How I nearly died due to the consumption of Meat Free Alternatives

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My Beef with the Vegetarian Food Segment right now has a lot to do with how vegetarian foods are being marketed. They are marketed as being ethical and healthy yet the companies hide the truth of what is really in the foods and how over processed these foods really are.

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 2 years now and my health has never been better. Over the last month, I made a critical mistake of buying into ‘Meat Alternatives’ such as Meat-free burger patties, Meat-free sausages and fake bacon.

Particularly over the last month, I was consuming Meat-free burger patties and Chicken-Style Burger patties about 2 – 3 times a week. Friday last week I had an onset of heart palpitations and dizziness while I was at work. I made my way home Friday evening and went to bed. I’m young and fairly healthy with no history of heart problems so this was unusual for me.

Saturday I took it easy and drank a lot of water, but did have a Meat-free burger patty on an English muffin for breakfast. Sunday night I took a turn for the worse and had contacted the Nurses hotline with the symptoms I was having. I was advised to go to the hospital immediately. It was late and I decided to get checked in the morning by a doctor.

Monday morning my local Medical Centre performed an ECG and advised to go to the hospital. 30 minutes later I checked in to the local hospital Emergency Ward. My blood pressure was taken multiple times, I had blood taken and I provided a urine sample. A line test was performed which measures heart rate. I remained on this for the following 2.5 hours and then was sent home with a mobile heart monitor for the following 2 days.

It was only that night when deciding what to eat, where I had Textured Soy Protein-based Chicken Nuggets in my hands about to cook them, that I decided to Google if Textured Soy Protein could make you sick. I was shocked at what I had found. It had described a lot of the symptoms that I was having.

I immediately threw out all Textured Soy Protein-based foods and started checking all foods before consuming them. Over the following 3 – 4 days, I had returned back to normal and my heart palpitations had resided.

The problem with 99% of Meat-free alternatives is that they are based on Textured Soy Protein, and may contain defatted soy flour. To manufacture Textured Soy Protein and defatted soy flour, it all needs to go through a Hydrolysis process. This process causes natural occurring glutamate ions which are identical in make up to the Glutamate ions found in Monosodium glutamate or MSG.

The fact remains that there is NO chemical difference between naturally occurring glutamate ions and the glutamate ions present in MSG. Therefore are treated exactly the same by our bodies.

MSG ingestion at dietary levels can cause headaches, nausea, heart palpitations, sweating, chest pains and flushing.

If you are wondering what the Hydrolysis process looks like, it’s produced by boiling foods such as soy, corn, or wheat in hydrochloric acid and then neutralizing the solution with sodium hydroxide. The acid breaks down the protein in vegetables into their component amino acids.

What had nearly killed me was the naturally occurring Monosodium glutamate or MSG contained in Meat-free alternatives.

Even though HVP may contain 10 to 30 per cent MSG, products that contain HVP do not have to be labelled as containing MSG. Product labels have to identify MSG as an ingredient only when it is directly added to food. It does not have to be identified as an ingredient when it is a byproduct of another process.

If you are sensitive to MSG you should avoid anything with the word “hydrolyzed” in it. It’s an established headache trigger. Some MSG-intolerant people can develop MSG symptom complex. Besides headaches, its symptoms can include a rapid heart rate, nausea, chest pain and facial pressure or tightness.

The very products that I was consuming over the last month that lead me to an onset of heart palpitations are below. Since then I have stopped consuming manufactured vegetarian foods and now eat whole grain, natural vegetarian foods. I believe being a vegetarian is safe and viable but it needs to be done right.

Note: Textured Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein also known as HVP is not limited to any particular brand, this is something that is industry wide and standard practice in the manufacture of HVP.

The point of me writing this article is to cause awareness of the drawbacks of HVP and Textured Soy Protein style of foods. Also, I don’t want other people going through what I did.

Textured Soy Protein MSG

Ingredients of Frys Family Meat Free Mince

Vegetable proteins (20 %) [Soya · Wheat (Gluten)] · Flavourings · Starch · Modified starch · Vegetable oil (Sunflower seed) · Spices (7 %) (Sulphites) · Wheat flour · Wheat fibre · Thickener (Cellulose) · Sea salt · Onion · Mustard · Colour: Caramel · Gravy powder (2,6 %): Modified starch · Sugar · Salt · Cereal · Hydrolysed vegetable protein · Flavourings · Colour: Caramel.

Ingredients of Frys Family Traditional Burgers

Vegetable protein (16%) (contains Soya · Wheat) · Vegetable oil (Sunflower seed) · Potato starch · Maize Starch · Wheat fibre · Flavourings · Wheat flour (Gluten) · Spices (Contains: Sulphites) · Sea salt · Thickener (Cellulose extract) · Onion  ·  Mustard Powder · Natural Colour (Caramel IV).

Ingredients of Vegie Delights Crispy Chicken-Style Burgers

Water, Vegetable Protein (21%) (SoyWheat), Oil (Sunflower, Canola), Crumb [Wheat Flour, Salt, Flavour, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Maize), Dehydrated Vegetables, Sugar, Yeast, Yeast Extract, Canola Oil, Wheat Gluten, Herb, Spice, Herb Extracts, Spice Extracts, Maltodextrin (Maize)], Oats, Flavours, Seasoning (Contains Wheat, Soy), Starch (Tapioca, Potato), Citrus Fibre, Yeast Extract, Sugar, Salt, Citric Acid, Minerals (Zinc, Iron), Vitamin (B12).

13. Do any of the Vegie Delights products contain MSG?
No, absolutely no MSG is added to any Vegie Delights products.

What about Naturally occurring MSG through the Hydrolysis process?

Crispy Chicken-Style Burgers


Author’s Bio
Dan S is an IT Professional of 22 years, but has worked with a range of businesses giving him in-depth understanding of many different industries. Dan S is a business owner but shares his knowledge and experience through posts like these.


I'm a product researcher at Product Reviewer. I help fellow Aussie consumers make better buying decisions.

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