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The Great Meat Debate: Plant-Based Pretenders Take on the Meaty Titans

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As the popularity of faux meat skyrockets, a groundbreaking study has challenged the plant-based paradigm to reveal some unsettling truths.

Published in the esteemed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a new “gold-standard” randomized control trial (RCT) shatters prevailing notions about the health benefits of plant-based meat analogs (PBMA).

For the first time ever, researchers pitted these trendy substitutes against traditional animal-based meat diet (ABMD) in a head-to-head showdown of cardiometabolic impact in human test subjects.
In an 8-week trial, participants swapped their usual protein sources for either plant-based meat analogs or equivalent servings of animal meats.

And the results were nothing short of astounding…

Meat Substitutes and Metabolic Mayhem

On paper, the macronutrients of the plant-based and omnivorous diets appeared equivalent.

However, lab analysis uncovered significant disparities, with the plant-based options falling short on protein and coming up higher in carbohydrates and sodium than what was stated on the label.

What’s more, the metabolic effects of the diets were very different than what might have been expected. Take a look:

  • No Change in LDL Cholesterol Among Groups: LDL cholesterol, often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, is a key target of plant-based diet proponents. However, in this study, LDL measurements stayed consistent in both the plant and animal protein groups.
  • Worse Glycemic Control in Plant-Based Group: Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) revealed glycemic control took a nosedive in the plant-based meat cohort compared with the animal-based meat diet.
  • Less Time in Optimal Glucose Range in Plant-Based Group: Time spent in the optimal glucose range plummeted in the plant-based group compared with those enjoying real meats.
  • GRADE Increased in Plant-Based Group: GRADE stands for Glycemic Risk Assessment Diabetes Equation. It’s a measure used to assess the risk of diabetes based on several glycemic control parameters, including fasting glucose levels, glycemic variability, and the time spent in the optimal glucose range. This equation provides a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s risk for developing diabetes or experiencing complications associated with poor glycemic control over time. GRADE was “significantly lower” in the animal-based meat group, indicating a reduced risk for diabetes in the meat eaters.
  • Blood Pressure Better in Meat-Eaters: Researchers also noted better 24-hour blood pressure control and healthier nocturnal patterns among meat eaters compared with the plant-based group, citing the higher sodium in the plant-based meat diet group as a potential culprit.1

Meat Wars: Mother Nature Wins Again

The researchers concluded the study with some eye-opening statements about the false promise of plant-based meat alternatives and diets:

We failed to substantiate any clear benefits for PBMD on cardiometabolic health…
Dietary incorporation of PBMAs in particular may influence nutritional intake and potentially compromise glycemic management…

With so many nutritional differences between real meat and fake meat, there’s simply no comparison between the two.

Whether it was the lower protein, missing micronutrients, hidden carbs and sodium lurking within the faux meats – or other man-made ingredients, like leghemoglobin, the substance that makes plant-based burgers “bleed” – this study underscores the importance of choosing foods in Mother Nature’s perfect packaging.2

Animal-Based Meal Ideas for Metabolic Health

So go ahead and dig into juicy grass-fed steaks, golden hued butter, moist and tender chicken and succulent chops – your tastebuds and your ticker will thank you!

Here are a few of my favorite high-protein, animal-based meals to get you started:

Steak Salad with Avocado and Berries


  • 1 grass-fed steak (of your choice, such as ribeye, filet mignon or sirloin)
  • Mixed organic greens (e.g., arugula, romaine, kale)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • Mixed organic berries (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (made with extra virgin olive oil)


  1. Season the steak with salt and pepper, then grill or pan-sear to your desired level of doneness.
  2. While the steak is cooking, prepare the salad greens by washing and drying them thoroughly.
  3. Arrange the salad greens on a plate and top with sliced avocado and mixed berries.
  4. Once the steak is cooked, slice it thinly and place it on top of the salad.
  5. Drizzle the salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and serve immediately.

Savory Carnivore Casserole


  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 pound pastured ground pork
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated raw cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a baking dish with butter or oil and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and ground pork until browned and cooked through, breaking it apart with a spoon as it cooks.
  3. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Season the meat mixture with salt, black pepper, dried thyme, dried rosemary, and dried sage. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour the beef broth and heavy cream into the skillet and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Let the mixture simmer for 5-7 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  6. Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
  7. If using cheese, sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the meat mixture.
  8. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the edges are golden brown.
  9. Once cooked, remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Serve the savory carnivore casserole hot, garnished with fresh herbs if desired.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders


  • 1 pound pastured chicken tenders
  • 8 slices sugar-free bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Toothpicks (for securing)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Season the chicken tenders with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Wrap each chicken tender with a slice of bacon, securing the ends with toothpicks.
  4. Place the wrapped chicken tenders on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
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Explore more healthy and mouthwatering dishes by visiting our US Wellness Meats Discover Blog today! With our thought-provoking content and tantalizing recipes, you’ll never run out of ideas to keep your taste buds happy and your body healthy!


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  1. Toh, D. W. K., Fu, A. S., Mehta, K. A., Lam, N. Y. L., Haldar, S., & Henry, C. J. (2024). Plant-Based Meat Analogues (PBMAs) and Their Effects on Cardiometabolic Health: An 8-Week Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing PBMAs with Their Corresponding Animal-Based Foods. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  2. Lamb, C. (2017). The Impossible Burger: Inside the Strange Science of the Fake Meat That ‘Bleeds.’ WIRED.