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Are plant-based vegan meat substitutes unhealthy?

Is meat substitute unhealthy? Why vegetarian and vegan substitutes are not always healthy

Is vegan meat substitute unhealthy? If you're looking for a clear answer to this question, you've come to the right place! Meat substitutes are plant-based foods that imitate meat products such as schnitzel, steaks or sausages in terms of taste, nutritional value, look and feel without being made from animal meat. They help, for example, with Change from meat eater to vegan or vegetarian - and eliminating the disadvantages of animal meat products.

But are meat substitute products really healthy? After all, you often hear that "vegan meat alternatives aren't any healthier". In this article, I would therefore like to explain everything you need to know about the health aspects of plant-based meat substitutes. Let's go!

Questionable ÖKO-TEST study portrays meat substitutes as questionable and unhealthy

Vegan chicken substitute from Likemeat

An investigation by the consumer magazine ÖKO-TESTwhich was published in the June 2016 issue, resulted in the viral headline "ÖKO-TEST warns against meat substitutes". However, the reasoning behind this finding is highly questionable.

Criticized are especially the high fat content, the salt content and the seasoning, the inconspicuous labeling, detected mineral oil residues, the contribution to rainforest deforestation, the use of genetically modified soy and selected additives.₁ I will comment briefly on each of these.

High fat and salt content

ÖKO-TEST noted that substitute products often were lower in fat and in some cases similarly high in fatlike meat products. This speaks in favor of the substitute products. In some of them more than 2 grams of salt which is why they have been classified as a health risk. However, meat and cheese products generally contain considerably more than 2 grams of salt.

Unobtrusive labeling

This is not a question of health, but of design aspects that affect the packaging. The words "vegetarian" and "vegan" were simply too small for the consumer magazine, meaning that consumers could "accidentally" choose plant-based alternatives from time to time. This aspect of the test speaks more to the bias of those responsible for the study.

Rainforest clearing

ÖKO-TEST also justified the warning against meat substitutes by stating that Rainforest cut down for soy products will. However, the main driver of rainforest clearing is the Cultivation of soy as animal feed for the production of meat products. However, soy products that we consume directly in Germany generally come from EU countries. Apart from that, this is not an aspect that is suitable for a direct health assessment of meat substitutes.

Mineral oil residues

The test result leads to the assumption that the mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOSH) found in some substitute products are exclusively a problem of vegan meat alternatives. But as the residues result from the packaging materialthey have also been detected in animal-based grilled sausages and other foods.₂


The vegetable colorants and thickeners contained in many substitute products were also criticized in the test results. However, the following are more of a health concern Additives in meat productssuch as nitrite and glutamate.

Gene Soy

The magazine also found genetic soy contamination in some of the vegan-vegetarian substitute products examined. These are due to the fact that so much genetically modified soy is produced nowadays that lower levels of contamination are basically unavoidable during cultivation, transportation and storage. Ultimately, it is not so much the producers of substitute products who are responsible for this, but rather the producers of genetically modified soy for the production of animal food from the Factory farming responsible.

Consumption of animal meat much more harmful to health

Warning about ingredients of concern is important! In the study of ÖKO-TEST However, is simply ignores the core product to be compared, which the vegan meat substitute is supposed to replace: real meat from animals. Subsequently, it is of course very easy to portray the critical properties of plant-based meat alternatives as unhealthy and questionable.

The consumption of animal meat is indeed questionable in terms of all aspects considered. For this reason, a warning should be issued against meat products. The World Health Organization (WHO) in particular has been warning for years that the consumption of red and processed meat products promotes the formation of cancer cells.₃

Why plant-based meat substitutes are generally healthier than meat

Why is meat substitute healthier than meat?

Manufacturers are not automatically "good people" just because they produce animal-free food. Yes, even vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes such as soy schnitzel or pea protein-based gyros are processed foods that often contain artificial additives and can be high in salt, fat and calories. Lots of subjunctive. It is therefore not possible to make a blanket statement that meat substitutes are unhealthy.

However, it is clear and unequivocal that meat substitutes are generally healthier than "real" meat. Foods of animal origin are also processed products that are even richer in unhealthy fats, salts and additives. They can also contain mineral oil as well as antibiotic, faecal and urine residues.

Nevertheless means vegan not automatically healthywhich is why, as a consumer, you should always take a close look at the list of ingredients for each product. A balanced, plant-based diet is ultimately one of the most important building blocks of a healthy diet. healthy lifestyle.

For the sake of health (the environment and the animals): Better vegan meat substitute, than meat

Vegan meat alternatives are definitely healthier than meat

More and more people are stopping eating meat. Not because they don't like the taste, but because they have lost their appetite for ethical, ecological or health reasons. Plant-based meat substitute eliminates the disadvantages of animal meat products - and still allows us to enjoy the taste of meat we love. It allows us to live healthier lives - and ultimately promotes the health of our planet, countless animals and other people.

Enjoying substitute products with caution and in moderation is harmless to health - and definitely healthier than eating meat. The desire for the taste of meat is an addiction or habit that is fortunately particularly easy to overcome in plant-based cuisine and replace with new habits. Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Then I look forward to your comment!

Stay healthy,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: How to manage, live vegan or basically Eat less meat? The linked articles will now give you valuable tips. Good luck with the implementation!

₁ Carina Rehberg: Meat substitutes are healthier than meat (as of 28.04.2022), available at [18.05.2022].

₂ German Bundestag: Mineral oils in food that are hazardous to health, printed matter 18/12250 of 05.05.2017, available at [18.05.2022].

₃ WHO (2015): Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat, available at [18.05.2022].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

1 thought on “Ist Fleischersatz ungesund? Warum vegetarische und vegane Ersatzprodukte nicht immer gesund sind”

  1. As my father always said to me: "the dose makes the poison". That's true in the vast majority of cases 😉 Thank you for your contribution, Christoph: I'm very happy to recommend it to our fans and followers.

    Best regards,

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