News 8 On Call: Is plant-based meat good for you? The answer not so black and white


MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – People are gobbling up vegetarian burgers. The latest processed imitation tastes, looks and bleeds like beef.

Dr. Devika Umashanker, with Hartford HealthCare says, “I think the concept of it is to help people have healthier eating habits by having an element or product that doesn’t have high saturated fat, high trans fat, high sodium because these are the elements that you may see in meat products.”

Dr. Umashanker specializes in obesity medicine and nutrition.

She says, “processed food that is an imitation form to meat, is it a good option? Sure to vegetarians who don’t like to have meat.”

Is it a healthy option for people who consume meat regularly?

Dr. Umashaker answers, “is it a healthy choice for someone that consumes meat at a regular basis, looking for an alternative? The answer is yes. It may not be the healthiest option out there. I do think that it’s an alternative option because when we look at meat, we do see they have high trans fat, high saturated fat.”

Why is a plant-based meat product not the healthiest option?

“Processed form,” she explains. “They can have different type of additives to make the structure taste the same way as the meat. But every company uses their own different additives. Anything not made in its purest form is not good for the body. So anything that is processed is not good for the body.”

What should people consider who are on a plant-based diet?

“Plant-based diets have, many studies have shown when someone follows it, people have less cardiac disease, less diabetes, lose weight. But that’s in it’s purest form. When you take its purest form and change it to a processed form, you’re not going to get the same benefits,” says Dr. Umashanker.

The bottom line?

She says, “is the plant-based patty better than the meat patty. The answer is – it’s a good alternative. You have to be careful if you think that it’s the only option, the best option to go, because it’s processed.”

Dr. Umashanker says too much processed foods can lead to weight gain and that can cause health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Moderation is key.

Have a health question? Send it to news 8 on call at

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