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The Mystery of Meat Alternatives

Recently, brands like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Omnipork have taken Hong Kong by storm. These meat alternatives have been appearing more and more in restaurant menus and supermarket shelves, as our city is slowly embracing a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. But what exactly are they? What are they made of? And why are these meats worth spending money on, for the betterment of our environment?

Animal agriculture contributes to nearly 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions, as excessive meat consumption can lead to serious concerns regarding animal welfare, human health and constraints on natural resources (Asia Tatler). In fact, “the greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane and rocketship combined” (UN Environment). The livestock industry directly perpetuates deforestation, desertification, water and air pollution and global warming, therefore it is important for us to do our part, to help eliminate waste and promote a sustainable society. A good idea to start off with is by adopting a plant-based diet for 3-4 days a week.

Many meat alternative brands are motivated by a desire to promote social and ethical responsibility through cultural change. They create healthier plant-based substitutes that offer equal protein levels to meat, with no cholesterol, less saturated fat and no antibiotics or hormones (Beyond Meat). Brands are able to replicate the texture, taste and appearance of meats using natural ingredients; this includes coconut, sunflower and canola oil for the chewy texture of meat, and soy, potato, pea, rice and mung bean protein as a source of nutrients.

A number of sustainability reports often refer to plant-based meats as ‘artificial meats’, yet the idea of fake-ness and chemical processing the term connotes completely contradicts the actual composition and health benefits of these products. As of now, most plant-based brands sell alternative chicken, beef and pork as patties or sausages; many are looking to branch out to fish and other types of meat products. Restaurants such as KFC, Cheesecake Factory, Green Common, King of Sheng Jien, Ming Court and Wanchai Ferry Dumplings among others have already incorporated meat alternatives in their food range. So why not venture out of your comfort zone and help our planet through a simple change in your diet!

Image from: Claudia Totir, InsideHook

Written by: Mioie Kwok

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