Veganism is a practice in which people forgo the consumption of any animal-based products. In recent years a lot of people have started converting into vegans.
Therefore, they are conscious in their ways and abstain from consuming animal flesh, wearing animal fur or skin, drinking milk derived from animals, or consuming any animal product in any form.
Food researchers and scientists have tried to mimic the properties of animal-based meat and make an alternate product that resembles it. This product is known as plant-based meat, vegan meat, faux meat, or meat analogs.
In this article, we are going to tell you about vegan meat and how it is made.
How is Vegan Meat Made?
Vegan meat is made from a variety of different materials such as soybean, wheat gluten, peas, and mung beans. Vegan meat is similar to animal-based meat in terms of flavor, texture, or appearance.
There are two ways to produce vegan meat:
- Extrusion Technology
During the extrusion process, plants go through thermal and mechanical stresses by heating the barrel and shearing the screws. This alters the protein structure that leads to the formation of soluble and or insoluble aggregates.
Altering the process conditions during the high-moisture extrusion processing helps in gaining a wide variety of final products.
To produce a more fibrous structure and meat-like texture, wet texturization has emerged using twin-screw extrusion in a series of chemical and physical processes.
The extruded mass goes through several treatments where it is chilled, unified, textured, and molded into strips, patties, or other forms.
- Shear Cell Technology
A high-temperature conical shear cell helps in achieving a shear-induced structure formation of protein mixtures. The sample material is placed in the shearing zone between two cylinders that are placed at an appropriate distance from each other. Steam helps in heating both the cylinders and they are cooled by air or water.
This simple and cost-effective technology helps in the production of large and fibrous meat analogs.
Ingredients – What Goes Into Vegan Meat?
Pulse flour derived from yellow and green peas, mung beans, lentils, chickpea, and fava contains 55-60% protein.
- Root Vegetables, Cereals and Oilseed
Leafy vegetables such as broccoli, root vegetables such as carrot and potato, oilseeds such as sunflower seed and pumpkin seed, and grains such as corn proteins are the new sources under development for the production of plant-based meat.
- Seaweed and Algae
The protein content of seaweed ranges from 35 to 50% while the protein content of algae found in freshwater goes up to 70%. The nutritional density and resemblance to seafood flavor help in creating vegan seafood products.
- Water Lentils
Water lentils are derived from the Lemnoideae plant. As compared to soy protein, lentils have an excellent amino acid profile.
Heme is an essential molecule found in all living animals and plants. Plant-based heme is made via fermentation of genetically engineered yeast.
Mycoprotein is derived from the Fusarium venenatum fungus. It is used as a meat substitute for several years. Mushrooms are regarded as the next generation of plant-based meat.
Mycoprotein has a meaty flavor along with a slight savory taste and meat-like texture.
Seitan is processed wheat gluten. It is a great source of protein and has a meat-like dense and chewy texture. It can be fried, grilled, or braised to taste similar to any meat-based dish.
Vegan Meat Derived From Soy Protein Isolate/Soybean Flour
Soy protein has a minimum of 90% protein content. For extracting the protein from soybeans, the seeds are first dehulled. Then they are treated with solvents such as hexane, to remove their oil. The oil-free seeds are then suspended in water and treated with alkali.
This dissolves the protein in the water and the carbohydrates are left behind. The alkaline solution is treated with acidic substances so that the protein precipitates before being washed and dried.
The removal of fats and carbohydrates gives the product a neutral flavor.
Soy protein contains all the essential amino acids and is considered a ‘complete protein’.
How Popular Vegan Food Companies Make Meat?
The Impossible Meat
The primary ingredients of Impossible Food’s plant-based meat are soy and potato protein for the texture, coconut, and sunflower oil as fat sources, natural flavors, and soy leghemoglobin for flavoring and color.
To make the plant-based meat appear red just like animal meat, Impossible Foods make use of an iron-containing compound called leghemoglobin derived from the roots of legumes, such as soy.
Coconut oil is used to mimic the texture and juiciness of animal protein.
The primary ingredients in Beyond meat’s plant-based meat are pea, rice, and mung bean protein for the texture, coconut, and canola oil as fat sources, beet extract for the color, and natural flavors.
To replicate the colour of animal protein, Beyond meat uses beat extract that gives a similar kind of red colouring to their plant-based meat.
Is Vegan Meat Healthy?
- Increased Sodium Content
Plant-based meat contains high amounts of sodium. Consuming too much salt can increase blood pressure and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
- Calorie Content
The calorie content of plant-based meat is almost similar to animal meat. However, some vegan meat can have low-calorie content as compared to animal meat.
- Risk of diseases
The World Health Organisation named red meat and processed meat a group 2 and group 1 carcinogen, meaning that they cause cancer in human beings. Thus, In terms of cancer prevention, plant-based meat is a good alternative to animal meat.
Red meat could also increase the risk of heart diseases more than plant-based foods.
Vegan meat also does not contain any dietary cholesterol which typically exists in animal meat.
Vegan meat is safe for the environment as its production requires less land, less water and it leaves a low carbon footprint.
In terms of health benefits, fast food is still fast food whether it is made from plant-based meat or animal meat. You cannot expect a vegan meat burger to be as healthy as a bowl of salad. Plant-based meat is processed food. Although it is safer than animal protein as it reduces the risk of deadly diseases such as cancer.
Following a vegan diet may be hard but it is the need of the hour to become sustainable in every way.
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