As the rise of plant-based diets continue around the world, the demand for meat substitutes with better quality also increases. While there are some brands who are already stepping up their game, one name seems to stand out more: QUORN.
I’m pretty sure the brand is popular for a reason, but just how worthy is it?
Is Quorn good for you? What is it really made of? Does it contain ingredients you should avoid?
If you have more questions than these, you are not alone. So before you stock up your shelves with this meat substitute, read this first!
What Is Quorn?
From its launch in 1985, Quorn is now one of the world’s most popular meat substitute, or “fake meat”. With its global sales increasing every year, it is set to become a billion-dollar business soon.
Sold as a high-protein, high-fiber, and low-fat meat substitute, Quorn aims to “make better protein for you and the planet”.
Quorn’s success also seems to prove how the demand for protein will increase with the inevitable growth of the population. Especially with the continuous fitness trends, protein is now more in-demand than ever. Meat substitutes can also be the answer to:
- Enjoying meat taste without worrying about the usual health issues that come with regular meat consumption.
- Creating sustainable food sources that do not require animal slaughter.
- Getting high quality protein without all the fats and cholesterol.
The brand also prides itself in the use of mycoprotein. This high quality protein is said to leave a carbon footprint that’s 90% less than that of livestock use. They also have a wide product range, from plain ones to tasty varieties with spices and flavors.
Owler estimates Quorn Foods to have a yearly revenue of $345M, beating all other competitors by miles. That’s not even the peak yet! Quorn’s annual turnover is bound to get even higher as the number of vegetarians and vegans also increase every year.
Initially under Marlow Foods in 1985, Quorn Foods was eventually bought by Monde Nissin Corporation in 2015.
What Is Quorn Made Of?
Meat substitutes are often known to come from plant sources like soy, but that’s not always the case. Quorn is made of many ingredients. While it varies from one product to another, there are a few common ingredients.
- Mycoprotein – the main ingredient in all quorn products. This protein source makes Quorn a realistic meat substitute
- Barley malt extract – for flavor and texture
- Egg – binder (in vegetarian products)
- Sugar – flavor
- Calcium acetate – stabilizer
- Calcium chloride – firming agent
- Calcium carbonate – for food coloring or as a preservative; source of calcium
- Potato protein – for additional protein
- Wheat gluten – contains protein, helps to create fiber-like texture
- Carrageenan – from seaweeds; thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier
- Pea fiber – source of dietary fiber
- Sodium alginate – thickener and emulsifier
- Canola or sunflower oil – for flavor and texture
- Maltodextrin – a form of sugar; thickener or preservative
- Methylcellulose – binder, thickener, emulsifier
- Yeast – for fermentation; also to boost taste
- Salt – for taste
- Rice flour – extender
- Ammonium bicarbonate – leavening
- Xanthan gum – thickening agent
- Chili flakes
As you can see, Quorn uses eggs in a lot of their products. Although the brand is known as a meat substitute, most of their products are only vegetarian, with a few vegan ones. Here’s a complete product list from their website:
Quorn has over a hundred different products out in the market today. Conveniently, their vegan varieties have quite a noticeable package label. But if you want to know which varieties you can enjoy from their vegan range, here’s a complete list for US and UK:
Vegan Quorn Products
- Vegan Meatless Spicy Patties
- Vegan Fishless Sticks
- Vegan Meatless Pieces
- Meatless Vegan Fillets
- Ultimate Burger
- Battered Fishless Fillets
- Breaded Fishless Fillets
- Vegan Five Grain Fillets
- Vegan Sizzling Mexican Strips
- Vegan Hot & Spicy Burgers
- Vegan BBQ Strips
- Vegan Pieces
- Vegan Fillets
- Vegan Crunchy Fillets
- Vegan Cumberland Sausages
- Vegan Nuggets
- Vegan Smoky Ham Free Slices
- Vegan Fishless Fingers
- Vegan Chicken Free Slices
- Vegan Burgers
Vegetarian Quorn Products
- Meatless Pieces
- Meatless Nuggets
- Meatless Patties
- Meatless Turkey-Style Deli Slices
- Meatless Breakfast Patties
- Meatless Pesto And Mozzarella Cutlets
- Meatless Gourmet Burgers
- Meatless Strips
- Meatless Sharp Cheese Cutlets
- Meatless Meatballs
- Meatless Grounds
- Meatless Steak-style Strips
- Meatless Roast
- Meatless Italian Sausages
- Meatless Sweet Apple Sausages
- Meatless Fillets
- Cocktail Sausages
- Wild Garlic & Parsley Sausages
- Sausage Patties
- Gluten-Free Sausages
- Cumberland Sausage
- Low Fat Sausages
- Sausage Patties
- Top Dogs
- Sausage Roll
- Sweet Chili Sausages
- Best Of British Sausages
- Meat Free Sausages Toad In The Hole
- Mixed Grill
- Brilliant Burgers
- Southern Fried Burger
- Vegetarian Chicken Burgers
- Quarter Pounders
- Classic Burger
- Ultimate Burger
- Crispy Nuggets
- Southern Fried Bites
- Breaded Fillets
- Kicking Cajun Fillets
- Garlic & Herb Fillets
- Roasted Sliced Fillets
- Mexican Fillet Strips
- Vegetarian Turkey & Stuffing Slices
- Thai Aromatic Bites
- Mini Savoury Eggs
- Picnic Eggs
- Vegetarian Wafer Thin Chicken Slices
- Vegetarian Wafer Thin Ham
- Vegetarian Peppered Steaks
- Vegetarian Steak Strips
- Vegetable Jalfrezi
- Vegetarian Beef Roast
- Vegetarian Bacon
- Vegetarian Bacon Slices
- Spinach & Red Pepper Slices
- Vegetarian Chicken Slices
- Buttermilk Bites
- Sweet Chipotle Goujons
- Emmental Escalope
- Cheese & Broccoli Escalopes
- Vegetarian Gammon Steaks
- Mozzarella & Pesto Escalopes
- Meat Free Cheese & Leek Escalopes
- Garlic & Mushroom Escalopes
- Comforting Cottage Pie
- Vegetarian Chicken & Leek Pie
- Vegetarian Chicken & Mushroom Pie
- Steak & Gravy Pies
- Vegetarian Steak Pie
- Vegetarian Pepperoni
- Moroccan Tagine
- Tantalising Tikka Masala
- Vegetarian Steak Slice
- Sweet & Smoky Strips
- Vegetarian Ham Slices
- Meat Free Pasties
- Oriental Stir Fry
- Love It Lasagne
- Swedish Style Balls
- Full Of Beans Chilli
- Ristorante Pizza Royale
- Ristorante Pizza Pesto
Is Quorn Mince Vegan?
Quorn Mince is Quorn Foods UK’s most versatile product that looks and tastes like ground meat. However, like most Quorn products, it contains eggs, which only makes it vegetarian and NOT vegan.
What Does Quorn Taste Like?
If you’re yet to try it, I’m sure you’re dying to know what it tastes like. Quorn is popular for having a meat-like texture. Although the taste varies between flavors and varieties, most consumers say the plain ones can be tasteless, and the ones with flavors can taste either like chicken or beef.
The way you cook Quorn, depending on the variety, will also make a difference in taste. Quorn mince, for example, will just take up the flavor you put it in.
Most Quorn products are not ideal for liquid marinade as it can get soggy and mushy. However, a lot of consumers have found endless ways to enjoy it. From bolognese and sandwiches to stews and casseroles, Quorn is still quite versatile. Most users also find that it works better with powder marinades.
In a taste test done on BBC’s The One Show, 75% of people couldn’t tell the difference between Quorn and real meat. The taste test used a chili con carne recipe in 3 different products: beef mince, pork mince, and Quorn mince.
What Is Mycoprotein?
To make Quorn an ideal meat substitute, it needs to contain a significant amount of protein. This is why veggie meat substitutes often use protein-rich vegetables like soy. On the other hand, Quorn produces their own unique protein, the mycoprotein. Are you curious what it really is?
The discovery and initial development of mycoprotein from the soil fungus Fusarius venenatum can be traced back to the 1960s. This was after the widespread fear of a future food shortage from overpopulation. However, testing and modifications for safe consumption took about 20 years. Hence Quorn’s launch in 1985.
By fermenting the fungi using glucose or sugar, Quorn was able to grow their very own sustainable protein. This fungi is a microscopic mold, which, only requires a brewing process similar to beer-making.
Currently, Quorn is the only food company that manufactures and sells mycoprotein under their trademark and patent protection.
Mycoprotein And Nutrition: Is Quorn Healthy?
According to Quorn, mycoprotein also helps to mimic the texture and taste of meat. It is also high in fiber and low in fat and carbohydrates, plus zero cholesterol. Some studies also suggest that it has the following health benefits:
- Lower blood cholesterol
- Enhance satiety
- Control blood sugar levels
- A good source of zinc and selenium
- Reduction of energy intake
Quorn products can contain up to 90% mycoprotein. The rest are flavors, enhancers, extenders, and preservatives.
Nutrition Facts Of Vegan Quorn Products (US)
Quorn Product: Meatless Spicy Patties (per 66g or 1 patty)
Calories: 130 kcal
- Sodium 230mg
- Sugar 1g
- Cholesterol 0mg
Quorn Product: Meatless Vegan Fillets (per 63g or 1 fillet)
Calories: 70 kcal
- Sodium 120mg
- Sugar <1g
- Cholesterol 0mg
Quorn Product: Meatless Pieces (per 110g or 1 cup)
- Sodium 200mg
- Sugar <1g
- Cholesterol 0mg
Quorn Product: Fishless Sticks (per 100g or 5 sticks)
- Sodium 200mg
- Sugar <1g
- Cholesterol 0mg
Aside from its protein and fiber, Quorn products are noticeably low in calories, carbs, sugar, and fats. Almost all of its products are also zero cholesterol. However, as a processed food product, most of it also contains a high amount of sodium.
The daily maximum limit for sodium is 2,300mg, with an ideal limit of 1,500mg. However, if you’re an older person or have hypertension, this limit falls to 530mg.
To consider a food product as “low-sodium”, it should have no more than 140mg per serving. The vegan Quorn products (in the U.S.) contain between 120 to 340 milligrams of sodium per serving.
This means if you eat several servings in a day, you’re already pretty much around the ideal limit. If you include the other food items you eat in a day, you can easily go over the limit.
So if you’re looking at incorporating Quorn in your daily vegan meals, you must consider the sodium amount as well. This way, you can still enjoy it without going overboard with salt.
Is Quorn Better For You Than Meat? Mycoprotein Vs Animal Meat
In terms of protein, animal meat is easily higher per gram. 100g of meat contains around 26g of protein, while Quorn products have an average of 14g per 100g.
Another argument when it comes to protein sources is the bioavailability. This pertains to the protein’s quantity and quality after digestion and absorption. Specifically, the amount that is actually useful for the body, biologically speaking.
A study from 2017 answers this by showing that mycoprotein has a similar bioavailability with animal protein. The study also mentions that mycoprotein “may be a useful source of dietary protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates”.
However, unlike meat, Quorn is low in iron and B vitamins, but it makes up for it with fiber. Mycoprotein is also very low in cholesterol (often zero!), which makes it a great protein source without meat’s artery-clogging cholesterol. The best part? It’s cruelty-free and environmentally friendly!
Here’s a quick comparison:
Contents Per 100g:
Calories: 143 kcal
Quorn Vegan Meatless Pieces:
Calories: 109 kcal
On average, plain meat only contains around 57mg of sodium. However, this increases significantly with cooking since salt, flavors, and spices are often a must with meat dishes.
Although animal meat is higher in protein, Quorn is better in terms of overall nutrition. This is because you get the same quality of protein but without the cholesterol. Plus you also get fiber and less calories!
Quorn Foods’ History Of Controversies
The popularity of Quorn products didn’t come easily. Over the years, Quorn had their fair share of controversies that often come with popularity, especially with food products. From recalls to allergies, let’s see if these controversies are something we must worry about.
Product Batch Recalls
Meat-free beef steaks – July 2015 in UK; for possible contents of allergens not declared in the packaging such as wheat and gluten.
Meat-free mince – March 2017 in UK; for possible contents of metal.
Tikka Masala – February 2018 in UK; for possible presence of flexible rubber in the masala sauce.
Gluten-free burgers – July 2018 in UK; for containing gluten.
Quorn’s recalls noticeably happen in small batches, typically with products made in the same day. Also, it often only includes a certain store only. However, the brand was always responsible enough to make the announcement and advise consumers to return the products for refund.
Quorn And Molds
Critics of the brand in the US has been quite vocal about their concerns over Quorn products containing molds. This isn’t another cause of recall though, because these critics are talking about Quorn being a “vat-grown fungus”, technically speaking.
These critics believe that the word “mold” should appear in Quorn’s food labels, as some finds the name mycoprotein misleading.
After the settlement of the resulting lawsuits, the brand did not change their labels to pacify these complaints. Instead, they put their product website on the labels to direct consumers to “more information”.
While it’s true that mycoprotein is grown from fungus, it’s also worth noting this controversial protein’s history. Specifically, the number of years it took for it to get an approval for commercial use. This approval ensures that the modifications in the development of mycoprotein has made it safe enough for human consumption.
Mycoprotein Allergies And Other Side Effects
Despite the FDA’s approval and GRAS stamp, there are consumers, mostly in the US, who had claims of health issues arising from Quorn consumption. These complaints of adverse reactions include the following:
- Blood in stools
- Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
Allergies can be seen as common with foods that contain protein. However, the problem with mycoprotein is that it’s not a known allergen. This is if you compare it to common allergens like egg, milk, nuts, and soy, for example. But then again, mycoprotein is exclusive to Quorn only and is not as widely consumed as the others.
The CSPI has always been active in its protests against FDA’s approval of Quorn products in the US. They insist that Quorn products should come with a warning on its labels. Otherwise, they believe it should be taken off completely from the US market.
The worst case of adverse reaction from mycoprotein is an anaphylaxis resulting to the death of an 11-year old boy. This was following the consumption of Quorn Turk’y burger for dinner. The boy’s mother states that the child does have a known allergy to mold. The problem is, she was not aware that Quorn is made from molds.
This unfortunate incident eventually led to the brand’s decision to finally add a warning in their product labels in the US.
From a 2017 a court agreement, Quorn products in the US must now have a prominent label statement that says: “Mycoprotein is a mold (member of the fungi family). There have been rare cases of allergic reactions to products that contain mycoprotein.”
Digestive issues, on the other hand, has been thought to arise from the product’s fiber and protein content. Oftentimes after consuming several consecutive servings of different Quorn products.
The UK Food Standards Agency says that the cases of intolerance to mycoprotein is only 1 in 100,000 to 200,000. This is in comparison to soy allergies which is 1 in 200. Furthermore, the FDA believes that the reactions are just non-life-threatening cases of food intolerance.
Quorn Consumption: Pros And Cons
If you feel you still can’t decide whether to give Quorn a try or not, here’s a quick summary:
- High quality protein
- Low fat, low cholesterol, and low carbohydrates
- Good source of fiber
- Has many potential health benefits
- Environmentally friendly (less carbon footprint)
- Made from fungi (a disadvantage for people with fungi or yeast problems)
- May cause digestive intolerance
- Not for people with mold or protein sensitivities
- Some varieties are high in salt
As for the taste? Only you can be the judge of that.
BONUS: To learn if Mycoprotein, the main ingredient in Quorn. is as good for you as animal protein, check out the video below.
Is Quorn Good For You?
As with all other food products, Quorn isn’t for everyone. Quorn is a great meat alternative for many reasons. However, as a lab-grown food that is unique in itself, more studies about mycoprotein need to be done.
In particular, there has to be more studies and awareness about human intolerance and sensitivity to mycoprotein.
Quorn is good for you if:
You want to go meat-free, and don’t have mold or protein allergies. It’s also better if you can plan your meals properly when using Quorn. This will help you achieve proper nutritional balance.
Quorn is NOT for you if:
You allergic to molds and proteins, and if you need to restrict your fiber and sodium intake. Since Quorn is made from fungi, you must also avoid it if you have fungal or yeast infections.
If you want to try Quorn products, I suggest that you start with a small amount. If you don’t notice any undesirable reaction after a day, you can gradually add more. A lot of the people who had digestive issues after eating Quorn noticeably had a bit too much of it. And by that I mean at least 2 servings in one meal.
Also, if you are dining at vegan restaurants, always ask what they use in their meat alternatives. Remember this especially if you have food allergies and intolerance. Sometimes, they won’t tell you unless you ask.
Quorn is also a highly processed food product with a high sodium content. At best, its consumption should only be moderate. If you feel you need more protein in your diet, check this article about vegan protein supplements.
Common Vegan Meat Substitutes
These alternatives are either rich in protein or have a texture similar to meat fibers. You just have to put in work on the flavor section to make it more convincing!
However, if you’re only after protein, the vegan world has a lot to offer. Find more vegan protein sources here. Also, you can just forget about these meat substitutes, unless you’re still early into your transition and still crave it.
Mind you, you might find yourself eventually disliking it. I personally don’t like the taste of meat anymore because it makes me feel like I am eating real meat. Yes, it can be off-putting for long-time vegans! We vegans are supposed to avoid it after all, right?
While the brand means well for consumers and the environment, Quorn still remains to be a highly controversial meat alternative. It’s a cruelty-free and high quality protein source with many potential health benefits.
However, if you have allergies, yeast/fungal infection, and fiber intolerance, it’s best to steer clear from it.
Do you eat meat substitutes? What brands do you go for and why? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.