This post will help answer some of the questions surrounding plant-based burgers. Questions like
1) What are plant-based burgers?
2) What ingredients are inside plant-based burgers?
3) Are plant-based burgers good for you?
4) Beyond Meat Burger & Impossible Burger
A plant-based burger is a burger made of plant products rather than meat. While that may sound unappetizing to some, it can have a comparable taste and texture to the real thing.
It takes a bit of science to get it right, though. It isn’t necessarily an easy task to figure out the right ingredients and components to make plants serve as a suitable substitute for meat, especially when it comes to taste.
Plant-based burgers use proteins derived from plants in place of animal product. They may include peas, beans, lentils, soy, wheat, rice, and of course, vegetables. Plant-based burgers also contain fiber. Though fiber isn’t present in large quantities, it is more than you will find in a meat burger.
Not all plant-based burgers are created equal. The meatless burgers that you find in stores and restaurants have become widely popular and are a convenient way to get your burger fix without consuming meat or meat products. Since they are fairly high on the processed foods scale, they typically contain a significant amount of sodium as well as a few other not-so-healthy ingredients that are added for taste and preservation.
Though they do have a few problematic ingredients, there is still something to be said for the plant-based burger. It truly depends on what is important to you in your diet. We all have different dietary needs and priorities. A person who has high blood pressure has different nutritional needs compared to someone who has high blood sugar.
How you benefit from plant-based burgers will depend mostly on your personal health and nutritional needs. Though there are several options available in grocery stores, restaurants, and even fast-food chains, you can also make your own!
An alternative to the processed plant-based burger is a delicious home-made option! There are numerous recipes for home-made meat-free burgers that cater to various dietary needs. There is something to be said about an excellent home-made meal.
The store-bought burgers are likely to have different ingredients than your favorite home-made variation. Depending on the recipe, you may use cauliflower, zucchini, tofu, beans, peas, etc. The possibilities are endless. And the best part? You can tweak it to meet your personal nutritional needs as well as your taste buds! Of course, the right seasoning is a huge part of any recipe. Afterall, what is the point of a burger without the right taste?
Rising popularity of plant-based burgers
The idea of a meat-less burger isn’t really new. Some international cultures have had this idea for countless generations. The idea seems to have gained traction around the late 1900s, achieving popularity in both Europe and North America. Though we’ve been hearing about veggie burgers since around that time, their popularity has truly begun to increase in recent years.
As different diet trends come and go over the years, reasons for certain diet restrictions and preference change as well. Plant-based burgers were once seen as an alternative to consuming meat product for altruistic reasons. Many consumers chose a meat-free diet in opposition to what they considered animal cruelty. While that is still true for some vegetarian consumers, there is an upsurge in consumers who choose a meat-free life for differing reasons.
More and more research is being done on the impact that our food choices can have on our overall health. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported findings that recommended a limitation on overall meat consumption. This recommendation was based on studies done regarding the effects of red meat and processed meat. Both were found likely to have cancer-causing properties, with processed meat being the worst of the two.
More research is necessary in this area; but it is safe to assume that the probability of a person being negatively affected by the carcinogenic components of meat is based on the amount of meat they eat.
To be clear, the World Health Organization did not say that meat causes cancer, but that there is a correlation between the amount and type of meat consumed and the probability of developing cancer.
It is probably safe to say that this new information has something to do with the rise in popularity of more plant-based diets, including the plant-based burger.
The business world is taking note of this and capitalizing on it. As we mentioned before, many grocery stores and restaurant chains have added more plant-based meal options to their menu, including the veggie burger.
Currently, two companies are leading the way in the production of plant-based burgers. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat saw their opportunity and ceased it.
You will find their meat-less burgers in some of your favorite restaurants and/or grocery chains. Burger King, Red Robin, Hard Rock Café, Umami Burger are just a few popular chains offering the Impossible Burger at select locations. Impossible Foods has plans to sell their burgers in U.S. grocery stores.
You can currently only find their delicious burgers at certain restaurants. Beyond Meat’s veggie burger, however, is available in both stores and restaurants! Their plant-based products can be found in Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, TGIFridays, Carl’s Jr., Dell Taco, Dunkin Donuts, and more! You can even order their plant-based patties on Amazon. McDonald’s hasn’t gotten the memo yet, but I’m sure they will soon develop a plan to start selling one of these vegetarian-friendly products as well.
Is plant-based burger right for you?
What would your nutritionist say? Assuming you have one. If you don’t, that’s ok. I’m going to tell you what I’ve heard a couple of nutritionists say about the plant-based burger trend.
Whether plant-based burgers are right for you depends on your lifestyle choices and also your particular focus on health and nutrition; as not all bodies function the same.
We are all born with different genetic make-up. Then the environment we are in and the habits we develop also makes changes to our anatomy. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa.
It means that just because a particular dietary trend is on the rise and works for your friends doesn’t mean it will work for you. When ironing out the details of your diet plan, you should always consider your body and health needs in addition to the typical benefits and restrictions of a specific diet plan.
As I mentioned earlier, many plant-based burgers are significantly higher in sodium than their animal-product counterparts. They are also reasonably high in saturated fat. Depending on your health and dietary constraints, this could harm you.
Not all fats are the same, though. You want to pay attention to the ingredients as well as the quantities. Some oils and fats are notably healthier than others. For instance, coconut oil poses much less negative risk than many of its commonly used counterparts.
One nutritionist also expressed a concern with the emphasis on protein in general, and recommends a plant-based burger that doesn’t try too hard to look and taste like the typical meat option. Protein is an essential part of any diet. But like anything else on the food pyramid, it has its limits and should be consumed in specific ratios. Overeating protein can lead to chronic diseases of various kinds. Too much protein can harm your heart, liver, and kidneys.
Certain types of veggie burgers are grain-based and made with more real vegetables. This option carries less emphasis on protein and may ultimately be better for you. You can find products like this on the market, or you can make your own at home.
Another possible issue is that many plant-based recipes for a burger contain common allergy triggering products such as soy, wheat, and gluten. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a plant-based burger. It just means you have to pay attention to the ingredients.
If you have a hard time finding a plant-based burger to meet your dietary needs on the market in your area, check out some recipes that you can make at home.
Depending on your reason for choosing a plant-based diet, you’re probably safe with plant-based burgers. Like with any food product, you always want to be conscious of what you are putting into your body. Read the labels. Don’t just limit your research to the daily value amounts listed. Also consider the actual ingredients and how they may individually affect your personal health.
Overall, a reduction in the amount of red meat and processed meat you eat should prove beneficial if you consider what alternatives you are using. Though plant-based burgers do come with their own set of concerns, as we’ve discussed, they are considered to be a better alternative for certain health and ethical apprehensions.