Oftentimes, there is an assumption that following a vegan or vegetarian diet equals a healthier diet. For some, this may be true. Incorporating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts into your diet is good for your health. However, with the rise of meat alternatives in grocery stores and restaurants, it’s important to take a close look at nutritional labels to understand what you’re choosing to replace meat with - as delicious and close to the real thing as they may be. This week, we’re discussing ingredients such as soy protein isolate and sunflower oil, looking at popular brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat, and giving our suggestions for Trash Panda approved meat alternatives.
Where Does the Protein Come From?
There are certain advantages to meat alternatives like the Beyond Burger. First of all, Beyond has gained popularity for its delicious taste. They do have some benefits in that they contain higher levels of protein, amino acids, and vitamins and reduced saturated fat. This said, these products are engineered - meaning they’re highly processed and your body may not easily digest them. Additionally, these products generally pack more sodium than regular meat.
The protein from Beyond Burgers comes from peas, mung beans, and brown rice. Impossible foods uses soy protein isolate for protein - which requires chemicals like hexane to process and is often derived from GMO crops.
What Else is Often Found in Meat Alternatives?
The use of canola oil in these products is worth noting as vegetable oils contain unsaturated fats that oxidize when exposed to heat and may trigger inflammation in the body. These products also may contain autolyzed yeast, which has been shown to cause headaches and other adverse symptoms, and sunflower oil, another highly processed oil that can cause inflammation when over-consumed.
Here’s a list of some of our suggestions for meatless products. We know everyone has different nutritional needs - so pick what makes sense for you!
Upton’s Naturals Jackfruit
Amy’s California Organic Veggie Burger
True Goodness Chickpea Sweet Potato Veggie Burger
Find them at Meijer
ALDI Black Bean Chipotle Vegan Burger
Heidi’s Real Food Persian Meatless Meatballs
Wildwood Organic Sprouted Tofu
If you’re looking for meat alternatives and want the classic beef (or chicken, pork, duck etc… they make everything these days) taste, these products may be a good match for you. However, understanding that products like Beyond or Impossible Meat are highly processed and not made with whole foods is important. Scanning the barcode with the Trash Panda app to see what additives are in your plant-based picks is always a good starting point!