Are Faux Meat Burgers Healthy?
There’s Burger King’s Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat’s Burger, Carl Jr.’s Beyond Famous Burger, White Castle’s Impossible Slider, Amy’s Organic Veggie Burgers, and Nestle’s Sweet Earth Awesome Burger (any many more!). Meatless alternatives and burgers are plentiful these days at restaurants and grocery stores. Led by an increasing awareness of environmental issues coupled with a healthy mindset, meat eaters, and vegetarians and vegans alike are trying new eateries for these new burgers.
Not all faux meat burgers are created equal
Some of these burgers are manufactured to have a similar look and mouth-feel of beef burgers whereas Amy’s Burger doesn’t try to taste like meat at all and has a list of ingredients with whole, real foods. In comparison, the Beyond Meat burger uses beet juice to simulate the juices in beef and the Impossible Burger is browned on the edges with a pink center and contains some ingredients I can’t pronounce as well as a high amount of GMO ingredients (such as corn, canola, and soybeans) that are highly processed. The meatless burgers with qualities similar to beef tend to be marketed to meat eaters who might shift to a flexitarian dietary pattern or at the very least, occasionally shift their spending habits, whereas for vegetarians and vegans, they have more choices.
How to decide what's right for you
Consumers should not be misled into believing that all meatless burgers are healthy, so go back to the basics and make sure that the ingredients list is short and pronounceable. There’s plenty of research to support plant-based eating for health benefits and longevity, but let’s not forget that the foundation of vegetarianism or veganism lies in its comprehensive plant-based approach. This practice should not be confused with eating meatless products, which are often made up of overly processed, unpronounceable ingredients. Some of these ingredients are grown in labs! Some of these burgers are not healthier, but might be more ethical in protecting the environment.
Limit the amount of faux meat burgers or eat healthy cuts of meat (i.e., organic). If you’re craving a meatless burger, try making your own veggie burger at home. You will have better control of the ingredients this way. Check out the One Green Planet website for good plant-based burger recipes.
Katina Sayers is the owner/operator of Katina’s Nutritional Coaching Corner. She has an extensive background in health and education that began with degrees in exercise physiology, health and physical education, community health, and culminating with a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction. She completed an advanced certificate of study in Integrative Nutrition and Health Coaching from the renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City. For the last four years, she has worked one-on-one with clients, presented a multitude of nutrition topics for large and small audiences, contracted with businesses to implement worksite wellness initiatives, and currently manages day-to-day food service operations at a local non-profit agency, as well as directs activities related to nutrition and health. Katina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.