Did You Know?
Americans love meatloaf just like Italians love pasta. But when The Economist analyzed data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (2007), it was found that Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries, topped the list of countries that consumed the most meat. While a Luxembourger ate 300 pounds/year, an American consumed 276 pounds/year.
Traditionally, a meatloaf was made from ground or chopped meat, usually beef, bread crumbs, eggs, diced vegetables, and some seasonings which used to vary from place to place. The mixture was molded into the shape of a loaf and baked. In some parts of Europe, fruits and nuts were added to minced meat along with some seasonings. Some added wine-soaked bread and pine nuts, while some enjoyed adding boiled eggs to it.

Why Homemade Food

Although the recipes varied slightly, meatloaf was an invariable part of the dinner menu or a restaurant menu all over America. Till just a few decades earlier, meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and gravy was described as "the All-American meal." Today, the standard American diet (how correct the acronym "SAD" is!) is believed to be one of the world's worst diets as it contains more processed and refined food than fresh, natural, and whole food. Studies also indicate that Americans consume very high amount of sugar and sodium, and the diet doesn't provide essential elements like fiber, and minerals like potassium, in adequate amounts.

Meatloaf can, in fact, prove to be a tasty and satiating dish for fast-food lovers. It is easy to prepare, contains healthy ingredients, and can be served with mashed potatoes, side vegetables, and fruits. You can easily tweak the ingredients and spices according to their availability.

Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle can cut down calories from meatloaf by using lean pieces of meat. This way, they can lower the chances of being overweight. By adding more veggies and less meat, or by using potatoes, green peas, and different combinations of vegetables, etc., you can cut down significant amount of calories and increase the nutritional value. Vegetables can provide sufficient amounts of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals too.

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 100 g of vegetarian meatloaf or patties contain 197 calories. Other nutrients are described in the following chart.

Vegetarian Meatloaf, Serving Size: 100 g
Water58 g
Calories197 kcal
Protein21 g
Total lipid (fat)9 g
Carbohydrate8 g
Total Dietary Fiber4.6 g
Total Sugars1.20 g
Calcium29 mg
Iron2.10 mg
Magnesium18 mg
Phosphorus344 mg
Potassium180 mg
Sodium550 mg
Zinc1.80 mg
Thiamin0.9 mg
Riboflavin0.6 mg
Niacin10 mg
Vitamin B61.2 mg
Folate78 µg
Vitamin B122.40 mg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)1.73 mg
Total Saturated Fatty Acids1.425 g
Total Monounsaturated Fatty Acids2.188 g
Total Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids4.666 g

Nutritional Benefits

If you can afford to consume more calories, then you can add lean pieces of meat to the mixture. This can help increase the protein content. Protein is essential for cell growth. It can strengthen your muscles. It plays an important role in overall health and energy levels.

A vegetarian meatloaf is cholesterol-free. This lowers the probability of being overweight and having cardiovascular diseases.

Incorporation of legumes and vegetables makes the food rich in dietary fiber, which helps strengthen the digestive system. Consumption of high fiber food helps prevent abnormal spikes in blood sugar levels.

Consumption of homemade meatloaf helps reduce the amount of hazardous elements like sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, food additives, etc., entering our body. This helps lower the chances of health complications.

Use of garlic, onions, coriander, a dash of lemon juice, tomatoes, carrots, dried mustard, thyme, paprika, basil, cheese slices, nuts, etc., can make the patties tasty and mouth-watering. These ingredients can add vitamin A and C to it. Antioxidant-rich food can strengthen your immune system. You can add these ingredients to ground meat too.

It contains more monounsaturated fat than saturated fat. This helps reduce bad cholesterol in the body.

It contains polyunsaturated fat that is present in nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Ready-to-eat food is often low in this important ingredient as it is lost during processing.

It is an excellent source of B vitamins, like folate, niacin, etc., which are essential for various metabolic processes.

A meatloaf made with ground turkey can be low in calories. A 4-ounce serving would contain less than 200 calories.

If some slices remain, the next day, you can use them to make sandwiches. And don't be surprised if there aren't any leftovers!

There is one more important point that should be taken into consideration and that is "conservation of nature and natural resources". Modern research shows that meat has a far greater impact on the environment than any other food we consume. Food, water, land, and energy required for livestock farming is way more than that required to grow and transport plants. It is good that attitudes towards meat are changing. More and more people are deliberately following vegetarian diets or eating less meat than before.