The food of the future or a nutritional fad that should fade away? No matter which side of the debate you fall on, it looks like meatless meat (say that five times fast) is here to stay. This dietary phenomenon is one known by many names: meatless meat, plant-based meat, vegan meat, “this-tastes exactly-like-beef-are-you-SURE-it’s-not-meat?”, and one that has taken the aisles of supermarkets and menus of restaurants by storm. Having only been publicly available for a little under two years, it’s quite impressive that the majority of restaurants and establishments across the world include plant-based meat as an alternative to the real thing.
Now, let’s start with the basics – what exactly is in meatless meat? To find the answer, let’s look at two of the trend’s most prominent manufacturers: Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. These companies are best known for their imitation ground beef and burger patties.
The main ingredients in a Beyond Meat burger patty are: Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color). In case you don’t feel like reading through all that, and we don’t blame you, we’ve done a quick count instead. Beyond Meat burger patties take twenty ingredients to come together, while the Impossible Burger takes twenty-one. A beef burger, for comparison, only needs one ingredient.
The actual nutritional comparison between beef, Beyond, and Impossible burgers looks something like this:
The Impossible Burger contains 240 calories, 14g of fat, no cholesterol, 370mg of sodium, 3g of fibre, and 9g of carbohydrates. A Beyond Burger has slightly more calories, but less carbohydrates and saturated fats. Both plant-based options contain significantly less fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories than a beef burger patty.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, we can start to answer the question that’s found itself on the minds of most people — are plant-based burgers actually healthy?
Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?
The main argument against the growing popularity of plant-based meats has to do with their highly-processed nature. Processed, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a food product is objectively “good” or “bad”; instead, it refers to ingredients that are added to preserve, to add colour, or to add flavour to something. Some other popular foods that are also highly processed, like muffins, yogurt, deli meats, and ice cream, are probably already sitting in your fridge.
The same response can be given to the second most popular argument against plant-based meat: GMOs. While the Beyond Burger contains no genetically modified organisms, the Impossible Burger does. However, the same caution should be given to alternative meat options that is given to corn, potatoes, papayas, whole wheat bread, and margarine. As the effects of GMOs are still being studied, but with no major warnings thus far, it comes down to the personal choices of the consumer.
To state the obvious, plant-based burgers are the more ethical consumption choice when it comes to addressing the concerns and harms caused by widespread factory farming. With no animals harmed in the making of these burgers, and the assurance that they’re every bit as tasty as their classic beef predecessor, the choice seems like a no-brainer.
Plant-based burgers also have proven environmental benefits. The production and manufacturing of meatless meat release significantly less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the production of authentic meat does. Choosing plant-based over animal-made burgers means NOT choosing deforestation, water contamination, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Now that you’ve heard all about all the reasons you’d be tempted to try plant-based meat, you’re probably asking, “Where the heck do I get it?!” All of the following major grocery stores carry Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods, many with the option for delivery to your front door.
The world has been taking advantage of take-out now more than ever. Here’s a list of popular restaurants that do curb-side pickup and delivery to satisfy the alternative burger cravings you’re definitely having by this point.
And loads more!
Actually, you could probably find a plant-based burger almost anywhere, as these popular food chains have all added Beyond Burgers or something similar to their familiar menus:
One of the first fast food chains to hop on the meatless meat bandwagon, Burger King has recently reintroduced their signature ‘Whopper’ sandwich with a major twist: 100% beef free. Instead, the ‘Rebel Whopper’ is made with a soy protein patty, meaning it’s not vegan friendly but a great option for those who want to cut back on their red meat consumption! Here are some more places offering this delicious meat alternative:
While a burger may seem like your only choice, with the option to buy plant-based meat in its ground form, a new door of possibility swings wide open! Some great options include meatless meat sauce for your pasta, plant-based burritos and quesadillas, meat-free lasagna, and our personal favourite — meatless tacos! Here’s a recipe for those of you tempted to try them.
(Credits: Beyond Meat)
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 lb Beyond Beef or meat-alternative
½ cup tomato sauce
½ cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon oregano, minced
¼ teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon onion, small dice
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
⅛ teaspoon paprika, optional
⅛ teaspoon coriander, optional
8 soft corn tortillas
½ cup cheddar cheese (plant-based options available)
½ cup lettuce, shredded
½ bunch cilantro, rough chop
1 tomato, small dice
5 limes, sliced
Now that you’ve got all the goods, here are some super easy directions to follow:
While it may take a little while to wrap your head around the idea of meat without, well, meat, it’s one that many people find themselves being able to stand behind. At one point, plant-based meat was exclusively found in the kitchens of high-end restaurants as the innovations of award-winning chefs looking for a healthier and environmentally conscious option to feature on their menus. A few years later, this option has been extended to anyone with a kitchen of their own… or anyone with the UberEats app installed on their phone. Plant-based meat is a great choice for those who’ve eliminated meat from their diets, anyone who wants to reduce their beef intake but isn’t ready to make the commitment to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, or someone passionate about reducing their environmental impact.
Of course, we can’t forget the most obvious reason one might choose plant-based meat: the taste. The first question that follows any mention of plant-based meat is, naturally, “Does it taste like meat?” While taste is of course subjective to the taster, most of the answers to this all-important question have been a resounding “Yes!” In fact, many beef-converts claim that they can no longer taste the difference between plant-based meat and the real thing! From delicacy to drive-thru, it looks like meatless meat is here to stay…and we couldn’t be more excited!