Why you should swap meat for meat extenders

Switching to a high-protein vegetarian diet could help you live longer and stay healthier. Internet Photo

What you need to know:

  • Lentils. Lentils are a good source of protein, fibre, iron and folate. According to Amanda Tumwebaze, a nutritionist, their colour and texture is similar to crumbled, cooked ground meat. Lentils, if dried, can also act as a binder to replace eggs or bread crumbs in other recipes.

Meat extenders are usually food items made to mimic meat. Meat extenders boost the flavour, are nutrient dense and budget-friendly. They are usually processed to be consumed as meat for vegetarians or as a cheaper alternative for meat in some countries.

In Uganda however, Bena Okiria, a consultant nutritionist, says “They are not common. These may include soy fry brands, tofu and soy sausages,” she remarks.

Tempeh, tofu and texturised soy protein are processed meat extenders made from soya beans.
They are high in protein, probiotics (live bacteria which are beneficial to the digestive health) and are a source of minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and manganese.

Besides protein, this soya product also contains all the essential amino acids required from food according to Amanda Tumwebaze, a nutritionist. “Tofu can substitute all meats. It is affordable and nutritious, with large amounts of iron, calcium, manganese, selenium and phosphorus. It also has the ability to absorb flavours through spices and marinades, so be liberal with seasoning before cooking it,” Tumwebaze says.

Tempeh is a fermented soya product that is a rich source of probiotics and essential amino acids. “Tempeh has a firmer texture and a slightly nuttier flavour than tofu. It is high in protein, probiotics and is a source of minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and manganese,” says Tumwebaze.

Texturised vegetable protein
Okiria says this is an inexpensive ingredient made from dehydrated soya beans. When making texturised vegetable protein, soya bean oil is removed and protein-rich resultant flour is cooked under pressure and dried to form crumbles such as breadcrumbs. Once hydrated, this meat extender has a similar appearance and texture to ground meat.

It comes in chunks packed in sachets that cost between Shs5,000 and Shs7,000 in supermarkets around Kampala and sometimes listed as TSP or texturised soy protein.

Since production of meat extenders in Uganda is limited and some people may not be able to access soya processed meat extenders, you may have to add these extenders directly to the meat according to Tumwebaze. You can add the extenders to meats such as beef, mutton, turkey and chicken.

Raw chopped mushrooms can be added to meat or chicken to increase B vitamins, selenium and dietary fibre in your diet.

“Mushrooms can also increase your vitamin D content. You can use equal amounts of chopped mushroom to pounded meat or chicken but can sauté the mushrooms to add flavour. This combination will also help you reduce your salt intake,” Okiria remarks.


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