What is vegan chicken actually made of? Here's what you need to know | Totally Vegan Buzz

What is vegan chicken actually made of? Here’s what you need to know

Popular vegan fried chicken shop opens second site in London
Image: Really Happy Chicken

Let’s take a closer look at what’s really on your plate.

Plant-based diets continue to gain popularity, as do vegan alternatives to traditional meat dishes. While you can easily get anything from beefless burgers to fishless fillets, vegan chicken has become one of the most sought-after alternatives.

This big-hitter in the sphere of plant-based meats has seen a particular spike of interest in the foodservice industry with sales growing 38% in the last year.

But what exactly constitutes vegan chicken, and does it live up to all the hype surrounding it? Especially as many non-vegetarians take the product with an extra pinch of salt (a nod to the objection that vegan meats are seemingly loaded with salt)

In this article, we will delve into the composition of vegan chicken and discuss whether it fulfils the expectations set by the buzz.

What is vegan chicken made of?

At its core, vegan chicken is made from plant-based ingredients that aim to replicate the taste and texture of real chicken.

The most popular base ingredients found in top brands include seitan and soya. Other ingredients gaining popularity include pea protein, jackfruit, tofu, cooked wheat, and mycoprotein (derived from fungi).

In addition, brands add seasoning, yeast extract, plant oils, and thickening agents like carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed to enhance taste and texture. Some are also fortified with vitamins such as B12 and iron.

Is vegan chicken comparable to real chicken?

While the nutritional information for vegan chicken products varies by brand, most tend to be lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories compared to traditional chicken. Many plant-based chicken products are also excellent sources of fibre and plant-based protein. But, it’s important to scour the ingredients on product labels as some vegan chicken alternatives may contain hidden sugars or high levels of sodium. For instance, Beyond Meat chicken strips has 450 milligrams of salt in just an 80-gram serving.

Are vegan chicken products worth trying?

Yes! Vegan chicken is worth trying especially since it can be a healthier substitute for animal products, as several studies have shown meat to cause obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart complications.

In addition, the production of plant-based proteins, including vegan chicken alternatives, contributes less to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water usage than traditional animal agriculture.

Furthermore, plant-based alternatives reduce the need for factory-farmed animals, enhancing animal welfare.

However, it is important to note that vegan chicken alternatives can be pricier than regular chicken, which could be a barrier for some consumers.

Which vegan chicken products are the most popular?

With the influx of vegan chicken options on the market, you can choose from nuggets, patties, cutlets, roasts, and more.

Several brands are now offering plant-based alternatives to chicken as veganism gains mainstream acceptance. Some of them include:

Vegan Fried Chick*n (VFC)

This UK-based brand is one of the most popular ones that makes crispy vegan chicken products from seitan rolled in a crispy cornflake coating for a crunchy finish that’s just like its animal-based counterpart.

Beyond Meat

Known for its realistic texture, Beyond Meat offers plant-based chicken tenders made from a blend of fava bean and pea proteins.

Gardein

It offers a variety of plant-based chicken products, including nuggets, tenders, and even breaded Turk’y cutlets.

Quorn

While not all Quorn products are vegan, their Meatless and Soy-Free Chik’n Cutlets are a plant-based option made from mycoprotein.

Tofurky

This company is not only famed for its Thanksgiving roast, but it also offers plant-based chicken products, such as deli slices, tempeh, and slow-roasted chick’n.

Vegan chicken alternatives offer a unique, plant-based option for those looking to make more environmentally friendly and cruelty-free food choices. While there may be some drawbacks, such as differences in taste and cost, the growing number of brands and products ensures that there is likely a vegan chicken alternative out there for everyone.

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