Consumers who value the expression “you are what you eat” should study the ingredient list before purchasing meat substitutes.

A recent educational campaign conducted by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) notes that many plant-based meat products contain a large number of processed ingredients, many of which are not from plants.

So, while meat substitutes offer more meal options for herbivores and curious diners, the belief that plant-based meats are healthier than traditional meats doesn’t pass the sniff test, according to Will Coggin, CCF managing director.

“A lot of people assume plant-based is healthier,” Coggin said. “But it’s sort of a contradiction.

“One of the main reasons many eat plant-based products is to avoid processed food,” he noted. “However, many fake meat products are ultraprocessed.”

Some plant-based meat products contain up to 20 or more ingredients, including magnesium carbonate, propylene glycol and sodium phosphate.

And nutrition labels show no health benefit from eating meat substitutes compared to the real thing, according to Coggin. In fact, some alternative meat products contain higher sodium levels than natural beef.

Visit the website {CleanFoodFacts.com} to learn more about the ingredients in plant-based meat.

“These products are intended to mimic the mouth feel, smell and taste of meat,” Coggin said. “In order to do that, (processors) have to assemble it out of a number of ingredients.”

Surveys show roughly 40% of those who eat plant-based foods try to avoid processed food. The CCF, therefore, saw the recent educational campaign as an opportunity to provide more information to consumers so they can make informed food buying decisions.

“People can make up their own minds at the end of the day if they want more or less processed food,” Coggin said. “Our goal was to educate consumers about these products.”