Plant-based meat in Singapore is becoming an increasing popular option for Singaporeans seeking for alternatives to meat-based products. A recent survey by Blackbox Research suggests that close to four out of five Singaporeans were willing to switch to plant-based alternatives for “at least 10% of their meat consumption” if there was no compromise to the taste and cost. Common reasons for which people switch to plant-based, alternative meat products include health benefits, the environment, and animal welfare.
What Are Plant-Based Meats?
Plant-based meats are meat alternates made from proteins from wheat, soy, pea and other plant-derived proteins. They may take the form of burger patties, nuggets, sausages, etc. They are designed to look, taste and feel similar to real meat.
Is Plant-Based Meat The Same As Mock Meat?
While both are non-meat alternatives, there are substantial differences between the “traditional” mock meats we find in Singapore and modern plant-based meat products. The main differences between the two centre around the types of ingredients used (mock meat is typically made from wheat gluten), the nutritional value (mock meat may have lower value), and taste (mock meats arguably do not taste as similar to real meat).
What Are The Health Benefits Of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives?
There are health benefits of plant-based meat alternatives that arise from the avoidance of consumption of red meats (e.g. beef, pork and mutton), processed meats (e.g. hams, sausages, salami, bacon), and even of poultry .
- Diabetes – Consumption of red meats and poultry (certain parts of chickens such as the thigh, are also considered red meat) has been linked to higher risk of diabetes. This increase in risk is caused by the dietary heme-iron content in these meats. Red meat contains higher amount of myoglobin protein, which in turn contains heme-iron. Heme-iron may accumulate in the pancreas and liver, causing oxidative stress, and may also affect the functionality of the pancreas in secreting insulin.
- Colorectal Cancer – Consumption of red meats and processed meats is “highly correlated” to increased risk of colorectal cancer. Carcinogenic substances may be formed in these meats, depending on how they are cooked and their “doneness” level. These substances include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (which can damage our DNA), heterocyclic aromatic amines (which can cause DNA mutations in our body), and nitrates and nitrites (which may react with other chemicals and change our body’s DNA structure)
- Prostate Cancer – There are studies that suggest a link between high consumption of red and processed meats and prostate cancer risk and mortality.
- Coronary Heart Disease – Studies suggest a link between consumption of red meats and increased mortality from coronary heart disease.
Plant-based meats contain dietary fibres, which may help to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Are There Disadvantages to Plant-Based Meats?
As with most other things, there are pros and cons to plant-based meat products too.
Plant-based meat products may often contain more sodium than their actual meat counterparts. Sodium may increase blood pressure and contribute to increased risk of heart disease (contrary to the benefit of reducing consumption of red meats).
Certain plant-based meat products may also contain gluten. People who are gluten-intolerant should hence be mindful of this when selecting the products.
Is Plant-Based Meat The Healthier Choice?
There are substantial benefits from reduction in consumption of red and processed meats. However, it should also be noted that not all alternative products are created equal, and shoppers should read and understand the nutritional content information of the specific products before using them.
To maximise the benefits of plant-based meats, we should also avoid unhealthy cooking methods such as deep-frying and adding of too much sodium.
Where To Find Plant-Based Meat In Singapore?
There are many food outlets and supermarkets in Singapore where plant-based meat is available. If you are considering buying for home cooking, you can try any of the major supermarkets such as:
Further Reading On Food And Nutrition
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.