ASK GRETTIE – How Healthy Is Gardein?

This is my latest column for Chic Vegan

I was recently contacted with a question about Gardein meat substitutes.  The reader (who is currently a meat eater, but trying to eat less) was out at a restaurant called the Yard House and saw that they offered vegetarian meals prepared with Gardein.  This experience prompted her to ask me what my opinion was about Gardein and whether or not it was a better choice nutritionally than eating meat.

Overall I am not a big fan on meat substitutes.  Processed food is processed food whether it is animal based or vegan.  As with most processed foods, Gardein tends to be very high in sodium and can do a number on your blood pressure.

I do see the value of vegan meat substitutes in that I see them as stepping stones for those who can’t envision a life without meat (or as an occasional “treat” for those who are already vegans).  Transitioning to a vegan diet can be difficult for many people who are used to eating the texture of meat at nearly every meal.  In this instance I give the reader the green light to try the Gardein meal as a means to see that it is very possible to eat a vegetarian meal and not miss the meat!

According to the Gardein website, their meat substitutes are made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut®).  For someone who wants to introduce vegetarian meals into their menu plan, some good points about Gardein are that the product is cholesterol free as well as trans and saturated fat free, which is something that meat can never claim to be.  Gardein also provides all of the essential amino acids.

I am glad to know that Gardein tries to use mostly non-gmo (genetically modified) foods.  There have been some studies that indicate gmo soybeans are potentially detrimental to our health.  When asked the question about gmo soybeans, Gardein states, “[W]e only use ‘identity-preserved’ soy protein (which basically means, it helps to ensure us that our soy protein is not genetically modified).”

I do want to re-emphasize that overall I am not a big fan of meat substitutes.  Personally I would love it if each and every one of you strove towards a “whole foods plant based diet.”  Your body will thank you!

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

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18 Comments

Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

18 responses to “ASK GRETTIE – How Healthy Is Gardein?

  1. thanks for the info, grettie :)!! xxoo

  2. Pingback: ASK GRETTIE – How Healthy Is Gardein? | CookingPlanet

  3. Marianne

    Thank you for your article on Gardein. It really makes me feel better when I hear a vegetarian/vegan say they are not big fans of the faux meats…..I have never been a fan either. Thanks.

  4. Whilst I’m not a fan of processed foods, my 4 year old daughter really loves these – and they are a whole lot better for her than chicken nuggets!

  5. Great review.. 🙂 I agree, processed food is processed food!

  6. Hi Grettie, thanks for stopping by my blog as I’m very happy to find yours now! I too am leaning more toward a veggie lifestyle and agree that I cannot get myself to try the meat subs, just doesn’t seem “real” to me as simply enjoying the goodness and freshness of a plant based diet.

  7. Hi Grettie,

    You mentioned in your article that Gardein is cholesterol and saturated fat free, and it seems that you think that is a benefit comparted to natural meats. Grass-fed, organic meats are some fo the best foods for you. They contain conjugated linoleic acids or CLA’s, which every body needs. These CLA’s are the good fats. If we all just ate vegetables and no fats, our bodies would have a hard time functioning. There is a reason why someone with an overtly-low body fat ratio can have reproductive problems, as well as possible depression problems too. The 80’s low-fat fad has been disproven. If you’re interested in reading about it, check out the Weston A. Price website or a book called Nourishing Traditions.

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I respectfully disagree with your statement that “Grass-fed, organic meats are some of the best foods for you.” Animal protein is high in cholesterol which is not optimal for health. Read the works of Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn and Dr. Joel Fuhrman for an in depth explanation of why.

      I agree with you that it is not the goal to have overly low body fat because that can in fact result in reproductive problems, etc. Being vegan does not mean that one needs to have an overly low body fat percentage. I would argue that if a vegan does have an overly low body fat percentage that are NOT consuming enough calories. Vegans can easily ingest enough calories and healthy fats (i.e. nuts, seeds, avocados).

      One of the big problems with the 80s low fat fad was the fact that it was ONLY that…low fat. Just because someone eats low fat it does not mean that they are ingesting the nutrients they should be ingesting. Someone could consume only consume Snackwell cookies and they would be eating lowfat, but they would not be ingesting any of the vitamins and minerals that there body requires for optimal functioning.

      When someone eats a WHOLE-FOOD PLANT-BASED diet with adequate calories, they will have the proper body fat percentage along with health in general.

    • Candice

      Weston Price is the last place I’d go for nutrition advice

  8. charles

    Veggiegrettie,
    You are soooooo right! I have a freind who keeps trying to justify meat the same way i used to before i went to a whole food plant based diet months ago. He claims that as long as the meat is hormone free and grass fed, its okay for you to consume. As my doctor said, that’s fine and dandy but you’re still consuming lots of cholesterol and animal fat.

  9. It’s a bummer that the canola oil used in Gardein products is not GMO free.

  10. Nicole

    What about the soy protein isolate? I think all of the Gardein products use this as a main ingredient. I’ve heard this is not good for you. Is this true?

    • I am not a fan of it and prefer to eat whole foods whenever possible.

      • Muffinbaby

        I have really been enjoying these products, but I am also concerned about the long term effect of soy protein isolate. Could you expand on that?!

      • I have to be honest and say that I haven’t looked into the latest research. I have thyroid issues and hormone issues in general, so I stay away from soy because I don’t feel well when I have it.

        I’d recommend doing some research and making-up your mind in an educated fashion based upon the data you find.

        Best of luck!

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