Can Meat Substitutes Be Part Of A Healthy Diet?

by | Aug 16, 2021

The interest in plant-based diets is here to stay. With that, meat substitutes have soared in popularity over the past several years. You’ve probably tried a few yourself! 

There are differing opinions on the health benefits of these meat substitutes among health and nutrition experts. But as an RD nutrition coach, how can you advise clients wanting to try these as part of their healthy lifestyle? Before we dive into this topic, allow me to introduce myself for those of you who are new around here!

My name is Tony Stephan, and I’m a dietitian business coach. I help RDs make more IMPACT and more INCOME through nutrition coaching. Before becoming a dietitian business coach, I was a dietitian nutrition coach. I served thousands of nutrition coaching clients over a time span of 12 years. My successful nutrition coaching business is what led me to where I am today. Now, let’s discuss meat substitutes and if they can be part of you or your clients’ healthy lifestyle!

Brief Background On Meat Substitutes 

Over the past several years, the restaurant industry has begun to really embrace meat substitutes and alternatives. But it has become much larger than that as more and more Americans purchase meat substitutes from grocery stores, too! 

According to Barclays, massive growth of up to $140 BILLION is anticipated in the alternative meat department over the next decade. 

Types of Meat Substitutes

There are many different products to choose from. This can range from alternative fish and chicken products to substitute burger patties, ground beef, and jerky! Two of the more popular companies producing meat substitutes these days include Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods

Many of these substitute products look and taste like meat, but their ingredients consist of things like soy, wheat, gluten, beans, lentils, peas, and mushrooms. Although they taste like the meat product they are mimicking, they do not always have the same nutritional value.


Meat alternatives may encourage more variety in one’s diet. These foods don’t contain animal-sourced saturated fats that increase one’s risk for heart disease. They can be another way for pickier eaters to try new flavors and cuisines!

Also, replacing some or all of your animal protein intake with meat substitutes may positively impact the environment. (A much more complicated topic that I’m not qualified to thoroughly discuss!) 

Potential Disadvantages

On the other hand, meat alternatives can be quite costly depending on which product you buy. These foods may be higher in sodium. While they don’t contain animal-sourced saturated fats, they often contain plenty of saturated fats from coconut oil.

Meat alternatives may also be difficult to incorporate for people with common food allergies because they often contain ingredients like soy and wheat. This is just another thing to keep in mind when considering meat substitutes for yourself or your clients!

The Takeaway

In short, yes — meat substitutes can be part of a healthy diet. It’s important to remember that no single food or type of food will totally ruin your diet. We’ve got to look at the bigger picture and the overall patterns of eating. If your client eats a lot of highly processed foods or dines out often, consuming meat alternatives on a frequent basis may not be best for them. If your client simply wants to reduce their red meat intake and use meat alternatives as one tool to do so, meat alternatives can be very useful! As always, be sure to consider your client’s needs, preferences, and values (environmental impact, animal welfare, etc.) to provide the best recommendations! 

So, do you have follow up questions about meat substitutes as part of you or your clients’ healthy lifestyle? Send me an email at and let me know. Seriously, I want to hear from you! 

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