A quick online search for plant-based and “fake meat” quickly plunges one down the rabbit hole of The Great Debate. Which is “better”- plant or beef-based burgers?
Burgers made from plants were envisioned as one way to reduce greenhouse gases and other environmental problems associated with raising cattle. The United Nations considers beef responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, much greater than emissions from transportation (all livestock accounts for 14.5% of global emissions). On the other hand, plant-based meat production has been shown to emit 30-90% fewer greenhouse gases than beef, with a 2018 study estimating Beyond Burgers at one-tenth the climate impact. Nearly 30 percent of the world’s ice-free land is used to raise livestock, and water used in production also causes pause; it takes 1847 gallons or 39 full bathtubs, to produce just one pound of beef.
Certainly sounds better, but what about human health? Plant burgers offer eaters more fiber than beef, and are similar in protein content and calories, however…
Plant burgers have approximately the same amount of saturated (bad) fat as beef.
Plant burgers have more added carbohydrates than beef, as well as a lot more sodium, and highly processed ingredients such as pea protein isolate, yeast extract, soy protein concentrate, potassium chloride, dextrose, and ingredients hard to pronounce.
Impossible Burger: 230 calories, 370 mg. sodium
Beef burger (85% fat): 287 calories, 85 mg. sodium
We Food Partied! at The Habit in Mountain View recently to check out not one but TWO veggie burgers on their menu. I had never been to The Habit before, celebrating 54 years in business in 2023.
The Habit isn’t the only fast food chain flipping fakies these days. KFC, Burger King, White Castle, TGI Fridays, Del Taco, and McDonald’s are all adding meat alternatives to their menus. The revolution will be char-broiled!
The day we visited, Original Impossible ($8.29) faced off
with the Veggie Burger ($7.79)
Both had a good flavor and filling. Personally, the winner was Impossible, which just seemed juicer. Could be thanks to the addition of heme, the secret ingredient that makes meat taste meaty. It's made for the burger from yeasts genetically engineered with genes derived from soy. Better? Not better?
And while we are talking health food invasion, how about a side of Tempura Green Beans? ($4.19) Green vegetables as a side dish in a fast food place? Deep fried. Better? Not better? Not sure, but tasty!
Who's got the best veggie burger? Any recommendations for a bite around town?