There has been an explosion in vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives in recent years, with varying levels of success. Most of the popular brands in this category have, until this point, been newcomers to the market selling exclusively vegan and vegetarian products, so when Richmond, the leading UK sausage brand, launched their own range of meat-free sausages, eyebrows were certainly raised.
We should never have doubted them, because they taste great. But are these Richmond meat-free sausages actually healthy? Now that's a slightly more complicated question. Let's look at why:
What are the Richmond Meat-Free Sausages made from?
We've reviewed Quorn mince recently, and one of the things we saluted that brand for was their choice to not make products using soy. Now, let's get one thing straight about soy - it isn't the worst thing in the world, and for many vegetarians and vegans, eating soy is a much better decision than eating meat. It's high in protein and is quite nutritionally similar to meat, plus it's generally cheap But there is also plenty of reason to be skeptical of soy and to want to avoid it. Studies have suggested that because soy is rich in isoflavones, it may cause some men health issues such as a lowering in testosterone concentration.
So why mention this? Well, the Richmond Meat-Free Sausages are made with soy. But to be fair, they're in good company here. What The Cluck also uses soy, and we're big fans of their product, so I wouldn't mark Richmond down for that alone.
They're also made with wheat protein - again, this is relevant because wheat contains gluten and the healthiness of gluten has also been called into question throughout recent history.
What is the nutritional breakdown like?
This is where the positives are for us - considering how tasty these sausages are, we think they're remarkably low in calories at only 113 calories per 2 sausages. They're also high in protein which is excellent for those who are trying to build muscle and also stay fuller after a meal.
So overall, we'd say that yes, the Richmond Meat-Free Sausages are pretty healthy. They're made with soy and wheat which makes them unsuitable for many people, but their high protein content and low calorie count makes them great for most people to consume.