The Germans eat less meat: in 2012 it was 61 kilograms of meat products per person, in 2012 it was only 52 kilograms. One of the lowest levels since reunification. The focus is more and more on vegan products, the production of which has increased exponentially in recent years. But how good are the vegan alternatives actually – and are they really the better choice?

You should be aware that tofu sausages and schnitzel made from seitan and burger patties made from peas or other vegetable substances are not fresh goods. The products are highly processed foods and for that you need additives: emulsifiers, colorings, flavor enhancers, preservatives and also thickeners. Many of them are harmless, but with some you should sit up and take notice, as “Utopia” explains.

The thickening agent carrageenan (E407), for example, is obtained from the carbohydrates of red algae, according to “Utopia”. Manufacturers use it for the production of cream, pudding and other dairy products. In 2018, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set a maximum carrageenan dose of 75 mg/kg body weight. Because carrageenan is suspected of triggering intestinal diseases and allergies. There are harmless alternatives such as locust bean gum, pectin or guar gum.

The additive konjac (E452) is also problematic. It is obtained from the root of the so-called devil’s tongue and used as a filler, gelling and thickening agent. It is worrying that konjac is not absorbed by the body and can thus block the absorption of important nutrients. In children, the thickening agent can cause suffocation because it gets stuck in the throat. Konjac is therefore banned in jelly confectionery in the EU.

The bottom line is: keep your eyes open. Always check the ingredients list. Fortunately, there are enough products whose additives are harmless and, in case of doubt – from an ecological point of view – are still the better choice.