Several trends in food choices emerged toward the end of the decade, and perhaps the most talked about ones are plant based burgers.
Interest in the plant based burger comes from the convergence of several interest groups: those looking for the best foods for weight loss; vegetarians; sustainability advocates; and healthy meal planners to name a few.
Companies like Beyond Meat, Boca, Impossible Foods and Morningstar Farms rushed their products to market in a very competitive field. To date the most popular seem to be the Impossible Burger and Beyond Beef burger, available for purchase in grocery stores or in restaurants.
The trend toward food delivery services from Uber Eats and others confirms that plant based burgers are indeed hot sellers. Jeanette Mellinger, head of Uber Eats user research says the service is seeing a “greater increase in socially conscious and health conscious dining.”
While that may be the intention of those who eat these plant based products, I would caution that it’s not just plants you are eating when you have a plant based burger. You’ll see below the very long list of ingredients that make up these burgers, and not many of them are plants. I’ve also included a list of nutrients that are contained in a similar size serving of grass fed beef.
IMPOSSIBLE BURGER INGREDIENTS
Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.
- Calories: 240
- Total Fat: 14g
- Saturated Fat: 8g
- Sodium: 370mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 9g
- Dietary Fiber: 3g
- Total Sugars: <1g
- Protein: 19g
- Calcium: 15% DV
- Potassium: 15% DV
In summary, the Impossible Burger is made with lots of soy, oils, and nutrient additives. While it is vegan, it’s certainly no wholesome veggie burger!
BEYOND BEEF INGREDIENTS
Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Dried Yeast, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Acetic Acid, Succinic Acid, Modified Food Starch, Annatto (for color).
- Calories: 290
- Total Fat: 22g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Protein: 20g
- Sodium: 450mg
GRASS-FED BEEF INGREDIENTS
100% grass fed beef is the only ingredient. Note that it must be labeled free of added hormones and antibiotics to be a pure grass-fed beef.
- Total Fat: 23g
- Saturated Fat: 9g
- Cholesterol: 80mg
- Sodium: 75mg
- Carbs: 0g
- Protein: 19g
WHAT’S A HEALTHY DIET PLAN
You are more able to make an informed decision as to the best choice for you when you have this information. As a nutritionist I will always recommend a pure food in its natural form. While I personally rarely eat beef, it would be my preference over highly processed beef replacements created to taste like beef. If you choose beef, have it only occasionally while making the main attractions on your plate whole grains, legumes and vegetables.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog to learn why real plant based foods are good for you.
About the Author
Peg Doyle is a passionate clinician and educator committed to the vital link between food and health. She is the author of Food Becomes You – Simple Steps for Lifelong Wellness. A seasoned speaker, she aims to change the mindset around growing older with evidence based nutrition and lifestyle actions everyone can take. Her practice, Wellness and You is in Westwood MA.
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