Friend or Faux: What You Need to Know About Fake Meats

Vegan Chili Dog       Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

If you want to improve your health, reclaim your naturally balanced weight, increase energy and focus…all of this is possible with a whole food plant-based diet. Whole food being the important factor. This means buying and consuming foods that have five ingredients or less. Yes, you read right. Check your cupboard, your fridge, your desk drawer at work. How do your plant-based food choices stack up?

Choosing a vegan hot dog doesn’t make hot dogs healthy. They never were. It is healthier for the animals, of course. And reportedly healthier for the environment. But fake meat should not be the primary source of protein in a nutritionally sound, plant-based diet.

Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

A healthier goal is to get off the meats and cheeses and eat more plants, for real. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts.

A food product can be labeled vegan, the ingredients all free of animal-derived components and yet be about the unhealthiest thing you could eat. Oreo cookies are a good example of vegan junk food. Oreos are plant-based!

Plant-Based Baked Goods                   Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The common argument for faux meats is that they are a “transitional” food for those new to meat-free eating. After conducting my own personal studies over the course of the past nine years, I have come to the conclusion that they do nothing to ease the transition to a healthy, whole foods diet.


What they actually do is become an obstacle to healthier whole-food protein choices such as beans, legumes and potatoes.  Because they taste so good! And as technology moves on, they just keep tasting better and better. These products are highly processed, high in fat and salt in most cases–manipulating our taste buds with artificially engineered flavors. Consequently, simple natural foods taste dull in comparison.


There are really no shortcuts to better health. There are no super foods. Sustainable health is attained by a lifestyle balance between the foods we eat and the way we treat our bodies and minds every day.


Should we never eat faux meats? Do I sometimes eat them? Absolutely. Most dieticians and nutritionists agree that a ratio of 80% natural, whole foods to 20% “discretionary” foods is a good balance for sustainable health. That’s what I’m shooting for. One day at a time. One meal at a time.


  1. Love this! And agree. It’s about taking the time to honor yourself by cooking and discovering all the yummy ways to eat that don’t involve a giant piece of protein as the star. I have been trying these various proteins both for curiousity and because I still sometimes crave the traditional western plate setup. I try to keep to consuming these foods in moderation though and opt for the legumes, seeds, nuts, beans and veggies.

  2. A thought-provoking post on a subject which I am not particularly experienced in. I have stayed away from faux meat mostly because I don’t care for the “meaty” texture, but every now and then, I do want a burger-like meal and most commercial products are too salty for me. I have vegan friends who are big fans of Beyond Meat and I have enjoyed meals they have created for me using these products. But by and large, I have not thought about this issue and you have given me the chance to do so.

  3. I appreciate your perspective here. Mushrooms are my favorite meat substitute for my homemade vegan Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches. I learned a lot from reviewing a non-vegan’s cookbook that was all about mushrooms. My body does not react well to seitan, so I have stopped making it or using it. I find smoky eggplant strips so much more enjoyable than seitan bacon. The Beyond Sausages are popular in my household, but only 2 out of 4 of us are vegan.

    1. Yeah, I am not much into Seitan and use VWG very sparingly in my own diet. Mushrooms are the thing for me! I actually crave them sometimes 🙂 I’ve never made eggplant strips, but would love to try a recipe!

  4. The fake meat products (particularly Quorn “chicken”) were a compromise in our house to bridge the nonvegans in our house. It did get us to a place where we eat less meat (real or fake).

  5. Fantastic post! I have a question, however.

    What’s your take on tofu and tempeh? Both are made from fermented/processed soybean, and are mainstays of meatless diets in East and Southeast Asia. I’d like to hear your thoughts on them. Thank you very much!

    1. Tempeh and tofu are not in my category of faux meats as they are not lab-engineered to look or taste like meat. They are minimally processed and made from whole foods as close to natural state as possible, so…I do enjoy them both and prepare them for my clients. I have several recipes using these products on my blog 🙂

      1. Appreciate your response! 😁 True on the minimal processing part – no extra chemical steps needed and, in the case of tempeh, just letting Mother Nature do its magic.

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