Are Plant-Based Meats Healthier than Regular Meat?
You’ve probably seen advertisements from fast food chains now offering plant-based options like The Impossible Burger or Beyond Beef. Experts seem to agree that these “meats” are better for the environment—the Impossible Burger, for example, uses 89% less greenhouse gas emissions than beef. But what about when it comes to your health? Are they actually better for you than regular meat?
Lower in calories
If you’re looking at calorie count alone, plant-based protein wins the fight against animal-based meat. In fact, The Impossible Whopper from Burger King is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than your traditional Whopper. On the other hand, many plant-based meat replacements, like the Impossible Whopper, are higher in sodium than their meaty counterparts, and excess sodium is its own health concern.
Is it healthy?
Here’s what’s important to remember—most of us wouldn’t consider the Whopper a health food, and we shouldn’t consider the Impossible version a health food, either.
We all know we should be cutting down on processed meats and red meat in our diets, and many believe we should be cutting back on meat in general for ethical and environmental reasons.
Plant-based protein products are an easy (and often delicious) swap for animal meat, are sometimes higher in fiber and other nutrients, and are definitely more sustainable—but TBH, you’d be better off choosing healthier plant-based proteins over highly processed meat replacements.
What do we mean by healthier plant-based proteins? We’re talking beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, soy products like edamame and tofu, and veggies like spinach and mushrooms. These foods are going to do a lot more for your health on Meatless Monday than anything you’d find at a drive-thru, plant-based or not. To get started, try some of the recipes in our article on low-carb Meatless Monday recipes.
That all being said, if you’re really craving a burger, it might be better to choose the plant-based option so you can lower your red meat intake, but that definitely doesn’t mean you should eat burgers every day of the week.
If you decide to give plant-based a try, make sure to check the ingredients list and nutritional facts on your options when shopping or eating out. Make sure to check the sodium content and whether it has any added sugars you might not have expected.
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