Plant-Based Meat alternatives may look similar to real meat, but scientists say that the nutritional components may not be the same. Researchers at Duke University compared 36 food samples, 18 of widely known Plant-Based Meat alternatives, to 18 grass-fed ground beef options from a ranch in Idaho. The study published in the journal Scientific ReportsThey measured the number of metabolites, small molecules that make up the nutrients in foods. Researchers discovered the beef contained 22 metabolites that the plant-based substitutes did not have. The Plant-Based Meat, meanwhile, contained 31 metabolites that meat did not include.
Researchers found the largest disparities were in vitamins, amino acids and types of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids found in both food products among other variables. Alternative meat makers mimic the look, taste and texture of meat with iron-carrying molecules from soy among other ingredients like beets and berries and ramp up the protein with soy, peas and other plant-based ingredients. Additionally, some alternative meat products contain vitamins such as B12 to create a similar nutritional profile to real meat.
Stephan van Vliet, a postdoctoral researcher at the Duke Molecular Physiology said that these nutrients are important for our brain and other organs including our muscles. Some people on vegan diets can live healthy lives that are very clear. Consumers should know real meat and alternative meat products are not nutritionally interchangeable.