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What are plant-based meat alternatives?
Plant-based meat alternatives are products available in the grocery store that mimic the texture and flavour of meat. These plant-based meat alternatives are included in the Portfolio Diet as most of them contain soy or legumes as the main ingredient.
Aim to eat whole foods and home-cooked meals more often as many plant-based meat alternative products can be high in salt and saturated fat. The benefit of meat alternatives is that they can be a great transitional and introductory food for plant-based eating. Meat alternatives can also be good choices for when you have limited time to cook and for special occasions.
Buying and Using Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
- These products are available at most grocery stores in the produce, cooler, and freezer sections. Some grocery stores have a section dedicated to meat and dairy alternatives.
- Some easily available brands that fit with the Portfolio Diet include Yves, Gardein, Tofurky, President’s Choice, Lightlife, Boca, and Sweet Earth.
- These vegetarian products are often used to replace commonly used meat products: veggie hot dogs, veggie burgers, veggie deli slices, veggies ground, chick’n strips, meatballs, etc.
Pay Attention to the Label
- Look for products that have soy or legumes as the main ingredient. Wheat gluten is often used, but it does not have cholesterol-lowering properties compared to soy and legumes. A product with soy and wheat gluten together can still meet the Portfolio recommendations.
- Look for plant-based meat alternatives that are not made with oils with a high saturated fat content (e.g. coconut oil).*
- It is important to be mindful of the saturated fat and sodium content of plant-based meat alternatives, as they are sometimes high in these nutrients. See below for more information on reading labels.
*Look for products that use Portfolio approved oils such as olive, canola, soybean, and safflower oil. Click here to learn more about Portfolio approved oils.
Portfolio Diet Plant Protein Servings & Points
Aim for 50 g plant protein each day, which can include tofu, tempeh, legumes, edamame, soymilk, green peas, and plant-based meat alternatives. Click here to see the Plant Protein resource for more general information.
Approximately one serving of a plant-based meat alternative (e.g. 1 veggie burger) equals one portfolio point (10g), but check the nutrition labels for protein content.
*Aim for 5 plant protein points each day from a variety of sources.
How To Read the Nutrition Facts Label
- Read the ingredient list to see what the product is made out of:
- Check to see that soy or legumes are one of the first ingredients
- Look for products that use Portfolio approved oils (click here to see Oils (MUFAs) tip sheet)
- If wheat gluten is listed, make sure soy or legumes are listed with it
- Read the label to check the % Daily Value:
- 5% is a little and 15% is a lot
- Aim for ‘a little’ of saturated fat and sodium
- Aim for ‘a lot’ of protein
- Click here to learn more about label reading
Disclaimer: Other plant-based meat alternatives may be available that fall within the guidelines of the Portfolio Diet. It is important to read the label and remember that product ingredients can change (the products listed above were checked in June 2020). We have received funding and/or food donations from Loblaws Companies Ltd, Whitewave Foods/DanoneWave, Hain-Celestial for current and past research.