I was recently contacted with a question about Gardein meat substitutes. The reader (who is currently a meat eater, but trying to eat less) was out at a restaurant called the Yard House and saw that they offered vegetarian meals prepared with Gardein. This experience prompted her to ask me what my opinion was about Gardein and whether or not it was a better choice nutritionally than eating meat.
Overall I am not a big fan on meat substitutes. Processed food is processed food whether it is animal based or vegan. As with most processed foods, Gardein tends to be very high in sodium and can do a number on your blood pressure.
I do see the value of vegan meat substitutes in that I see them as stepping stones for those who can’t envision a life without meat (or as an occasional “treat” for those who are already vegans). Transitioning to a vegan diet can be difficult for many people who are used to eating the texture of meat at nearly every meal. In this instance I give the reader the green light to try the Gardein meal as a means to see that it is very possible to eat a vegetarian meal and not miss the meat!
According to the Gardein website, their meat substitutes are made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut®). For someone who wants to introduce vegetarian meals into their menu plan, some good points about Gardein are that the product is cholesterol free as well as trans and saturated fat free, which is something that meat can never claim to be. Gardein also provides all of the essential amino acids.
I am glad to know that Gardein tries to use mostly non-gmo (genetically modified) foods. There have been some studies that indicate gmo soybeans are potentially detrimental to our health. When asked the question about gmo soybeans, Gardein states, “[W]e only use ‘identity-preserved’ soy protein (which basically means, it helps to ensure us that our soy protein is not genetically modified).”
I do want to re-emphasize that overall I am not a big fan of meat substitutes. Personally I would love it if each and every one of you strove towards a “whole foods plant based diet.” Your body will thank you!
**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .**
Gretchen Tseng is a Nutrition Specialist with Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. At a young age she experienced a series of illnesses which propelled her to seek nutrition based solutions. Gretchen is absolutely passionate about sharing the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and can be found doing so through her website Veggie Grettie at www.veggiegrettie.com . Gretchen lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and 4 legged best bud. She dreams of living on a farm someday surrounded by animals and the most amazing organic garden she can imagine.