Plant-based meat might sound like an oxymoron, but several restaurant chains and grocery stores now offer plant-based options like beefless burgers or meatless “meatballs” that go beyond the standard veggie burger.
With an increased demand for plant-based meat, you may find yourself wondering if it’s the right choice for your diet. Here’s what you need to know before embracing plant-based meat.
Plant-based meat is a food item made from plants that has a similar taste to meat and is made to look and cook like normal meat. It’s currently most commonly found in burger form, but some restaurants are getting creative with their plant-based meat offerings.
Though each vendor selling plant-based meat may use slightly different ingredients, one thing they all have in common is the number of those ingredients. Some plant-based meat products have nearly two dozen, including heme (which comes from yeast and has a meat-like taste), protein, several different oils (including sunflower and coconut), and starch, in addition to vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds.
Since plant-based meat is a fairly new product, the debate about its nutritional value is ongoing and seems to be divided.
So far, plant-based meat products have approximately the same amount of calories and saturated fat as real meat. Plant-based meat also has a higher sodium content, as many of the ingredients that make up the patties are processed.
That being said, there are some nutritional benefits to plant-based meat. It’s cholesterol-free and includes fiber, which isn’t found in real meat. That fiber comes from the processed foods added to plant-based meat, though, rather than fresh ingredients.
Another benefit is that it also reduces red meat intake, which doctors warn can increase your risk of cancer. Plant-based meats are a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable option, too.
If you’d like to try plant-based meat, you have several options. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are two of the most popular choices, since they began this plant-filled revolution. Each company offers plant-based burger patties and sausages. Their popularity has reached the level that many commercial grocers now carry these items in their meat sections — look for them during your next visit to the grocery store.