By: Sarah Casciato, RD, MHSc., and Alicia Lang, MHSc(c)
As the summer draws near, so does barbeque season. Aside from the classic hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages, your barbeque might feature plant-based options like veggie burgers or meat alternatives. You might have heard that plant-based meats are the healthier choice, but is that really true? In this blog post we will dive into the nutritional difference between meat and plant-based meat alternatives.
What are Plant-based Meats?
By now, you’ve probably heard of plant-based meat products like Beyond Meat™ and the Impossible Burger™, which have been trending since 2019 and their popularity sees no signs of slowing down. These products are designed to replicate barbeque classics like hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages, and more, but are made entirely of plants. These foods are made using a wide variety of ingredients and processing methods to create a meat-like texture and colour, while remaining a suitable option for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone interested in trying them.
What About Their Nutrition Facts?
To break it down, let’s take a look at the nutrition facts label for a Beyond Meat™ burger, and a beef patty, both the same size (4 oz.):
Beyond Meat™ Beyond Burger:
Lean Ground Beef Burger Patty:
As you can see, the two options are quite similar, the only major differences being that the plant-based burger is not a source of cholesterol, but is a much higher source of sodium, and the beef patty is higher in total fat and saturated fat. That being said, these nutritional differences are relatively minimal.
Isn’t Plant-based Good For Me?
There are absolutely some benefits to including plant based proteins in your diet, as studies show that reducing red meat consumption and including plant-based proteins can help lower your cholesterol, and decrease your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some times of cancer. However, this is based on minimally processed foods like legumes, nuts, and tofu. Choosing minimally processed plant-based proteins more often is absolutely something to consider when trying to improve the quality of your health and diet.
Plant-based meat replacements can be very similar, nutritionally speaking, to their animal-based counterparts. If you are not vegetarian or vegan, you may want to consider sticking with the animal-based option, or choosing a veggie burger that is lower in saturated fats and sodium. Choosing some plant-based proteins can provide health benefits and are absolutely part of a balanced diet, but choose minimally processed options like legumes, tofu, and tempeh more often than plant-based meats.
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- Allison Webster (Food Insight). (2020, March 13). Plant-based Meat Alternatives: Are They Healthy? Retrieved from https://foodinsight.org/plant-based-meat-alternatives-are-they-healthy/
- Beyond Meat. (2021). Beyond Burger. Retrieved from https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/the-beyond-burger/
- Allison Webster (Food Insight). (2020, January 29). Red Meat Recommendations: Controversial, Yet Consistent. Retrieved from https://foodinsight.org/red-meat-recommendations-controversial-yet-consistent/