Future Foods, Volume 5, June 2022,
Plant-based meat substitutes are products used to replace meat in the human diet. These products have developed from traditional whole-grain meat substitutes to products based on an advanced technology called 2nd generation meat substitutes. Increased market visibility of 2nd generation products raised questions about the products´ healthiness once they are classified by NOVA as ultra-processed, are allegedly high in salt and saturated fat, and might not be nutritionally equivalent to meat. To answer those queries, we evaluated the nutritional profile of the 3 generations of products available in the Brazilian market. Products were classified into one of three stages of technology as traditional meat substitutes, 1st generation meat substitutes, or 2nd generation meat substitutes. Their nutritional values, ingredient composition, and nutrient profile were analyzed and compared. Most of the products analyzed (169 in total) were classified as 1st generation meat substitutes (55.6%), while 2nd generation ones represented 16% of products. The 2nd generation of meat substitutes presented a higher amount of protein, sodium, saturated fat, and a greater number of additives than previous generation products. The future generation of meat substitutes should focus on reducing saturated fat content and the use of fewer additives.