Plant-based meat substitutes including sausages and meatballs are packed with salt, study shows

Plant-based meat substitutes such as sausages and meatballs are often packed with salt, research shows

  • Plant-based foods often contain too much salt, new study finds
  • More than 75 percent of analyzed products did not meet salt reduction targets
  • Salt significantly higher than meat in five out of six plant-based products, Queen Mary University researchers say


Vegetable sausages, meatballs and other alternatives to meat often contain too much salt, according to research.

Vegan and vegetarian products are seen as a “health halo,” but their salt content violates government guidelines, a study finds.

More than 75 percent of the products analyzed failed to meet the government’s salt reduction targets.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London compared 207 plant-based meat products with 226 meat products.

M&S Food Plant Kitchen No Chicken Kievs had one of the highest salt levels in the study at 1.78g per 100g, with a total salt content of 2.49g

Researchers from Queen Mary University have analyzed how much salt is in vegetarian processed foods

Researchers from Queen Mary University have analyzed how much salt is in vegetarian processed foods

They found that plant-based meats have fewer calories, total and saturated fat, and more fiber than meat equivalents, according to research supported by Action on Salt.

But their salt content was significantly higher than meat in five of the six product categories.

Only two of the plant-based products would be considered low-salt (less than 0.3g salt per 100g), compared to 45 meat products.

Plant-based alternatives include Linda McCartney vegetarian meatballs, M&S vegetable chicken kievs, Quorn Best of British sausages, as well as products from Waitrose, Birds Eye, Co-op, Richmond and the Vegetarian Butcher.

Linda McCartney's vegetarian meatballs were found to contain 1.7g salt per 100g - way above the healthy limit of 0.3g salt per 100g

Linda McCartney’s vegetarian meatballs were found to contain 1.7g salt per 100g – way above the healthy limit of 0.3g salt per 100g

Study co-author Professor Graham MacGregor told the journal Nutrients: ‘Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to lower blood pressure, reduce health inequalities and prevent people from dying unnecessarily.

‘The government has charged the food industry with public health at the expense of the citizen.

“The time has now come to take back control and force the industry to act more responsibly.”

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