UK Channel 4 viewers were left stunned after watching an episode of Supermarkets Unwrapped: The Vegan Aisle, which delved into the intriguing world of vegan sausages. One particular aspect that caught viewers’ attention was the casing of vegan sausages, which bears resemblance to that of traditional meat sausages.
With the rise in popularity of plant-based and flexitarian diets, the demand for vegan sausages has been steadily increasing. This has sparked curiosity regarding the manufacturing process and the casing used. Most vegan / vegetarian sausage casings are comprised of a combination of water, vegetable glycerin, sugars, and starches. These ingredients work together to give the sausages their structure and shape.
The filling of vegan sausages is a blend of various ingredients, including chickpeas, lentils, tofu, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, beets, pea protein, as well as an assortment of herbs and spices. These components come together to create the flavourful and textured interior of the sausages.
The recent controversy surrounding the Channel 4 episode revolved around the sausage casing and the use of calcium chloride in the manufacturing process. Calcium chloride is employed to create a gelatinous coating around the sausages, providing a barrier and enhancing their visual appeal. It’s worth noting that the inclusion of calcium chloride in vegan sausage casings is not a universally adopted practice and can vary between manufacturers.
Interestingly, amidst the buzz generated by the controversy, it is worth reflecting on the fact that many consumers are often unaware of how traditional sausage casings are made. To shed light on this matter, you can watch this informative video that explains the process.
Commercial vegan sausages are a type of processed food that may not be considered the healthiest option. While they typically have lower levels of saturated fat compared to meat sausages, they often contain high levels of salt. If you’re looking for vegan sausages, it’s advisable to choose options that are low in salt. Additionally, baking or grilling the sausages without using oil is a healthier alternative to frying them.
On the other hand consuming meat sausages can pose certain health risks. Here are some potential concerns to be aware of:
- High in saturated fats: Meat sausages, especially processed ones, tend to be high in saturated fats. Diets rich in saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and can contribute to high cholesterol levels.
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases: The high fat and sodium content in meat sausages can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Potential for foodborne illnesses: Sausages, if not handled or cooked properly, can be a source of foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria. Thoroughly cooking sausages and practicing good food safety measures is important to reduce the risk of infections.
- Cancer risk: Some studies suggest a potential link between the consumption of processed meats, including sausages, and an increased risk of certain types of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. The presence of nitrates and nitrites in processed sausages may play a role in this.
- Weight gain and obesity: Meat sausages are often high in calories and can contribute to weight gain and obesity if consumed in excess. Being overweight or obese is associated with various health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues.