Turns out trying to make a plant-based burger taste and look like real beef, takes a lot of work. By work, I mean it takes a lot of ingredients.
A recent comparison of four popular plant-based burgers with the real thing, by the online site Nutrition, reveals the lengths manufacturers are going to in order to build a fake-meat market niche.
The plant-based burgers considered in the side-by-side comparison included the Impossible Foods Burger, the Beyond Meat Burger, MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Burger and the Boca Veggie Burger. All four contain anywhere from 37 to 11 ingredients. An 85% lean beef burger, obviously, contains just one ingredient—beef.
Along with the number of ingredients, these plant-based imposters are also taking some hits for saturated fat levels, carbohydrates and sodium.
To compare, start with the real deal. Here's the rundown on that 85% lean beef burger. It has 250 calories, 17 grams of fat (7 grams saturated), 0 carbs, 75 mg of sodium and 21 grams of protein. Looking at vitamins and minerals, it has 15% of the daily value (DV) of iron, 45% DV of vitamin B12, 2% DV of calcium and 50% DV of zinc.
FAKE MEAT SODIUM
Sodium levels, for health-conscious eaters, may be the hardest thing to swallow when it comes to the plant-based products. They came in as follows: Impossible Foods Burger (370 mg); Beyond Meat Burger (390 mg); MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger (663) and the Boca Veggie Burger (438).
FAKE MEAT CALORIES
On the calorie side only the MorningStar and Boca burgers came in significantly under real beef, at 187 calories, and 123 calories respective.
FAKE MEAT FAT. With regards to total fat grams, almost all the plant-based burgers, not surprisingly, were lower, ranging from 2g on the Boca burger to 14g on the Impossible Foods burger. The Beyond Meat burger, however, bucked that trend with 18g of fat—more than real beef. With regards to saturated fat, the Impossible Foods burger exceeded real beef, at 8g.
FAKE MEAT CARBS
All of the plant-based burgers contained more carbs, ranging from 3 to 15.
FAKE MEAT VITAMINS AND MINERALS
These varied widely by brand. Iron levels on most were equal to or surpassed real beef (the Morningstar burger was an exception here at 7%). On vitamin B12, only the Impossible Foods burger contained more than real meat at 130%. Calcium levels on the plant-based burgers all were higher than the real-beef burger. And zinc levels were lower on all of them, with the exception of the Impossible Foods burger, which was equal in levels to real beef.
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