Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and the diet truth of the summer burgerJuly 4, 2019
Beyond Meat’s “meatier” plant-based burger.
Source: Beyond Burger
A vegan with high cholesterol sounds almost as paradoxical as a hamburger without meat. However, not only do both of these exist, but they both share common ancestors – Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
The health-conscious and environmentally woke populace of America has championed these two companies as heirs to the vegan throne, pushing the country forward to a meatless yet tasty future. However, dietitians have mixed feelings about whether or not these plant-based products should be viewed as “healthy.”
“They’re not much healthier than a meat-based burger,” said Julieanna Hever, a plant-based dietitian and the author of Plant Based Nutrition (Idiot’s Guides). “I’m concerned about the saturated fat levels as well as the excessive amounts of amino acids.”
Indeed, one Impossible Burger contains 40% of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat while the Beyond Burger fairs slightly better at 30%.
The impact of the “health halo” consumers place on plant-based meats has been translating quite directly into Hever’s experience as a dietitian.
“For the first time in 14 years I’m having people come to me quite frequently with high cholesterol or can’t lose weight or [they] gain weight while on a vegan diet because they’re eating a lot of processed foods,” Hever said. “They’re being kind of masqueraded as health foods.”
Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman recently told CNBC, “We can’t really market it … as necessarily better for you, because we don’t know.”
The issue, according to Hever, is not to be found on the nutrition label itself — which in the case of both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are available to review but not easy for the average eater to understand — but the context through which consumers choose to eat the product. She believes not all vegan foods are created equally.
“If [consumers] are gonna go to a fast food restaurant and they’re gonna get a burger anyways, it’s better to get the plant-based burger,” Hever said. “But if they’re gonna go have a healthy whole food meal or a plant-based burger, I’d rather them have the whole plant meal. You’re not going to be promoting chronic overnutrition and getting an excessive dose of saturated fats and protein and calories.”
In fact, the fast food industry already has started an alternative meat arms race, with many of the biggest brands racing to add these plant-based options to their menus.
Reducing red meat consumption
Plant-based dietitian and author Sharon Palmer thinks analyzing the health impact of the burgers should include factors outside what is written on the nutrition label.
“Research shows that red meat has been linked with numerous health risks,” Palmer said. “When we get away from looking at nutrient levels and we look at more of a plant-based diet and reducing red meat consumption, that’s another aspect. So these products could help you reduce your red meat consumption.”
Palmer also stated…