight.
Since vegetarian and vegan diets grow in popularity more and more, consumers are more interested in meat substitutes. Some critics are against them but advocates see meat substitutes as a great alternative to benefit both human health and the environment.
Interest in meat substitutes grew around 2001 when there were so many cases of mad cow disease and E coli. Today the interest is so much higher that ordering data from Grubhub, the online food delivery service, has shown that in 2017 orders of vegan food increased by 19% in 2 years.
Initiatives such as Meatless Monday, encourages people to eat less meat during the week and to substitute with vegan meals. Consumers are also ordering meat substitutes in restaurants and buying them in grocery stores. Some popular meat substitute brands are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods which copy the texture
and taste of meat through color, aroma and sizzle. These companies are offering these services not just for vegans but for people who eat meat and sometimes want an alternative.
There are different kinds of meat substitutes. Some products taste and look like meat but don’t have the same nutrition. They are low in protein and high in carbs and fiber. Bean burgers or tofu are richer in nutrients and are a better substitute.
Products that taste like meat are made from many different plant foods like wheat gluten, soy, beans, mushrooms, peas and lentils. Others have nuts, seeds and whole grains and they can come in form of bacon, sausage, burgers, fish, chicken and pulled pork.
Some of the benefits of using meat substitutes are the health benefits typical of other vegetables and lower amount of saturated fat as well as less protein which is ideal for chronic kidney disease sufferers.
Most meat substitutes just need to be heated and not cooked like real meat. Also plant-based diets are hardly processed and they consist of legumes, grains and vegetables. Plant-based meats are not good for everyone, so always mix with a lot of fruits and vegetables to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins you need.
Another fact is that vitamin B12 is only found in animal products so if you don’t eat meat you should supplement with a B12 vitamin. Meat substitutes are also higher in sodium than fresh meat and they contain food allergens like tree nuts, soy and wheat so if you have food allergies read labels very carefully.