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I’ve churned through over 150,000 emails, social media comments and messages, and blog comments in the last 6 years.

And that means I’ve fielded a ton of questions.

As you can imagine, some questions pop up more often than others, and I thought it might be helpful to take a little time every month to choose a few and record and share my answers.

So, in this round, I answer the following question:

  • What are your thoughts on plant-derived meat alternatives?

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, leave a comment below or if you want a faster response, send an email to [email protected].


4:36 – What are plant-based meat alternatives?  

6:05 – What are the health benefits of plant-based meat alternatives? 

13:06 – What is the environmental impact of farming meat versus creating plant-based meat alternatives? 

Mentioned on the Show:

Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hey, Mike Matthews here and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today. Now, as you can imagine, I have fielded a lot of communication and a lot of questions over the years. I’ve easily gone through over 200,000 emails, social media comments and messages and blog comments since I got into the fitness racket back in 2012 and.

Some questions pop up more often than others, and some are very topical. Sometimes they are related to things that a lot of people are talking about, and so I thought it would be helpful to take some time on the podcast now and then and answer I. Questions that people are asking me, ones that I think all of you out there may benefit from or may enjoy as well.

Now, if you are a regular around these parts, you know that I usually answer three questions in the q and a episodes, and I’m happy to keep doing that. But one of the. Most common critiques I get regarding the podcast is that the episodes are always long. All of the episodes, most all of them at least run 30, 45, 60, even 90 minutes depending on what they are.

And so I thought I would try a different format. For the Q and As going forward, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know if you like my idea. If you like what I’m gonna do here. Email me [email protected]. So my idea is simply to take the three questions that I would normally answer in one q and a episode and answer them in individual episodes.

One topic per episode. That means that those episodes will be no more than probably 10 minutes long, and I will just release them more frequently. Let me know what you think of the idea. Do you prefer the old way 30, 45 minutes or so? Three questions per episode. Or do you like my new idea where each question gets its own episode and those episodes are short, easy to listen to, you know, you can get through one if you are going for a walk or driving to the gym or doing some chores or whatever.

Or do you simply not care either way? I. Do either work for you. Uh, email me [email protected]. Alright, so what question am I going to answer today? Well, it is, what are my thoughts on plant derived meat alternatives? Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get.

Into the best shape of their life, faster than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you. We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger. Paint by numbers simple, by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week and month after month.

What’s more we’ve found. That people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shekel, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all that’s giving you the most grief.

Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles, or maybe it’s something. Else and whatever it is. Here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure it out, that’s when everything finally clicks.

That’s when you start making serious progress, and that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to That’s bu y V I p and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we get to know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service.

And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, If you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected]

Well, let’s start with quickly defining what these foods are, just to make sure that we are both thinking of the same thing. Right? So plant-based meat alternatives are basically that, right? These are foods that are designed to mimic the taste and smell and the mouth feel, you know, the texture as well as the nutritional value of meat and of red meat in particular, without containing any.

Animal product whatsoever. 100% plant-based. And you’ve probably heard of some of the big names, uh, big companies like Beyond Meat Impossible Foods. But more and more competitors are popping up like Jack and Annie’s meatless farm, pure Farmland and others. And there’s even now a plant-based alternative to raw tuna called Ahimi.

Now the stuff most. Often used in these plant-based meat alternatives include soy, pea, potato, rice, wheat, and myprotein. And then you have fats like canola, coconut, soybean, and sunflower oil, as well as some other interesting stuff like soy leg hemoglobin, which gives the product an iron like flavor that you find in meat, red colored vegetable.

Extracts to make it look red and make it bleed red and other flavoring agents. Now, the big marketing buttons pushed to sell these products to convince people to use them instead of meat are primarily environmental concerns and human health benefits. So let’s talk about the health benefits first, and if we’re gonna do that, then we have to compare.

How these plant-based meat alternatives match up to meat nutritionally. So let’s talk about protein first. Many of the plant-based meat products use concentrates or isolates, or sometimes a combination of both of soy. P and other plant proteins. Now, research does show that those are good sources of protein, that the body is able to digest them and absorb them about as well as most animal proteins.

That said, for those of us who want to get more jack, We should know that a number of studies have shown that purified plant proteins exhibit a lower anabolic response in muscle compared to animal meat, which of course is not good if you’re trying to gain muscle. Studies also show that plant proteins.

Tend to be low in several essential amino acids, including lysine, methionine, and leucine. And those are am amino acids that we have to get from our diet. And leucine in particular is especially important to us weightlifters US lifestyle bodybuilders because it is the essential amino acid that triggers muscle protein.

Synthesis that triggers muscle building. Now, while it is possible to overcome some of that disadvantage by blending different plant protein sources, that is why, for example, legions, plant plus plant protein is a blend of P and rice protein. Their amino acid profiles are complimentary, and when you combine them, they look a lot like Waze actually.

And theoretically doing that should improve the anabolic response to the protein. No studies yet have determined if it works like that, if by combining a couple of plant protein sources, you can bring the muscle anabolic response up to the level of animal protein. And just as a quick note on that point, a recent study that was published back in December of 2019 found that a couple of different plant.

Protein blends resulted in 30 to 40% lower circulating essential amino acid availability when compared to a leucine matched amount of whey protein. And those blends were pea and pumpkin protein. That was one. And then pea, pumpkin, and sunflower and coconut protein. That was. And then they took the first blend, the P and pumpkin protein, and they hydrolyzed it using some enzymes.

And that was the third blend. And that’s not the final word on the matter. Of course, it’s one study, but it was well designed and well executed. And I, for one, would be interested to see more research like that done with other types of plant protein blends or just single sources like soy protein, for example.

Anyway, let’s move on to the next nutritional point here, which is, B 12. This is an essential vitamin that you have to get from your diet. Your body cannot synthesize it from other stuff, and it’s found predominantly in animal flesh. And there are limited amounts of B 12 in some plant foods like mushrooms and fermented vegetables.

But research shows that the majority of B 12 in plants is biologically. Inactive and may even compete with the transport of biologically active B 12. So that could aggravate a B 12 deficiency or insufficiency if it hasn’t reached the point of a deficiency yet. Now, fortunately, you can supplement with B 12 and prevent an insufficiency or a deficiency in many.

Food scientists who work on plant-based foods know that, and so they fortify those foods with B 12. They’ll put B 12 in cereals, in non-dairy milks, in vegan spreads and vegan meat replacements. I. If though you are not eating enough of those foods, then you’re gonna have to supplement. In addition to that with B 12, it’s gonna be essential for your health.

Two other minerals that deserve our attention here are iron and zinc. Now, both can be obtained very easily from animal products as well as plants, but the iron and zinc from plant sources is far less bioavailable, and this is often because. There are other compounds in plants like phytates, polyphenols, calcium, and others that inhibit our body’s ability to absorb the iron and zinc.

Now, ironically, research shows that if you eat meat as well, As plant-based sources of iron and zinc, this actually increases how much iron and zinc your body can absorb from those plant sources. Now, similar with B 12, it is possible to supplement with zinc and iron to make sure that you get enough of both, and you can do that on a plant-based diet.

That said, research shows that if you do that, if that is how you have to maintain sufficiency. In iron and zinc, that may reduce the absorption of other minerals such as copper, and you may have to address that. You may have to account for that in your meal planning or supplementation regimen as well.

Now I could go on, I could list more nutrients that we are going to struggle to get enough of or just miss out on altogether by substituting our meat for plant-based. Meats like essential am amino acids, creatine in serene or on serene, I’m not sure how to pronounce it. Different sources say different things, and a couple of others, trine, cornine, and in most cases we could say, well, we can get around that by just fortifying the food with the missing nutrient or mineral or whatever.

Or we could just take it in a supplement. And while that may seem like a workable solution, at least on paper, the problem is studies show that often doing that just isn’t as effective as getting the nutrients naturally. If we rely too heavily on supplementation, we can wind up with insufficiencies or deficiencies, despite getting enough, it would appear of the key.

Nutrients. What’s more? Trying to mimic whole food sources by combining several isolated nutrients, likely underestimates the health benefits of eating whole foods. There are often other things in the foods that we haven’t isolated yet that make them more effective than. Just picking out the individual pieces.

To use a cliche, the whole food is often greater than the sum of its apparent part. So as of right now, from a nutritional point of view, I’m of the opinion that plant-based meat alternatives can fit into an omnivorous diet. If you want to eat them now and then, but I would not recommend replacing animal products with them all together.

Okay. Now let’s talk about the environmental side of things. The environmental impact of farming meat versus creating these plant-based meat alternatives. The primary benefit we are told of choosing the plant products is that those have a, or the creation of those has a lower carbon footprint than. The meat that creating those products produces less carbon than producing meat.

That said, the science is unsettled. Research shows that while meat alternatives may have a lower environmental impact when compared to grain fed cows, there are systems that are out there that mitigate the environmental impact of farming, the carbon footprint of farming. And while I’m not an expert in farming, Whatsoever.

The research that I’ve read is more balanced than you might expect. For example, studies show that where lands are allowed to properly recover after a grazing period, the amount of carbon in the soil more than offsets the greenhouse gas emissions of the animals and actually can result in a net negative.

Carbon footprint. What’s more research shows that if livestock spend their lives grooming and fertilizing vegetation in soil, they may help to mitigate any harmful environmental effects, or at least not exacerbate them further. It is certainly worth noting though that not all farming operations are run the ways that I just described.

Not all farming operations do have beneficial or neutral. Effects on the environment, and depending on how they’re run, depending on the management practices, grass fed beef, for example, certainly can have a higher carbon footprint than other systems of farming. Or of course, the creation of plant-based meat alternatives.

So my current position on the environmental discussion around plant-based meat alternatives is that while it’s true that the creation of those products can produce a lot less carbon, that the carbon footprint can be a lot smaller than some farming operations. That’s not always true. When good farming practices are upheld, the environmental impact of raising livestock can be a lot smaller than many people think, and then many plant-based meat marketers would have you believe.

Okay, friends, that’s it for this shorter than usual q and a episode. Thanks again for listening. I hope you liked it. And shoot me an email and let me know what you think of this. Format. Do you like this idea where I do these q and a episodes more frequently and they are one topic each and they are shorter?

Or do you prefer the old format? The usual format where I’m doing one every week or so and they are three questions and three times as long. Anyway, as far as what else I have coming for you, well, tomorrow I have another short q and a where I’m gonna be talking about gaining strength but not size. And then next week I’m gonna be talking about, I have a monologue coming where I’m gonna be talking about the best supplements for women, and I have a q and a where I’m gonna be answering a question about fitness for shift workers, how to make it work.

As well as an interview with one of legion’s newest athletes, Adam fau, who has built a very large social media following, educating people on how to get fitter. He has shared a lot of great information and so I’m really happy to have him on the Legion team and to have him on the podcast, or I should say, have had him on the podcast to talk about his fitness journey and some of the key lessons he has learned over the years.

And that’s not all for next week. I have five episodes coming next week, so I hope you like him. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility and thus it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger.

Healthier and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at [email protected]. Just muscle f o r and share your thoughts.

On how I can do this better. I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.

That is the best way to get ahold of me, [email protected]. And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode. And I hope to hear from you soon.

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