With so many amongst us attempting to throw out the processed, junk foods from being part of our standard diet, meat alternatives have started to take up the world by storm. As a matter of fact, there are many restaurants that have started to incline towards vegan options—some of them even well-known restaurant chains like Tim Hortons, Burger King and TGI Fridays. This is a positive change as food corporations always move towards where their customers are—if their customers entirely skip the meat and only stick to a plant-based diet then that is what you’ll see on their menus. Corporations go where the money goes!
But if you are trying your hand at these fake meat and plant-based meat alternatives, then how does it look from the health perspective? Should you sink your teeth into these fake meat alternatives, or must you take a step back?
Breaking Down The Anatomy Of Plant-Based Meat Burger
If you were to deconstruct a plant-based meat patty, then here is the list of ingredients that you will find in it:
- Oils: Coconut, sunflower and pressed canola
- Cellulose from bamboo
- Citrus extract (to protect quality)
- Ascorbic acid (to maintain color)
- Succinic acid
- Acetic acid
- Modified food starch
In most cases, this adds up to 22 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein, 5 grams of saturated fats, 450 milligrams of sodium and 290 calories.
If you were to compare this to a beef meat patty, then the toppings and cheese alone would amount to 210 calories, 7 grams of saturated fats, 15 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein, 55 grams of sodium and 7 grams of saturated fats. Add to this cholesterol and trans fats—neither of these is present in plant-based burgers. The bun and condiments have patty extensive ingredients in them, but the patty is only riddled with proteins and plenty of grease and cholesterol to clog up the arteries that put you in a hospital bed even before you sprout greys.
Putting aside ethical and environmental issues when it comes to meat production aside, it is difficult for a disciplined eater to ignore the number of ingredients that reproduce the taste and texture of a single-ingredient. You would come to realize that there are far too many processed ingredients, and this strikes similarities with the very foods that are creating the epidemic of chronic diseases and obesity.
There Is More Than That ‘Meats’ The Eye
The carbon and pollution trail that plant-based diet and burgers leave behind is indeed a fraction of what real meat would do. Cattle and poultry are jam-packed in close quarters that stretch over thousands of acres. The waste left behind is beyond human comprehension, and the toll is taken squarely up by the environment.
Take a look at the statistics that plant-based patty burgers have over real meat burgers:
- It uses 96% less land
- Uses 875 less water
- It generates 89% fewer greenhouse gas emissions
- It creates 92% less nutrient pollution as a result of fertilizer runoff into rivers and seas
But is the picture about plant-based burgers all that rosy?
Made From Plants, But Not Necessarily Healthy
Now, as shown prior, deriving meat alternatives from plants do very little harm to the environment. But there is concern regarding the ingredients:
- Yeast extracts and flavor-enhancing additives are high in sodium. These contain glutamates and these are responsible for creating adverse side effects and reactions in certain sensitive people.
- Saturated fats can raise the levels of LDL cholesterol and keep you in the shooting range of heart diseases.
- Processed oils can cause a reduction, albeit temporary, in the ability of blood vessels to dilate and this restricts the blood flow for hours after consumption.
- It consists of genetically modified soy (GM) and food additives like leghemoglobin that are produced in plants but mass-produced using GM yeast cells. The long-term impacts of it are still something that scientists are figuring out and questioning.
The Choice Is Easy
Although there are health concerns in the ingredients in certain plant-based burgers, it is, without doubt, a far better alternative when it comes to animal meat burgers. If given an option, you would definitely want to cook your own plant-based patties using soy and tofu, and you are sure to make it healthier than store-bought plant-based burgers. You may make use of unprocessed ingredients like nuts, grains, veggies and beans to create an endless combination of delicious, plant-based burgers.
Whether you are making an entry in whole plant-based foods or are starting to trail off animal foods in your diet, it is a novel and healthy idea to have plant-based burgers. The best part when it comes to plant-based burgers is that you will be doing not just you, but also the world, a favor…