Are Sausages Unhealthy?


We all know that meat sausages are not in the top list of healthy food, not even at the bottom of that list. When it comes to sausages (and other processed meats) there is a big red flag. Health alert! Many of us prefer not to know what sausages are made of, but ignorance is not always bliss, especially when it comes to food.

So, why am I writing about the dodgy ingredients in sausages and why they are bad for you if my website is called “My Vegan Sausages“? Well, I am going to compare pork sausages with plant-based sausages, and show you that there is a healthier way to consume these round favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All is not lost.

So, let’s look at the unappetizing list of what goes in pork sausages, which is a popular snack food. Then I’ll list the ingredients of high quality vegan brand sausages. I’ll let you decide which can be eaten with less risk to your health.

The Truth …

All right, here it comes. What are pork sausages made of? The most common ingredients are:

  • Processed leftovers of pigs  disgusted
    • Blood
    • Guts
    • Organs
    • Head meats
  • Some casings are made of cattle hide
  • Blood sausages (very popular in some European countries) contain 2 cups of pig blood per recipe
  • High fat and salt content
  • Nitrites and nitrates

I was a little hungry when I started writing this article, but now that hunger’s gone …

Why Are These Ingredients Bad For You?

Processed meats are very bad for you and affect your health. People who eat a lot of processed meats are more prone to diseases such as cancer and heart disease, leading to early deaths. As for the leftovers, as the word says, they are leftovers. Where do you find that? Not nicely stored in a box … Much of it is picked up from the floor or tables after the killing and slaughter …


High fat and salt content are also damaging to your health, they are known to cause cardiovascular disease and stomach and colorectal cancer … A high fat diet also leads to obesity, which in turn is another trigger for health issues.

What Are Nitrites and Nitrates?

Let’s get to the chemicals now, and they’re not good either.

Nitrite gives certain processed meats their pink coloring (for example ham and bacon) and it battles harmful bacteria in processed meats. Nonetheless, nitrite may damage cells in the human body (under certain conditions) and change into cancer causing molecules …


Nitrite is naturally found in other food sources too (even in some plants, for example spinach and radishes), so it is important to keep the nitrite doses to a minimum. This news about other nitrite sources should not be so scary though, since I have never known anyone – besides Popeye – who ate spinach every day. I do, however, know plenty of people who ingest processed meats on a nearly daily basis …

Nitrate – just like nitrite – is found in many vegetable sources and is also an abundant natural source. There is nitrate in lettuce and so far we haven’t had any health scares about lettuce, have we 😉 ? So, why would it be considered bad? The reason is that there is a huge difference between nitrates found in plants and how nitrates are packaged in meats.

When nitrates are used in meat processing, they interact with red meat and then form N-nitroso compounds which are known to cause cancer.

It makes us take a whole other look at foods like sausages, and not only sausages, also hams, bacon, salamis, etc …

What About Sausages That I Can Eat?

Of course, there are some you can eat! I love sausages, but I eat only plant-based ones, store bought or home made. So, they are guilt free in the health and cruelty department 🙂 First of all, let me give you a list of ingredients that you usually find in vegan sausages.

The below list features what can go in vegan sausages, but it doesn’t mean that every vegan sausage has exactly those ingredients. Some may have fewer ingredients, others may eliminate soy or gluten. It depends on the company. I hope that this list, however, gives you a good idea.

  • The sausage casing is usually made of plant based ingredients, such as cellulose for example. In most cases, the sausages have no casings.
  • Wheat gluten (there are also gluten free vegan sausages)
  • Textured soy protein
  • Seasoning
  • Oil (rapeseed oil, olive oil, or palm oil, and others – although I don’t want to recommend anything that uses palm oil)
  • Cereals
  • Sulphites
  • Fillings can be made of one or two of the following:
    • Soy protein
    • Tofu
    • Nuts
    • Seitan
    • Vegetables
    • Beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Sulphites

Sulphites … Another Chemical Romance?

OK, perhaps this question popped up in your mind. So, let’s address sulphites. They are a compound that are used as regulated food additives. Sulphites are substances that are natural in the human body and some foods. They may not be used on fruits and vegetables though, and if a product has sulphites, it should always be advised to the consumer, because in some cases it can aggravate asthma if you’re suffering from that condition.

pie-chartSulphites may have side effects such as an itchy throat or runny nose, but according to a report in medical literature less than 1% of people have strong allergic reactions to sulphites. So, that is not a worrying number.

What’s the Verdict?

While we can agree that in general sausages are not the healthiest food, it is safe to say that it is a lot better and less harmful to eat vegetarian or vegan sausages. The processed meat versions are prone to cause diseases and health issues. The plant-based ones are not.

Did you know that there are some really delicious and tasty brands out there?

A Few Good Brands

You should try Beyond Sausage by Beyond Meat. Many consumers have said that it tastes just like meat. Field Roast and Tofurkey also have very good products. To find out more, check my article on vegan sausage brands. You’ll find a plethora on yummy, plant based sausages, franks, hams, salamis, and hot dogs without having to worry about your heart or cholesterol. You could also make your own homemade sausages. Click here ==> to see the recipe.

I hope that this information was useful to you, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave me a message below.

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8 thoughts on “Are Sausages Unhealthy?”

  1. Very informative post,  thank you.

     It has been known for quite some time that processed meat and many processed foods in general are bad for us.

    I do occasionally eat pork sausages I must admit but always go for the better ones with less additives. 

    My daughter and son in law are vegetarian and I do enjoy the vegetarian sausages they have as well as the variety of vegetarian meals my daughter cooks. 

    I think many people are wary of being vegetarian, thinking that they wont have a good variety of meals but I can definitely say that you don’t have to look far nowadays to find excellent and very tasty recipes.

    • Hi Linda,

      That’s very true. You don’t have to look far nowadays to find excellent plant based recipes. 

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  2. There is one excruciatingly hardcore exercise that most folks are unable to perform – You put your hand on a product you’ve just picked up in store, then your cross your teeth to summon all the stength you have in all of your muscles to flip the product over to see its back side AND then.. simply read the label. Yeeey, victory!
    That’s how easy losing weight & being a little bit healthier is. But most folks can’t do it.

    I agree with you on that many pork sausages are made of processed leftovers. I sincerely belive that blood & guts, these are the pure parts. You are being optimist, I like it.
    There are also excrements, boneshards, dirt from the farmland & the lost pair of latex gloves that butcher dropped into meatgrinder without a worry in the world. All of that to increase the appetite of customer.
    However, not all sausages are made the same way. Besides poor quality products there are plenty of prime cuts as well.

    Bad news is, to find one, that hardcore exercise I just mentioned above must be applied.
    You have some really good recommendations here. I like the Beyond Sausage.

    What I personally don’t get is the general habit of demonizing fats. It’s a widely spread misconcept in modern society.
    Grab a first dude who has nutritional science degree & they will tell you that human being won’t survive without fats. They physically cannot. Period.
    The excess sugars that creep in from every skin pore are the ones that should get extra attention – Especially the ones that are not coming from fresh fuits & vegetables but doughnuts & snickers bars. Dead calories as we call them.

    In addition to fats, I wouldn’t play the cancer card anywhere anymore. What would be the point or message here – Our chickens are full of antibiotics, the rest of the cattle is full of GMO’s. Is it okay? No. It’s inevitable & it only gets worse.
    It doesn’t work any other way, our planet would be in starvation for decades already.
    Then it’s bound to happen a motivated vegan hops in & yells, ‘hey there’s your reason to start chewing on plants, they’re so healthy’ – All the greenery is coated with fertilizers & preservatives: A green liquid that literally glows under the moonlight & will stay on the ground a century after a persons body has been decayed. Mhm, healthy it is, duly noted.

    But how could anyone refuse, that plump watermelon was so juicy & inviting!?

    What follows is that a word ‘natural’ bursts in flames, & rises from ashes like phoenix that marketers will leverage from big time, trying to convince you that their lettuce grown on the ladybugs dung is the top self deal you won’t get anywhere else. So, in essence, natural is completely meaningless word. 
    Oh, but I do love fairytales. The more the better & they’re especially exciting to tell your children as well.
    Yeah, chemical factory waste that floats in rivers is also 100% natural – It’s originating from the planet earth. It has not fallen from outer space. Everything that comes from earth is natural.

    I believe it all boils down to matter of tastes mostly. All options are good in their own way.
    Better, higher quality products are there & remain so, however they’re all rigged at some level or another.

    • Well, hello there Henry, and thank you for your enlightening comment. I am aware of the other disgusting elements in animal sausages like latex gloves, excrements, etc, and I was going to say more about that in my next post, so thank you for mentioning that here … 

      I do agree that as a consumer you simply have to read the labels, check what’s in the product you buy. I do it all the time, but I realize that a lot of people don’t … 

      I am not sure why you think I am demonizing fats. I am not. I mentioned that a high intake of fat is not good, I didn’t say that people shouldn’t eat fat at all. While I understand your stance and I can see where you’re coming from, pehaps your remark was based more on what you have read in other posts and/or heard from other vegans, vegetarians, health advocates, and what-have-you, and as a result you just assumed or misunderstood me because you had already added me to the generalized version of vegans. When we are prejudiced, our conceptions and interpretations are negatively influenced by that. Is this what happened to you when you read my post?

      I do not “play the cancer card”. The meat industries have done their best to make the connection between a meat and dairy diet with cancer “a lie”, but the connection has been proven by scientists. I would never “play the cancer card”, since two people who were very close to me had cancer. One of them had cancer three times in his life, and while I would never be as arrogant as to claim to know the cause, I do know that if he had changed his high red meat diet during his life and in between cancers and other diseases he suffered, things might have been different. 

      My best friend survived breastcancer, and she has changed her diet because of it. Trust me, meat is not the sole cause, but there is a connection. Based on the suffering I have seen with loved ones who had cancer, I would NEVER “play the cancer card”. I would also never make a claim without doing research. I mention cancer because I have seen it eat away at two people I love. 

      Calling me a “motivated vegan who hops in to yell at people to start chewing plants” is also a wrong assumption. I am not one of those vegans you generalize, and in my experience, people always tend to generalize a certain group of people (in this case vegans) because they either don’t like them or don’t know enough about them. 

      I am also very well aware that there are meat sausage producers who make sausages with less dodgy ingredients in them and who cure them with traditional methods, but … well… obviously, I will not promote such products because although they may be of higher quality, they still come from extreme cruelty, and I cannot and will not promote that. I have witnessed slaughter and animal abuse (for real, not on videos), I have heard the screams of animals who didn’t want to die and I watched them run in terror  from the people who were about to kill them. I will never promote anything that comes from such cruelty, regardless of the “quality” of the “product”.

      I am not sure when in my article I mentioned the word “natural”, but I do appreciate your thoughts about it. Great comment and suggestions, duly noted.

  3. I love sausages. But like you said they are not so healthy and I am trying to stay away from both nitrates and sodium as well. I am so happy that you recommend Morning Stars, it is my favorite brand. The corn dog is my favorite one. As for Tofuturkey, not a big fan but oh well if I can eat a little healthier I will do. Thanks for your amazing review 🙂  


    • Hello 🙂

      There are mixed opinions about Tofurky, I like them, but I know that some vegans are not too crazy about them. I guess we all have different tastes 😉 Morningstar have nice breakfast links, I really enjoy those, I think it’s time to get some of those sausages again 🙂 

  4. Interesting here I never knew sausages are that bad for your health. I’m sure there are good meats out there that are not too bad for your health. Health is very important, you got to look after yourself. I’m loving your contents, very informative and educational. It can teach a lot of people who are in a diet, wanting to be healthy and we all want to be healthy. We don’t want to be sick. A lot of food out there, are not good for you and bad for your heart. What sort of food that is good for you? Any food that can help reduce high cholesterol? Good for you heart? 

    • Hi Gordon,

      Some foods that lower your cholesterol are legumes, nuts, fruits and berries, wholegrains, cocoa, garlic, and avocados. 

      Leafy green veggies, avocado, walnuts, beans, dark chocolate are also good for the heart. I hope this helps 🙂 If you have any more questions, please let me know.


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