plant-based sausage review

Doubt and deception have surrounded the true contents of meat sausages for years so it is no wonder sausages earned the nicknames ‘mystery bags and snags’.

Does a similar cloud of deception hang over plant-based meat-free sausages that have advanced into the butchery and freezer spaces at supermarkets?

Picture of meat-free sausages on BBQ with the question - is there a snag

Quickly look at the names of some meat-free sausages and you’d have to say yes. Why call a meat-free sausage chick’n, roasted chicken, beefy, beef style, or use fine-print to reveal the hot dog is plant-based. Are these words included in the names of plant-based sausages to confuse or deceive shoppers?

Clever names aside, how do plant-based meat-free sausages shape up? Are they healthier for you? What amount makes up a serve?

plant-based sausage review

I reviewed the nutrition profile and ingredients of 20 plant-based meat-free sausages and here is what I found.

Less salty but not low salt. The plant-based sausages I reviewed are all less salty than traditional meat sausages but they are still very salty. They are not low salt. If you are on a low salt diet for a medical condition such as high blood pressure or Meniere’s disease, all sausages are unsuitable for you. The sodium content of the plant-based sausages reviewed ranges from 135 to 500 mg sodium per sausage. Eat one of the highest salt sausages and you have reached the daily Adequate Intake for sodium in one small serve. Eat four of the higher salt sausages and you have exceeded the total daily max for sodium (upper level). Choose lower salt condiments and sauces to serve with any snag so you don’t overshoot your sodium intake.

Less fatty but here’s a small snag. The majority of plant-based sausages contain less fat than traditional meat sausages but a few contain almost as much fat as regular meat sausages. None of the meat-free sausages are low fat. Unfortunately, some manufacturers are using undesirable oils and fats. If you have a history of heart disease, diabetes or high cholesterol, read the ingredient lists and avoid sausages that list vegetable oil (of unknown origin), coconut oil, canola oil or rapeseed oil.

Variable protein. When you replace meat with plant-rich substitutes, it is important to consider the protein value. Protein is nature’s appetite suppressant. If you only eat vegetables, salad and rice at a meal without any substantial protein source (plant or animal), hunger will reappear earlier than usual. A low protein meal will not satisfy hunger for very long. The protein content of plant-based sausages ranges from a too low 1.5 g per sausage through to a substantial 15 g per sausage. A larger looking sausage is no guarantee of more protein. Aim for a serve that delivers 8 g or more of protein. See the table below.

More or less the same amount of fibre. Because plant-based sausages are made with plants, it is fair to assume and expect plant-based sausages would consistently have a higher fibre content than meat sausages but that is wrong. Some meat-free sausages contain about the same amount of fibre as meat sausages (1.3 g or less per sausage). A few others are brilliant with almost 30% of your daily fibre needs in a single sausage. A good source of fibre delivers at least 4 g of fibre per serve. I have highlighted the good fibre sources in the table (charted Jan 2021).

Missing nutrients. When you switch from meats to plant-based proteins, your intake of iron, zinc and vitamin B12 will fall. This not an issue providing you are careful to choose other foods rich in these nutrients at some stage in the day. One brand of plant-based sausage contains added vitamin B12, Zn and iron; the majority don’t.

Lengthy ingredient lists. If you suspect meat sausages are filled with mystery ingredients, wait until you read the ingredient lists of some plant-based meat-free sausages. They are definitely not always natural or simple foods free from preservatives, additives and extracted processed ingredients: preservative (234, 223), maltodextrin, smoke flavour, E341, soya protein concentrate, and TVP (textured vegetable protein) to mention a few. If these factors matter to you, you are likely to scan the ingredient lists already.

Serve size and kilojoules. When you replace your meat sausage with a similar sized plant-based sausage, there will often be an advantage for your weight. Sausage for sausage, plant-based tend to be lower in kilojoules than meat-based. In other words, don’t serve more just because they are plant-based sausages. You are better to serve more real vegetables, salad and fruit to accompany the snags. For simplicity, count a single long, thick or thin as a serve. If the sausage is small in weight (45 g or less), count 2 as a serve. There are always exceptions to the rule. For some varieties you could share part of another big vegetarian sausage to equal a serve of meat sausage (see table below for specifics) but there would be no advantage for your weight to do that. Check out pages 126, 132 and 157 in "this=that" to see what an average sausage serve is meant to look like. Then turn to pages 145, 152 and 155 to see how a serve of prawns, eggs and legumes compares.

Allergens and food sensitivity. Take extra care if you have coeliac disease, FODMAP issues, and other food intolerance, allergies and sensitivities. Soy, gluten and egg white are common allergen ingredients. Onion, cashew, spices, herbs, natural concentrates, and flavouring and colouring agents appear often. Just because it is ‘plant-based’ doesn’t make it safe for a person with food sensitivities and allergies.


sausages, plant-based or not, are a processed food

Meat sausages should not be a regular feature in anyone’s diet. A higher intake of processed meats is linked to a higher risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer. Processed meats are those that have been cured, salted, smoked or fermented to boost flavour and/or act as a preservative. The risk is higher again when meats are browned over open flames on the BBQ.

There are healthier foods than snags to cook on your BBQ but many people say to me, ‘what’s a barbie without sausages and onion?’. Will plant-based sausages replace the humble snag in your household on Australia Day?

It is possible to choose a plant-based sausage that is a healthier alternative to regular meat sausages and the biggest problem is that all plant-based sausages are still too high in sodium salt content.

Plant-based sausages have no real longterm history in human consumption so it remains unknown whether the methods and agents used to boost flavour, construct a ‘meaty’ texture or create a novel ingredient pose any health problems for us.

I am not a big fan of meat sausages. I do not buy meat sausages, not even the gourmet variety, because I am not keen on their flavour combo of salt and fat. I won’t say no to a snag when served one at a BBQ but you will very rarely find them in my fridge. I’ve tried very few plant-based sausages so I can not comment on taste. Maybe your experiences with plant-based snags will help me choose a few brands to try based on taste?

Have you tried any plant-based sausages? What are your thoughts and experiences with plant-based sausages. On the menu or off? Which ones stood up to the taste test at your place? Join the conversation over at FaceBook.


plant-based meat-free sausages: nutrient profile per sausage* 

plant-based meat-free vegetarian sausages

Weight (g) per sausage

kJ

Protein (g)

Fat (g)

Sat Fat (g)

Carbohydrate (g)

Fibre (g)

Sodium mg

Bean Supreme Sage, Parsley & Rosemary

63

399

9

4

3

5

4

363

Frys Original Hot Dogs

45

309

7

3

0

4

1

346

Frys Traditional Sausages

63

626

11

11

10

3

1

483

Herb & Sons Beef Free Sausages

75

795

11

14

7

3

n/s

422

Linda McCartney’s Red Onion Sausages

45

232

7

1

1

2

1

234

Linda McCartney’s Sausages

45

287

8

3

0

1

2

257

Plant Nation Mixed Herb Vegetable Sausages

75

545

7

6

4

12

3

315

Plant Nation Tomato & Cracked pepper Beef Style Sausages

75

350

12

2

0

2

4

458

Plant Nation Roasted Chicken Style Sausages

75

338

12

2

0

2

4

484

Syndian Cheezy Kale & Cashew Sausages

50

325

2

3

2

10

n/s

136

Syndian Mushroom, Hemp & Sumac Sausgaes

50

346

2

4

2

10

n/s

275

Syndian Spicy Smoked Chipotle Sausages

50

408

2

4

2

12

n/s

154

Syndian Sun-dried Tomato Sausages

50

308

1

3

2

11

n/s

142

The Alternative Meat Co. Plant Based Sausages

58

487

9

7

2

2

2

284

Tofurky Italian Sausages

63

717

15

10

1

6

n/s

306

Unreal Co. Plant Based Beefy Brat Sausages

58

400

7

6

3

3

4

244

Unreal Co. Plant Based Chick’n Chives

58

400

7

6

3

3

5

295

Veggie Delights Herb & Garlic Sausage

50

400

9

5

0

2

3

170

Veggie Delights Thick BBQ Sausages

50

405

10

5

0

3

1

305

Veggie Delights Vegie Sausages

50

437

14

5

0

5

1

240


plant-based sausages: a source of protein or fibre or not?

plant-based meat-free vegetarian sausages

source of protein?

good source of fibre?

To be more specific with serve sizes, use the values below.

For most people, the general guide for vegetarian sausages shown in ‘this=that’ works really well and makes serving decisions easy.

Bean Supreme Sage, Parsley & Rosemary

Y

Y

1⅓ (share the second snag)

Frys Original Hot Dogs

Y

 

2 small

Frys Traditional Sausages

Y

 

1 single

Herb & Sons Beef Free Sausages

Y

 

¾ (not even a whole one)

Linda McCartney’s Red Onion Sausages

Y

 

2 small

Linda McCartney’s Sausages

Y

Y

2 small

Plant Nation Mixed Herb Vegetable Sausages

   

1 single

Plant Nation Tomato & Cracked pepper Beef Style Sausages

Y

Y

1½ (share the second snag)

Plant Nation Roasted Chicken Style Sausages

Y

Y

1½ (share the second snag)

Syndian Cheezy Kale & Cashew Sausages

   

2 small

Syndian Mushroom, Hemp & Sumac Sausgaes

   

1¾ (share the second snag)

Syndian Spicy Smoked Chipotle Sausages

   

1½ (share the 2nd snag)

Syndian Sun-dried Tomato Sausages

   

2 small

The Alternative Meat Co. Plant Based Sausages

Y

 

1¼ (share the second snag)

Tofurky Italian Sausages

Y

 

¾ (not even a whole one)

Unreal Co. Plant Based Beefy Brat Sausages

Y

Y

1½ (share the second snag)

Unreal Co. Plant Based Chick’n Chives

Y

Y

1½ (share the second snag)

Veggie Delights Herb & Garlic Sausage

Y

Y

1½ (share the second snag)

Veggie Delights Thick BBQ Sausages

Y

 

1½ (share the second snag)

Veggie Delights Vegie Sausages

Y

 

1⅓ (share the second snag)


* Sourced from publicly available manufacturers' data and rounded to the nearest whole number. Sourced Jan 2021. Please check product packaging as figures may have changed since this data was collected.

NOTE: I have no affiliation whatsoever with any of the brands, companies or products named in this article or the associated tables. The information and interpretation are purely my own based on nutrition profile data that is publicly available on food labels and at manufacturers’ websites. Information was sourced in January 2021. This is an independent review. It is not sponsored.


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