Slim Jims is a world-renowned brand of high-protein meat sticks produced by Conagra Brands. Widely sold and highly popularized by advertising campaigns, Slim Jims are one of the leading snack varieties in the United States, selling over 569 million sticks per year.
Slim Jims aren’t vegan, as all their products are meat-based; chicken, pork, and beef. People love Slim Jims for their flavor, protein content, and consumer-friendliness, but meat sticks also have more fats than protein and a decent amount of carbs.
Slim Jims is neither halal nor kosher too. Today, there are over 21 varieties of Slim Jims, most of which are made with a blend of meats (ugh). The sausage sticks maintain their red, meaty appearance using sodium nitrite; otherwise, they’d be grey and unappealing.
Slim Jims is best known for meat sticks, but bacon jerky, pork rinds, and beefsteak strips are also widely sold. Also, they’re usually more affordable than beef jerky and other snack meats, but they tend to trade off quality with flavor and color additives to make their products tastier.
Nonetheless, the more popular meat-based snacks become, the more cows, pigs, and chickens are needed to suffice the ever-growing demand, which we simply can’t stand negligent of.
One way to help lessen the consumption of meaty snacks is to introduce plant-based snacks that would be overall better than the original but would also have the same characteristics that most people, including non-vegans, enjoy.
Vegan Substitutes For Slim Jims
Despite Slim Jims being synonymous with “meat stick” and road trip snacks in North America, vegan snack sausages are now available and slowly rising to fame, even amongst those who are viciously carnivorous. In comparison, vegan “Slim Jims” might be the better version.
Viana Veggie Snack Sausage
Available in multiple online stores; Fake Meats, Amazon, Vegan Supply CA, Vegan Essentials, and Walmart, Viana Veggie Snack Sausages are the new, high-protein “meat” sticks that everyone should try. Please note that we aren’t affiliated with any of the links mentioned above.
Viana is a vegan/vegetarian-oriented company that sells 100% plant-based “meat” substitutes and is strongly committed to healthier and more fulfilling alternatives to cholesterol-aggravating meat products. They have various savory products such as veggie chicken fillet and nuggets, veggie sausages, veggie steaks, and firm tofu.
Viana Veggie Snack Sausages come in three flavors: Mild Jumbo, Picnicker, and Spicy Snacker. These plant-based sausages are made up of soy, wheat, and nuts proteins, sunflower oil, almond flour, locust bean gum, and other spices for flavor.
Comparing Slim Jims Original Giant Meat Stick and Viana Mild Jumbo Snack Sausage, both come with 130 cal per stick, but Slim Jims also contains 10 g total fat (3.5 g saturated), 30 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, and 6 g protein, while Viana contains only 7 g total fat (0.9 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, and 13 g protein.
Despite similar servings, Viana completely outweighs Slim Jims’ protein content, with much less saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Although Slim Jims have 1 g less sugar than Viana, Viana also has 6% more iron mineral than Slim Jims. It’s clear which is the healthier option. The only downside for Viana Snack Sausage is that it’s about a dollar more expensive than Slim Jims per stick.
Slim Jims Drawbacks
Saturated fat has long been preceded with a bad reputation. Since it’s often termed “unhealthy fats” and widely proven to increase LDL cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average healthy person should not consume more than 5% to 6% of his/her daily calorie intake from saturated fats. This should be around 13 g per day for a person who consumes 2,000 calories daily.
While saturated fat increases HDL and LDL cholesterol, overconsumption of saturated fats from food can cause inflammation, cancers, mental decline, and, most notably, more significant risks of heart disease.
However, the truth about saturated fats remains controversial as many scientific researchers showcase conflicting ideas, but one good theory may be drawn that particular groups react differently towards saturated fat. Such as, a group of fit and healthy individuals would show a negative response to a diet change that contains more saturated fat, while those who are obese and whose diets consist mainly of saturated and transfat wouldn’t bear any changes.
Fortunately, the vegan diet barely consists of saturated fats since most of these notorious fats come from meats, poultry, and dairy. However, we are susceptible to transfat due to dairy substitutes such as fully-vegan margarine. Transfats are considered the most unhealthy type of fats due to their processed nature.
The healthiest type of fats is unsaturated fats which are known to improve and maintain good cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, stabilize normal heart rhythm, and much more. They’re also mainly found in vegan favorites; avocado, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
The most well-known polyunsaturated fats are omega-3s, easily obtained from flax seeds (egg substitute), walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil. The American Heart Association once again suggests consuming at least 10% of your calories from polyunsaturated fats, and consuming even more is actually beneficial when these fats replace the majority of saturated fats in your diet. Woohoo, another great reason to be vegan!
Cholesterol in itself is a bad thing; but rather, it’s a waxy substance that the body requires to keep building healthy cells. However, overconsumption of cholesterol leads to cholesterol buildup in blood vessels and thus increases the risks of heart disease.
Cholesterol is also needed in naturally producing hormones and vitamin D, an essential vitamin that vegans usually become deficient in. However, the liver can sustain the necessary cholesterol levels in the blood, which is why limiting one’s consumption of cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fat is a good thing. So, if you want to avoid risking good cholesterol levels, take care of your liver.
Perhaps the number 1 mineral most people in the world abuse is sodium. While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend people to intake less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, the average American tends to consume 3,400 mg instead!
However, is sodium really that bad? Ideally, sodium is an essential nutrient that the body needs to maintain a balance of fluids, especially when it comes to water absorption and sweating. It also helps your nerves and muscles to function “fluidly.” Consuming too little salt may lead to muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
According to Healthline, it’s more disadvantageous and unhealthy to consume too less salt than to overdose on it, especially if you’re a healthy person who likes to work out and eat lots of greens. However, it’s still recommended to consume sodium within the 1,500 to 2,300 mg range as too much salt over time may also lead to heart disease and high blood pressure.
Iron is another vital mineral in the production and function of hemoglobin to carry oxygen throughout the body and remove carbon dioxide. Due to iron’s primary job to enhance the transportation of oxygen for muscles and nerves, they are much needed to boost athletic performance, increase energy efficiency, promote a healthy pregnancy, and decrease the chances of iron deficiency anemia.
The recommended daily intake of iron depends on a person’s age, sex, and size, but most commonly, consuming more than 18 mg of iron is ideal to keep a healthy generation of red blood cells. Pregnant and athletic women are advised to consume more, at least 25 mg.
Overconsumption of iron is also possible, and continuous overdose may lead to iron buildup in the liver, heart, and pancreas. It’s best to obtain iron from natural food sources since unnecessary or irresponsible supplementation is the leading cause of iron overdose, which causes symptoms of mild to severe bowel discomfort, vomiting, and, worse, death.
Vegan foods rich in iron are vegan-friendly cereals, oats, and white beans.
Perhaps what most people are truly obsessed about is any given food item. Protein is the selling point of Slim Jims, but sadly, the protein content per stick of Slim Jims is barely significant in comparison to its fat and carb contents. Viana Snack Sausages contain twice the amount of protein with the same amount of calories and with fewer fats and carbs.
Proteins, or the compositions of amino acids, are the building blocks of cells, and so these nutrients are essential to muscle repair, maintenance, and growth. They’re also vital to bone development, hormones, and enzymes.
Despite many people believing that high-protein foods are the best choice, a high-protein diet isn’t always recommended since the healthy daily intake should only be around 0.8 g per lb of body weight. Meaning that if you weigh 150 lbs, for example, your ideal protein intake should be 120 g. This is enough for your body to properly repair and rebuild itself during rest.
Consuming too much protein, such as twice your recommended daily intake, may jeopardize your kidneys, liver, and bones. Protein poisoning may also occur and cause severe levels of ammonia, urea, and amino acids that may lead to fatality.
Once again, plant-based alternatives prevail over meaty abominations as we’ve seen how Viana Snack Sausages are far healthier and more desirable than Slim Jims meshed-up meat sticks. Yes, vegan substitutes are almost always more expensive than the originals, but they’re also more than worth the price for their benefits both to us, our animal friends, and our environment.
We must continue to support the brands that produce high-quality, great-tasting, and guilt-free products that are slowly changing the world, bite by bite. Fake meats have never been more popular and widespread, so we must also partake in this purposeful endeavor towards a future where no suffering is ever required for us to enjoy good food and good life.