If you’re a vegetarian or trying to change your eating habits to sustain the environment, you might be swapping real meat burgers for veggie burgers. The sustainable food movement has recently gained tremendous traction and the faux meat industry — with brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat — is growing as a result.
But if you think eating alternative meat burgers is healthier than having real meat burgers, think again. While they’re made with veggies and other plant-based ingredients, many other added ingredients can make faux meat burgers high in sodium and saturated fat.
Let’s take a closer look at why fake meat substitutes aren’t necessarily a healthier option to real meat products:
- Saturated fat. Some people choose not to consume beef burgers because of saturated fat, which increases our LDL cholesterol or the bad cholesterol. But an Impossible Burger is comparable to an 80 percent lean beef burger patty in calories as well as saturated fat. It’s swapping one form for another.
- Sodium. Fake meat burgers are higher in sodium in comparison to beef and turkey burgers. The Impossible Burger and a Beyond Burger contain over 300 milligrams of sodium. A beef patty has over 60 milligrams of sodium and a turkey burger has just over 90 milligrams.
- Protein. When it comes to protein content, generally, plant-based burgers aren’t as high in protein as real meat burgers. A lack of protein can leave us feeling hungry and craving more.
If your food philosophy steers you away from meat, consider grain-based veggie burgers. Grain-based veggie burgers have less calories and roughly one gram of saturated fat, making them the healthier option. They’re made with real ingredients, like quinoa, edamame, walnuts, chopped veggies and more.
Plant-based substitutes are fine to eat, but there is no need to replace your beef burger if you do not enjoy these alternatives. Since most of these plant-based alternatives are highly processed, those who eat them should try to incorporate more whole foods and plant-based foods into their diet. For the healthiest route, eat lentils, fruits and vegetables in recipes prepared at home, not processed into a patty along with a laundry list of other additives.