The plant-based eating scene is changing. These 100% vegan burgers mimic your standard beef burger and are showing up everywhere from fast-food chains and food trucks to upscale restaurants and bars. Many people assume that a vegetarian product is full of vegetables, has fewer calories and less fat, and overall healthier. However, have you actually looked at the ingredients? Let’s take a look.
The Impossible Burger launched in 2016 and rocketed to fame, until it led to a temporary shortage. The Impossible Burger is touted to taste like a real hamburger because of the iron-rich compound heme, which is derived from soy. The saturated fat levels are similar to beef. However, the coconut oil content can raise saturated fat levels in many and increase blood cholesterol levels. Additionally, the Impossible Burger has 370mg of sodium – that is more than 4 times as there is in a beef patty!
The Beyond Burger is very similar to the Impossible Burger. The Beyond Burger maintains a pink center like a beef burger by the addition of beet extract. Because beets are used, there is no heme, which is associated with the flavor of red meat. The protein used is pea protein. The Beyond Burger is considered vegan, non-GMO, soy-free, and gluten-free.
Both the Impossible and Beyond burgers are under 300 calories for 4 ounces. The Beyond Burger is slightly higher in fat, but much lower in saturated fat because it uses canola and coconut oil. The Impossible Burger uses only coconut oil. The Beyond Burger is also high in sodium (390 mg) and contains a small amount of fiber (2 grams).
In general, eating vegetables is good for you. Ditching meat for health reasons is not a ticket to use replacement meat. These are not going to unclog your arteries and are not considered clean eating. Plant-based meat is not a health food. They are processed foods. If you are ordering a Whopper at Burger King, even if it’s plant-based, it is not going to be healthy.
Always read your food labels. Look for ingredients high on the list that are whole food. Beef would have one ingredient: beef. Your food should be suited to your particular dietary needs. If you want to have a burger, have the real deal - maybe without the bun, with lots of vegetables and avocado topping. Having the real deal will help satisfy that craving and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.