By Erin Hughes
A report has come out of the George Institute for Global Health in Melbourne this week, stating that many meat alternative products are incredibly high in sodium, fats, and sugars, in order to make them taste better.
Senior public health nutritionist Clare Farrand, who conducted the research, has stated that although Australia’s lean towards more plant-based diets is positive, a lot of the meat substitutes are highly processed and ultimately just not good for you.
In fact pork-free bacon or ‘Fakon,’ was found to have one third of a person’s daily intake of sodium in just 100g’s, just slightly higher than some brands of falafel.
Depending on the brand, it was found that eating these vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives on the daily, could pose a serious risk to the consumers health. With one vegan pie brand found to contain one half of a person’s daily intake of salt in one serving.
What’s most concerning, as Ms Farrand put it is “many of these products do appear to be healthier largely because of the marketing around the products themselves.” This study has brought to light a labelling issue amongst the meat free industry.
Vegan, activist, and friend, Anita Karac-Branezac has said that the report findings are confronting as “you’d hope that these products would have a high nutritional level” to “fill the gaps in a vegan diet.”
Ms Farrand has declared that we “really need to be looking at the information panels on the back of the pack to really understand what’s in these processed foods.”
When asked whether she would check the information panels in the future, Ms Karac-Branezac responded,
“I definitely will be”… “without knowing these things you’d have no clue about the effects they could have on you. It’s a balancing act because these alternatives aren’t as good as they could be, I’ll definitely be checking the ingredients and nutritional levels from now on, or limit them in my diet”
The Heart Foundation, has launched a further study into the risks of these meat alternative, high salt, products, in conjunction with VicHealth. Kellie-Ann Jolly, the foundation’s chief executive, is concerned, as too much salt is linked to high blood pressure which affects over six million Australians.