Young people are more aware of the harmful consequences of eating (a lot of) meat compared to previous generations. More and more they are removing it from their menu. Do you want to eat even less meat? Nutrition expert Iris Groenenberg provides tips and warns: “Make sure you substitute meat correctly and not ‘easy’ to leave it out of your diet.”
Nutrition expert Iris Groenenberg
Meat is rich in nutrients
Meat contains many nutrients, such as protein, iron and vitamin B12. Your body has them necessary to function properly: for energy production, for cell division and for building bones and muscles.
That’s why Iris Groenenberg, nutrition and health expert at the Nutrition Center, warns young people who decide to eat less or no meat at all: “Make sure you substitute it properly and don’t ‘just’ leave it out of your diet.” According to the nutrition expert, you can also get protein and iron from other products. “Eggs, legumes, unsalted nuts, tofu and tempeh are good substitutes for meat.”
What are legumes?
- Brown, white and black beans
- soya beans
Meat substitutes don’t always replace nutrients
In addition, there are more and more ready-made meat substitutes on supermarket shelves: veggie burgers, slices, frikadellen, bratwurst, pieces of ‘bacon’ and ‘chicken’. According to Groenenberg, they don’t necessarily do what their name suggests. “It may look like meat, but it doesn’t always replace nutrients. Many ready-made meat substitutes contain insufficient protein and no or too little added iron and vitamin B12.”
According to the nutrition expert, these products often contain a lot of salt and too much salt is not good for the kidneys. He advises to always check the ingredients on the label.
Unlike meat, there is no natural substitute for fish. “Fish has shown health benefits – it’s good for the heart and blood vessels,” says Groenenberg. Anyone who cuts meat, but eats fish, recommends eating fish (fatty) once a week. Mackerel, herring, sardines or salmon for example.
These are natural meat substitutes
- unsalted nuts
Symptoms of a deficiency
Suppose you are not replacing the meat correctly and you accumulate a lack of protein or iron, how do you notice? Groenenberg: “Since most healthy people eat far more protein than the recommended daily amount, a protein deficiency is rare.”
An iron deficiency, on the other hand, can be lurking. “The symptoms are dizziness, fatigue and paleness. Especially women who have (a lot) menstruation should pay attention to this, because they are more at risk of iron deficiency.”
Vitamin B12 is also in dairy products
In addition to protein and iron, there is vitamin B12 in the flesh. This vitamin is necessary, among other things, for the production of red blood cells and the proper functioning of the nervous system. “It is not only found in meat, but also in other animal products such as dairy products,” says Groenenberg.
If you eat eggs and enough dairy products like cheese and yogurt, you get vitamin B12, according to the nutrition expert.
In summary: you can replace meat with products rich in protein and iron. Think beans, legumes, unsalted nuts, eggs, tofu, and tempeh. Fish, on the other hand, cannot be substituted one-on-one.