Healthy alternatives to processed meat

Healthy Alternatives to Processed Meat

There’s been a buzz about processed meat recently – the world health organization has published an official report that eating processed meat can lead to cancer, especially of the colon, increasing your risk by up to 18%. It’s now been put up there with things like pesticides and smoking as a top health risk.

Processed meat has gone through processes such as salting, curing, fermentation and smoking and had additives such as sodium nitrite and fillers added to preserve it and make it tastier, turning it into a different animal altogether. The study has in fact found too that red meat in general isn’t really the best bet for your long term health and longevity.

If you’re not a meat eater, this may be neither here nor there, or perhaps you may feel little relieved! But for those of you who are relying on processed meat as a way to get your protein intake, you may be feeling a little at a loss as to how to go about reducing or eliminating the convenience of processed meat from your diet. So what are the options?

Organic Meat

If you feel you would like to continue eating animal protein, it would make sense to cut out processed meats and source a supplier who sells ethical, organic and free range meats that haven’t been fed hormones and chemical-laden feed and that have been raised in a humane way.

The next step would be to prepare it yourself at home – whether you choose to make your own sausage or grill a chicken breast you can use to make chicken mayo sandwiches, preparing your own meat and choosing meat that hasn’t been pumped with hormones and chemicals is the safest way to go.

You can also consider eating fish as an option. In that case, you may want to look into buying fish that has been sustainably and responsibly caught and is not on the endangered list – you can take a look at the list from the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Shellfish such as mussels are also something you could consider. There has been concern about certain fish such as tuna containing high levels of mercury, so don’t overdo it. Be a conscious meat consumer.

Veggie & Vegan

You could also opt to minimise meat or skip it altogether, though if you do, phase it out gradually and responsibly so as not to shock your body and make sure you eat enough protein-rich veggies, or animal foods such as cheese and eggs if you’re not going vegan.



A wonderful alternative to meat dishes, Artisan Grains Mediterranean Sundried Tomato Nut Roast is tasty and good for you and your family. This roast is packed with protein-rich nuts and brimming with the flavour of Italian herbs and tomato.

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To give you an idea – chicken has about 25g protein per 100g serving. By creating dishes with various combos of these foods you should be getting a good dose of protein.

Protein per 100g:

Seitan 75g (gluten)
Quinoa 14g
Pumpkin seeds 29g
Lentils 26g
Hemp Seed 23g
Peanut Butter 25g
Almonds 21g
Hummus – 8g
Chickpeas 19g
Kale 4.3g
Sunflower Seeds 21g
Eggs 13g
Cottage Cheese 11g
Greek Yogurt 10g
Tofu 8g
Tempeh 19g
Broccoli 2.8g
Avocado 2g
Broccoli 2.8g
Walnuts 15g
Macadamia nuts 7g
Mung beans 7g
Adzuki beans 7g
Eggplant 1g
Mushrooms 3.3g

(Thanks to:

Of course the idea with processed meats is that they are convenient, so you would want to find ways to eat these foods that are simple.

You can use a lot of these foods to make spreads and patties to pop on your sandwiches or put in your wraps.You can add some crushed nut and seeds or seaweed flakes to up the protein profile.


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• Nut and seed butters and cheeses
• Hummus
• Eggplant baba ganoush


• Chickpea, lentil, seitan, tofu patties and sausages
• Roasted or fried mushrooms and eggplant steaks
• Marinated tofu or tempeh slices

Umami (that meaty taste you crave)

You can recreate that meaty umami taste that makes processed meat so moreish by using umami-rich ingredients such as:

• Anchovies
Soya or tamari sauce
Seaweed flakes
• Green peas
•Dried mushrooms (blitz in blender and add)
• Balsamic vinegar
• Toasted nuts and seeds (roasting things ups umami in most foods)
• Tomato paste/sundried tomatoes/tomato sauce
Cumin seeds
Indian black salt

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