What is vegan meat, what are the substitutes made of, and where do I stand on it all?

Today’s Bites #5, episode 47 of the A Gutsy Girl podcast came after I took my monthly grocery shopping trip to Trader Joe’s. While there, I posted an Instagram Story from a row of “food” that I would never buy.

It was the Vegan meat row, and included things like the “soy burger, Impossible burger, Beyond meat, beef-less burgers,” etc.

After I shared the story, as expected, a ton of messages came in. Most of them were some form of this,

Why would you never buy those things?

The best way for sharing in a succinct way was to create this brand new, AGG Bites #5 episode.

Setting the Fake Meats Stage

When I was a Freshman in college, I had this girl who lived in a solo dorm room right next to me. We became fast friends, spending all our time together. She amazed me because of how much she new about alternative foods.

She introduced me for the first time to new products including soy milk and the magical carob.

We smoked our American Spirits together, and I thought she held the answers to perfect health.

If you know my full story, which is Episode 1 of the A Gutsy Girl podcast, you know the major downward spiral of my journey began that year, my Freshman year of college.

And no, I’m not blaming it on soy, plant products, carob or even the American Spirits. Instead, I’m wanting to point out this story as my first real go with believing that lower calorie and a Vegan alternative food would make things better. 

Because that was the truth. She didn’t eat meat products, and I saw her as nothing short of a class act, so I thought I’d adopt some of her ways, too.

That was over 20 years ago

….and I still see this trend happening – Vegan products and faux meat getting the glow, being seen as a great option and the honorable choice, superior in nature to the real thing.

These ideas have even moved into the mainstream supermarket and local grocery stores. It is now commonplace.

Now, before I continue on, I want to make something very clear — this is NOT a conversation around whether or not you should be Vegan, consuming no animal products.

I literally do not care nor do I judge what anyone chooses to eat or not eat.

It’s not my place to dictate eating habits, and quite frankly it’s not yours either. 

When a staunch Vegan comes after me and says how wrong it is that I choose animal protein vs. vegetarian meat alternatives or that I’m an awful human being for talking about this, my only response is…….

I am all about YOU healing your gut. If YOU are eating all the Vegan meat substitutes and healing, then this is what I want for you. My only point is that, chances are, if you are following me for any reason it’s because you are not healed. And if you are not healed and a staunch Vegan eating processed Vegan foods, then hear me out.

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What is Vegan Meat {and what are the substitutes made of?}

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What is Vegan Meat {and what are the substitutes made of} agutsygirl.com #veganmeat #fakemeat


  1. Wild Pastures; 20% off every box for life {HERE}
  2. The Science Focus article
  3. Impossible Foods (what’s in the burger?)
  4. What’s in the fake meat product for chicken nuggets? (ex. Morningstar Farms)
  5. Ingredients vs Ingredient(s)
  6. Best Place to Buy Grass-Fed Beef Online

Don’t Miss These Thoughts

  1. Whole foods ingredients vs ingredient(s) – why it’s my #1 reason for skipping the alternative protein sector
  2. Delicious way to eat Vegan without consuming the mainstream processed burgers
  3. What’s in these alternative protein sources?
  4. Do I eat meat today? Did I when I was healing? Why or why not?
Ep47 What is Vegan Meat {and what are the substitutes made of} agutsygirl.com #fakemeat #veganproducts

Gluten-Free Diet

If you are needing to follow a gluten-free diet, you also need to be sure to read all ingredients in Vegan meat products. The reason? Well, remember – gluten is a protein. Therefore, in order to replace the protein (aka real meat) to obtain the meaty texture something has to be added.

In many cases, at least one of the ingredients is vital wheat gluten.

Take for instance the Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon. Vital Wheat Gluten is the second ingredient listed. And honestly? It’s not even the only ingredient which contains gluten. Also make note of the soy sauce (soy sauce contains gluten; Tamari does not) and wheat, other common ingredients found in meatless meat.

There are also other ingredients listed that may also contain gluten (i.e. caramel color and even sometimes buckwheat depending on how it’s processed – buckwheat, however, is naturally gluten free).

The point?

Alternative meats typically require far more ingredients vs. ingredient(s) investigation.

And if you are trying to keep track of everything in that handy-dandy gut healing journal, this will be far more complicated.

Meat Industry

One question I’m frequently asked is, “Do I eat meat now and did I when I was healing my gut?”

And here’s the truth — 

“Real” meat was exclusively chosen during my gut healing phase. This is because there is only one ingredient in it (usually), and things like 100% grass-fed beef provided the B12 and essential amino acids I needed.

Grass-fed beef is low-FODMAP and fits on almost every single protocol except those which don’t believe in the use of meat for healing.

I do believe in meat for healing.

And when I was healing, I ate it daily. However, even when I was healing, I longed to be on a Vegetarian diet, but it did not work for me.

I tried time and time again only to fail over and over.

Today, now that I’m healed, I do eat far less meat, and the meat I do consume is always the highest quality I can find.

The bulk of our meat comes from 2 places:

  1. A local, organic meat farm
  2. Wild Pastures, which is Grass Fed & Pasture Raised Meat For The Lowest Prices – it’s via delivery – and 100% of the meat is raised on pasture by family farmers in the USA using regenerative farming practices. The beef is 100% grass fed and finished, the chicken is pasture-raised and seafood is wild-caught. And it tastes incredible! You may even remember when I had one of the founders, Autumn Smith, on the podcast episode 27: Healing Paleo Diet.

If part of your goal is to avoid processed foods, then go back and listen to episode 45 for a refresher on these. And then, I cannot stress enough the importance of avoiding the meat substitutions.

To reference Science Focus again,

Vegan ‘meats’ fall into the newly recognised category of ‘ultra-processed’ food, which has been linked to the very same health perils of eating red meat and fried food. The fibrous skins and the crunchy pith of vegetables that our gut microbes so love is scraped away long before a lump of fake meat plops onto the production line.

Like that plant-based burger – i.e. the 6-ingredient one I talk about on today’s show (listed out below). This “plant-based” option is much different than the Vegan meat substitutions. Though the terms could both point to the same product, they aren’t the same in what that final product consists of. 

True gut healing and inflammation reduction in general means the simpler, the better.

And if you’re still on the gut healing struggle bus, justifying that Vegan meat substitution, consider the things we’ve chatted about today.

Somewhere in the Middle

Okay, so let’s say you are convinced to give up the mock meats, but you’re still not on board with meat consumption.

This is fair.

The solution is to either make your own or find one that’s ultra simple and simply Vegan by nature.

For example, a bean burger that contains these 6 ingredients:

  • black beans
  • quinoa
  • onion
  • flaxseed
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

See how much easier that would be to track?

They are also whole food ingredients. You know what all 6 are. And, despite the fact that many gut healing experts might tell you, “heck no” to things like beans, quinoa, and flaxseed, I’m not fully on board with that and I am sure as heck not fully on board with it for everyone.

I believe there are so many benefits to eating different varieties of food, the number one of course for increased microbiome diversity.

There is a Paragraph from Science Focus that I think sums it up best:

Vegan burgers fall well outside this ideal: a congealed disc of refined pea protein, emulsifiers, oils and lab-made starches, pepped up with sugar, flavourings and a lot of salt is about as close to a vegetable as a space hopper is to a spaceship. Imitation meats are among the most highly processed foods to ever grace our tables, effectively neutralising many of the health benefits a greenery-filled diet should bring.

Final Thoughts

Remember, you do what you need to do.

There will never be a time when the argument between meat eaters and Vegans isn’t heated. And no matter what, you’re going to find a study in favor of each.

But the good news is that only you get to decide if veggie burgers made compliments of Beyond Burger, a plant-based burger custom for you and by you at home, or a real meat burger is right for you.

You get to listen to your body.

Remember, start with this one, simple question — How is this working for me?

And go from there.

If you liked this bite-sized A Gutsy Girl podcast episode, share it! I’m super grateful if you do, and truly grateful you joined today.

More from A Gutsy Girl

Want to learn even more about the gut and ways to heal it? Learn all the secrets via my signature book, A Gutsy Girl’s Bible: a 21-day approach to healing the gut. Grab your copy on Amazon HERE.

Or, have this book at your fingertips instantly by downloading the PDF now.

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Wrap Up

Time to wrap this up. As always, a huge goal for this show is to connect with even more people. Feel free to send an email to our team at podcast@agutsygirl.com. We want to hear questions, comments, show ideas, etc.

Did you enjoy this episode? Please drop a comment below or leave a review on Apple Podcasts.

If you’re looking to finally get started on your gut healing journey, Gut Healing for Beginners is now open!

If you liked this episode, you might also enjoy:

  1. Can you heal your gut on a vegan diet?
  2. Root Vegetable Vegan Buddha Bowl
  3. Best Organic Low-FODMAP Vegan Protein Powder
What is Vegan meat subsitution agutsygirl.com #wellnesspodcast #eatrealfood


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