Plant-based meat alternatives are a growing trend at fast food restaurants, but is this the way of the future? The Alaska Vegan Society says it's a step in the right direction.

"These plant-based substitutes for meat aren't the healthiest choice for us personally," said Delisa Renideo, President of the Alaska Vegan Society. "Certainly healthier for the animals. Certainly healthier for our environment, but not so healthy for ourselves."

According to Women's Health Magazine, Beyond Meat and another popular meat alternative, the Impossible Burger, are on par with beef nutritionally. They contain a similar fat content and calorie ratio. 

But, Renideo says, they taste an awful lot like meat. 

"So much so that many actual vegans don't want to eat them," Renideo said, adding that she herself chooses to eat a wholefoods, plant-based diet.

"I began changing my diet for health reasons," Renideo said. "In my 20s I was extremely unhealthy. I had inflammation spreading through my body. I decided I needed to help myself and so I began looking at my diet." 

According to Oxford Academic's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the health benefits of a wholefoods vegan diet include lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. However, a vegan diet may not provide sufficient amounts of vitamins B12 and D, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids.

For her part, Renideo teaches local and online cooking classes to help anyone interested in a vegan diet learn how to balance their nutrition. 

"And make it so delicious that they wouldn't even look at meat," Renideo said.

The Alaska Vegan Society is hosting its sixth annual VegFest on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Alaska Pacific University. This year's theme is "The Power of Food: What We Eat Matters."

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