Meat vs meatless: Which burgers are better?

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Meatless “meat” is becoming mainstream making Meatless Mondays easier than ever.

Launched in 2019, Carl’s Jr.’s has served up nearly 12 million of their plant-based patties. With National Hamburger Day coming up this month, KRON’s health expert, Karen Owoc, is here to compare the faux-meat, higher-tech burgers with the real thing.

The Big Players in the Meatless Meat Market

Veggie burgers (such as mushroom, black bean, tofu, and lentil burgers) have been around for decades, but only recently have plant-based burgers become higher-tech and have started to “bleed”.

The Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have figured out how to resemble real raw ground beef and make it look bloody.

Impossible Burger — Uses soy leghemoglobin (short for legume hemoglobin), which literally makes the burger “bleed”, but this special ingredient is not produced from soybeans. In order to meet the demand, it’s manufactured from yeast.

Beyond Burger — Uses beet juice as its “blood” source.

The Nutritional Rundown

Protein Sodium

Beef, 80% lean 19 g 75 mg

Beyond Burger 20 g 380 mg

Impossible Burger 19 g 370 mg

Source of Protein

• Beyond Burger: “pea protein” (a formulation of peas, mung beans, and brown rice). Protein isolated from plants are highly processed and don’t count as a vegetable.

• Impossible Burger: Genetically-modified soy product and potato. Impossible Foods touts they use 95% less land and 74% or less water compared to cattle production.

Calories Calories from Fat

Beef, 80% lean 287 72%

Beyond Burger 270 67%

Impossible Burger 240 53%

Calories from Fat

• The percentage of calories from fat is extremely high.

Fat Saturated Fat

Beef, 80% lean 23 g 9 g

Beyond Burger 20 g 6 g

Impossible Burger 14 g 8 g

Source of Fats

• Beyond Burger: cocoa butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil (The cocoa butter and the coconut oil add the “faux marbling” in the product.)

• Impossible Burger: coconut oil, sunflower oil

Beyond Famous Star® with Cheese

• Protein: 33 gm

• Sodium: 1600 (over the daily limit)

• Calories: 700

• Calories from fat: 396 (51.4% of total calories)

• Total fat: 44 gm

• Saturated fat: 13 (the maximum intake on a 2,000-calorie diet)

Should You Eat These Plant-based Burgers?

It depends — it depends on what you’re going for, e.g., is your objective to be more environmentally conscious, healthy, or do you just want to reduce your intake of red meat?

If you’re going for healthy, then these burger substitutes are not a good meat substitute. The manufactured “plant-based” patties won’t get you closer to your 5 to 7 servings of vegetables a day.

The Takeaway: These faux burgers are made with ultra-processed ingredients, and are highly processed to manufacture and mass produce. They’re very high in

sodium and saturated fat with no actual vegetables present unlike other “veggie burgers” on the market.

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