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The Breakdown on Alternative Meats

Plant-based meat substitutes are everywhere today, but how healthy are they? We asked three pros for their take
Double Burger at Modern Times Far West Lounge

By Erica Nichols

With growing awareness of the harmful health and environmental effects of consuming meat, plant-based alternatives are more popular than ever. Even drive-thrus are slinging them, from Del Taco’s Beyond Taco to Burger King’s Impossible Whopper. New companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have made impressive strides in the food industry by offering competitive plant-based meat substitutes to satisfy those cravings. But just how healthy are they? Some critics note that the oils and soy used to create these alternatives may be just as unhealthy to consume as meat. We asked some local pros for their take.

The main ingredients

Impossible Burger

Beyond Burger

  • Water
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Natural flavors
  • Water
  • Pea protein isolate
  • Mung and fava beans
  • Brown rice
  • Canola, coconut, and sunflower oils
  • Cocoa butter

What the pros say

“Animal protein has plenty of benefits, including its high amount of protein and healthy saturated fats. On the flip side, our current agricultural industry practices leave our animal protein higher in unhealthy saturated fats. The same holds true with meat alternatives. Most meat substitutes contain soy, which can lead to changes in our gene expression and alter hormones. If you are using alternative meats, it’s critical to use organic, non-GMO options that are minimally processed and without added sugars and additives.”

Emily Poccia, naturopathic doctor

“The choice is a personal one. Does one take the same amount of pleasure from eating each option? Does one disapprove of the treatment of animals being raised for food? Personally, I prefer the Impossible Burger due to my own ethical concerns and beliefs surrounding eating meat. My professional opinion is that soy is a safe and healthy protein.”

Christina Gaunce, registered dietitian nutritionist, certified eating disorders registered dietitian

“The main issue I have with processed foods is the term ‘natural flavors’ listed in the ingredient profile. The term means that the food flavoring is derived from anything that is technically edible, but food companies do not have to disclose the actual ingredients. This is a problem, since children can be extremely sensitive to natural chemicals that have been added to products in high amounts.”

Stella Metsovas, clinical nutritionist and author of Wild Mediterranean

Local Bites

Anything’s Possible Burger at Bagby Beer Co.

The Oceanside brewery takes the traditional route with its plant-based burger. An Impossible patty is sandwiched with the essentials—lettuce, tomato, onion, and housemade pickles—plus vegan cheese and the chef’s special vegan sauce for a zesty kick on a whole grain bun.

The Burger at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Substitute the Impossible patty into The Burger at Stone, and you won’t be able to tell the difference! Two patties are seasoned and topped with all the essentials, including a drool-worthy house spread on a brioche-potato bun.

Double Burger at Modern Times Far West Lounge

Bid your love affair with Double-Doubles goodbye: Modern Times’ plant-based double burger includes two blackened Beyond Meat patties topped with smoked mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, a tart shallot jam, and coconut cheese.

The Breakdown on Alternative Meats

Double Burger at Modern Times Far West Lounge

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