The plant-based food lifestyle is exploding—especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. With potential shortages threatening the meat supply, more and more people are warming to the idea of meat alternatives. Plenty of companies have joined the space, developing vegan– and vegetarian-friendly meat, poultry, and eggs. Eating more fruits and vegetables has merit, both for your health and the environment, but just how healthy are these plant-based burgers. brats, and bacon?
If you look on the label of your T-bone steak, there’s only one ingredient: beef. If you look at the ingredient list of your Impossible Burger, you’ll find over 18. Those ingredients are processed and combined to try and mimic the nutritional profile, taste, and texture of animal products. As such, you’ll find they’re similar in terms of calories and protein but slightly higher in carbs, sodium, and preservatives.
On the plus side, plant-based meats usually have a higher content of fiber, but not necessarily from a natural source like vegetables, legumes, or whole grains, but rather from all the ingredients they’re made up of. Plant-based meats are also much lower in cholesterol and saturated fat, which may be important for people with certain health conditions.
Regardless of your reasoning for choosing plant-based meat products—sustainability, health, and/or the treatment of animals—we took a look at the current products on the market. These are eight of the healthiest options you can choose, with the best taste and texture.
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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