Healthy and environmentally friendly: regional meat substitutes made from fruits and vegetables
More and more people in Germany are reducing their meat consumption or doing without it altogether. Instead, many of them use meat substitutes, such as those made from tofu, seitan, quorn or wheat gluten. Such products could also be made from local fruits and vegetables. This protects the environment and has health benefits.
Those who eat less or no meat at all not only do good for the environment and animal welfare, but also for their own health. You don't have to do without the taste. "Anyone who has made the decision to live meat-free or with less meat will find a wide range of meat substitutes in supermarkets and online shops, which should make the change in diet and everyday life easier," writes the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE). In the future, such products could also be made from domestic food waste.
Meat substitute from regional residues from beverage and food production
More and more people in Germany are restricting their meat consumption. Like Dr. Susanne Wiese-Willmaring, consultant for food at the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) explains in a message that the supermarket range is growing with vegetarian or vegan replacement products.
However, this is not entirely unproblematic: Many of these products are made from soy, for which the rainforest is cleared, according to the expert, and which can trigger allergies in some people. Especially people who live vegan, there may also be a lack of special vitamins, which are not or only in small quantities in the replacement products.
In a project at Hamm-Lippstadt University in North Rhine-Westphalia, a meat substitute is now to be made from regional residues from beverage and food production such as apple, onion and carrot remains.
According to the information, it should contain the necessary vitamins and be able to compete with animal products in terms of taste, nutritional values, texture and "mouthfeel". The DBU supports the project technically and financially.
High meat consumption harms health
"The production and consumption of animal products are viewed increasingly critically, especially from a sustainability perspective," says project manager Prof. Dr. Thomas Kirner. In addition, excessive consumption, especially of meat, poses health risks.
Scientific studies have shown that the high consumption of red meat and meat products made from it is associated, among other things, with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
And recently, researchers from the United States published a study in the specialist journal "JAMA Internal Medicine" that showed that life expectancy is already reduced by eating meat twice a week.
New awareness of the consumption of animal products
As stated in the DBU message, a new awareness of the consumption of animal products can now be observed in Germany.
According to current figures from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, six percent of Germans are vegetarians or vegans - and the trend is rising. In addition, many people reduce their meat consumption.
This trend was also recognized by various food manufacturers who have brought vegan or vegetarian substitute products from the niche to the mass market.
“The selection is now very large. But many of these foods are made from soy, for which rainforest is cleared and crop protection products used in the growing countries. In addition, they do not contain any vitamin B12, because that is only found in animal products, ”says Wiese-Willmaring.
It is true that rainforests are cut down for the production of soybeans, but according to the environmental protection organization WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) “80 percent of the coveted beans are processed into grist, which then ends up in animal troughs as animal feed.”
And the animal protection and animal rights organization Albert Schweitzer Foundation explains: “Most manufacturers of soy products for the German market pay attention to the most sustainable, GMO-free cultivation. They therefore source their soy from EU countries, some also from North America and China. In this way, no rainforest is endangered for their products. ”
According to Wiese-Willmaring, B12 plays an important role in many processes in the human body and must be included in vegan diets via supplements such as tablets. Many people are also undersupplied with vitamin D because food can only be ingested from animal foods, such as certain types of fish.
Protein and vitamin-rich vegan biomass
Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences is now working in cooperation with Quh-Lab Food Safety (Siegen) and Oltmer Food Consulting (Edewecht) on a meat alternative that is produced regionally and is said to contain the vitamins mentioned.
“We plan to ferment fruit and vegetable residues, for example from juice production, with the help of certain mushrooms. With ultraviolet light, a natural substance contained in the mushrooms is converted to vitamin D2, ”explains Kirner.
"In addition, microorganisms naturally enrich the product with B12, making the addition of artificial vitamins superfluous," says the project manager.
This creates a protein and vitamin-rich vegan biomass that can be processed into meat substitutes.
Supply of essential vitamins with a purely plant-based diet
According to the information, this method has already been successfully tested in the laboratory. In this project, implementation on a production scale is now planned, initially in a so-called fermenter with a capacity of 40 to 50 liters.
The challenge was to develop a uniform process despite the different requirements regarding temperature or oxygen content of the fungi and bacteria involved. According to the announcement, in addition to an environmental balance sheet, the project should achieve stable and cost-effective production in a 500-liter fermenter and the potential for further scaling should be assessed.
“This procedure makes it easier to ensure the supply of essential vitamins with a purely plant-based diet. By using regionally occurring residues from the beverage and food production, these can be made usable, long transport routes avoided and the rural area upgraded, ”says DBU General Secretary Alexander Bonde. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU): Protein-rich, regional, vitamin-rich: meat substitutes from fruits and vegetables, (accessed: February 15, 2020), Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU)
- Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE): Meat replacement products, (accessed: February 15, 2020), Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE)
- Victor W. Zhong, Linda Van Horn, Philip Greenland, et al .: Associations of Processed Meat, Unprocessed Red Meat, Poultry, or Fish Intake With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality; in: JAMA Internal Medicine, (published: 03.02.2020), JAMA Internal Medicine
- WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature): Soybeans - demand is increasing, (accessed: February 17, 2020), WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature)
- Albert Schweitzer Foundation: Why soy sausage does not harm the rainforest (accessed: February 17, 2020), Albert Schweitzer Foundation