Meat alternatives like Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger are taking restaurants around the world by storm. Nowadays, it's not uncommon for these vegan options to be on the menu for the consumption of animal foods on well-known chains such as Burger King, Red Robin, Cheesecake Factory, TGI Friday's and Tim Hortons (1).
But how can Beyond and Impossible assert themselves from a health perspective? If you want to stick to a plant-based whole food diet (WFPB), you should take a closer look before plunging your teeth into these meatless patties.
Anatomy of a vegetable burger
If you look at the labels of the Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods burgers, you'll find:
Beyond Burger / Impossible Burger
Ingredients: Water, pea protein isolate, rapeseed oil, refined coconut oil, 2% or less of the following: bamboo cellulose, methylcellulose, potato starch, natural flavoring, maltodextrin, yeast extract, salt, sunflower oil, vegetable glycerine, dry yeast, gum arabic, citrus extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic acid (to preserve color), beet juice extract (for color), acetic acid, succinic acid, modified food starch, annatto (for color) Ingredients: water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, natural flavors, 2% or less of: potato protein, methylcellulose, Yeast extract, cultured dextrose, modified food starch, 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
Nutrition: 290 calories, 22 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 450 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of protein. Diet: 240 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 370 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of protein
By comparison, a McDonald's standard burger has 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 520 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of protein. (McDonald's burgers also contain low levels of cholesterol and trans fats, none of which are contained in plant-based burgers.) Although the bun and spices contain fairly substantial ingredient lists, the pate has only one ingredient: beef. (2)
Neither Beyond nor Impossible products are the staple food for any diet.
Apart from ethical and environmental aspects of meat production, it is difficult to ignore the number and type of ingredients required to reproduce the taste and texture of a single ingredient food. Aside from water, almost everything in the Beyond and Impossible Burgers is highly processed, and many ingredients are remarkably similar to those commonly found in foods that are at least partially responsible for the current epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases numerous populations affect the world over.
Both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods call the health of the planet a key component of their mission, and their products outperform animal feed significantly. According to Impossible Foods & # 39; Impact Report 2019, their meat alternatives have:
Use 87% less water
Use 96% less land
Produce 89% less greenhouse gas emissions
Produce 92% less "nutrient pollution" (fertilizer drainage)
The numbers are given in comparison to "even the most environmentally friendly cattle production". (3)
How about the Beyond Burger? His footprint seems to be even smaller with:
46% less energy needed
90% less greenhouse gases are produced
99% less impact on water scarcity
93% less impact on land
The impact statistics were reported in a study by the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan using a quarter of a pound "USA". Beef "as a comparison. (4)
Made from plants, but not healthy
Deriving meat alternatives from plants can be less harmful to the environment, but the ingredients continue to be affected by several concerns:
Processed oils can temporarily affect the ability of the blood vessels to expand and restrict blood flow for hours after consumption
Saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol levels (5) and increase the risk of heart disease.
Yeast extract, a flavor enhancer, contains a lot of sodium and glutamates, which can cause side effects in sensitive individuals (6).
In addition, Impossible Burger includes both genetically modified (GM) soy and a new food additive called leghemoglobin, which is produced by plants in nature but is mass-produced for Impossible products using genetically engineered yeast cells. (7) Leghemoglobin gives the Impossible Burger its "bloody" appearance in cooking, but as it is not very long in the market, there is little research on long-term health effects.
The argument for (occasional) meatless "meat"
Despite the potentially negative effects of the ingredients on health, options such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are not without benefit. Do you remember when you left animal products? There were probably some unpleasant moments when you were invited to lunch or to a gathering where there was little or nothing to eat. Or you had a party at home and none of your non-vegan friends touched the food. The ability to order a meat-free option or to throw a few Beyond Patties on the grill alleviates the social tensions that many people feel in the early stages of lifestyle change.
And no matter how good you are in food planning, sometimes life happens. There are emergencies or unexpected changes in the schedules leaving you with a growling stomach and few options. It is unlikely that consuming an Impossible Burgers will cause permanent harm in these rare circumstances if your normal diet consists primarily of unprocessed plant foods.
However, neither Beyond nor Impossible products are intended as a staple for any diet. Whether you are WFPB or Vegan or just starting to reduce the amount of animal food in your diet, it is best to consider these meat-free burgers as what they are: Processed products will best leave you out most of the time Plate .
Although these much-praised meat alternatives are not compatible with a WFPB lifestyle, you're out of luck! Unprocessed ingredients such as beans, whole grains, vegetables and nuts can be combined in endless combinations to delicious plant-based burgers. The best part? They can be customized and frozen to your liking, so you can enjoy them anytime. Read this guide to make the ultimate plant-based burger and start your own meat alternative.
Rivera, Dane. "All the major chains that go beyond or about meat products." UPROXX. August 16, 2019. https://uproxx.com/life/chains-serving-impossible-burger-beyond-meat/.
"Hamburger: Our classic burger: McDonalds." Our classic burger | MC Donalds. https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/product/hamburger.html.
Mas, Carolyne. "Impossible Foods reveals the Impact Report 2019, GM Soy defends:" Cows can not make meat better. We are … "Foodnavigator. Https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2019/06/12/Impossible-Foods-unveils-2019-impact-report-cook-aren-t-getting-any- better-at-making-meat. -We are.
Raphael, Rina. "Meatless Burgers vs. Beef: How Environmental Impact on Meat Affects." September 26, 2018. https://www.fastcompany.com/90241836/meatless-burgers-vs-beef-how-beyond-meats-environmental-impact-stacks-up.
"The Skinny on Fats". American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prävention-und-behandlung-von-hoch-cholesterol-hyperlipidämie/dünnen-on-fetten.
Is yeast extract healthier than MSG? Fooducate, October 8, 2014. https://www.fooducate.com/community/post/Is-Yeast-Extract-Healthier-than-MSG?/54355E9D-E566-2B7D-474A -A6F7E44A1D73.
Clinton, Patrick. "The impossible burger is probably safe. Why is everyone afraid of heme? "New food industry. July 27, 2018. https://newfoodeconomy.org/plant-blood-soy-leghemoglobin-impossible-burger/.