Vegetarian lunchboxes are too oily and often contain very few vegetables and too much processed food, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.
Vegetarian cuisine has been booming as more people turn to vegetarian meals for health reasons, but the foundation doubts people are getting nutritionally balanced meal boxes.
Out of the 21 vegetarian lunchboxes bought as samples by the foundation, 16 were too oily, seven contained less than one-third of the recommended daily amount of vegetables, and 10 had at least two kinds of processed food products, according to the foundation’s survey.
The sample lunchboxes were all bought in the Greater Taipei area.
“Sixteen of 21 samples exceeded the health authority’s recommended fat intake of 30 percent of a person’s daily calories,” said Lee Cherh-yu (李哲瑜), an associate professor at Taipei Chengshih University of Science and Technology’s food and beverage management department.
A lunchbox from New Taipei City’s Shifangyuan (十方圓), for example, was found to have 1,084 calories, 40 percent of which were from fat, while more than 55 percent of the 870 calories making up a lunchbox from Taipei’s Sheng Hsuan (聖玄) came from fat.
According to the survey, nine lunchboxes had one kind of vegetarian processed food, eight had two, and two had three.
Six of those serving processed foods had calories from processed foods amounting to more than 20 percent of the total calories.
The vegetarian processed food products are usually loaded up with food additives to boost flavor, and these additives include coloring agents, spice, adhesives, leavening agents and preservatives, the long-term consumption of which could have negative health effects, the foundation said.
“While it is recommended that adults have three to four servings of vegetables a day, with about 1.33 servings per meal, seven of the 21 samples fewer vegetables than the recommended amount,” Lee said.
The foundation cautioned against the idea that vegetarian meals are automatically healthy, advising the take-out eaters to pay attention to the content of the vegetarian lunchbox and avoid fatty and processed foods.