The new frontier in meat substitutes: health
Up till now manufacturers of meat substitutes mainly focused on taste and texture. The more their products resembled real meat, the more successful they would be. This will not change. But the new battle ground is health.
It has always been clear that plant-based meat is better for animals planet. And most will agree that its better for the planet. But there has always been some doubt about whether plant-based meat was healthier. Most plant-based meat alternatives are considered highly processed. According to meat lobbyist Will Coggin: “Real burgers and sausages are made from beef, pork and spices. "Fake meat" is an "ultra-processed" imitation of meat with many ingredients such as methyl cellulose, titanium dioxide and disodium inosinate. " This gave fuel to meat industries attempts to criticize their plant-based competition.
But that is going to change. To attract a growing segment of health conscious consumers, manufacturers of plant-based meat will need to work on the nutritional value of their products.
Here is an excellent example: Heura, a Barcelona-based vegan meat startup, has just launched a new burger they call the healthiest on the market. Thanks to its innovative fat analogue that helps transform extra virgin olive oil into a solid form, Heura’s latest plant-based burger is able to provide the sensory experience of meat while drastically reducing the amount of saturated fat and increasing its protein content. It contains 64% less fat compared to traditional beef burgers, 86% less saturated fat than conventional beef, and 11% more protein per calorie.
It transforms extra virgin olive oil, which is healthier and importantly more sustainable than coconut oil, into a solid fat format – a quality that gives the burger the desired texture and juicy bite of real meat without the negative health and environmental impacts.
Heura says that this burger is the first and the only plant-based burger to date made with extra virgin olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat known to help improve blood cholesterol levels. Other key ingredients in the new burger include pea protein and vegetable fibre.
The Barcelona startup’s range of plant-based alternatives, which also includes chicken substitutes, stands out in the fast-growing vegan meat sector for its “clean” label. On average, its products contain 40% fewer ingredients than other alternatives on the market.