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Plant-Based Meat: Nutrition Showdown


Plant-based meats have come a long way! Meatless products definitely aren’t a new concept and veggie burgers have been around for a while. But it’s only recently that these products are being marketed to not only vegans but also meat eaters as a substitute for typical meat-based dishes. 

The third wave of plant-based meats companies use food science ingenuity to create meat alternatives that taste and feel like the real thing. But are all plant-based meats created equal? 

To find out, we asked our nutrition intern to conduct a plant-based meat showdown! Our intern compared the nutrition facts of 5 plant-based meats available in the Canadian market, including our very own Neokit™ to see how these emerging meat alternatives perform nutritionally.

Here are our contestants:

  • Beyond - Beyond Beef [1]
  • Impossible – Impossible Burger [2]
  • Lightlife – Plant-Based Ground [3]
  • Very Good Butchers – The Very Good Burger [4]
  • Neophyto FoodsNeokit™

And while we are a bit biased (we’re big fans of the Neokit™!), we promise we are doing this impartially and simply examining the nutrition facts of each product! 

Ingredients

First things first, what are the key ingredients? 

Generally, plant-based meats are made from soy or pea protein, or in the case of Neokit™, both!

Neokit™ is made from non-GMO textured soy and pea protein, providing a good source of essential amino acids. Want to learn more about soy? Check out our blog post on soy myths!

Likewise, the Beyond Beef and Lightlife’s Plant-Based Ground are made of non-GMO ingredients including pea protein (so essentially protein extracted from peas), along with a long list of other ingredients.

Impossible Burger is made from GMO heme, soy and potato protein. The heme (iron-containing molecule found in plants and animals) in the Impossible Burger is made from soy plants. And this is what causes the Impossible Burger to “bleed” like real meat when cooking, while also providing a great source of iron. 

Unlike the others, The Very Good Burger is neither made from pea or soy protein. Interestingly, The Very Good Burger is created from black beans and mushrooms! This makes it a suitable option for those with pea or soy allergies. 

Overall, Neokit™ is a great choice for those who want to enjoy minimal ingredients (only 5!) without compromising on taste!

Nutrition Facts

When it comes to nutrition, which of the 5 plant-based meats is the healthier option? Let’s examine the facts one by one!

This chart shows how the different plant-based meats compare nutritionally:

Calories and Sodium

In terms of calories and sodium content, Neokit™ outperforms the other 4 plant-based meats, yielding the lowest number per 100 grams (g) of product.

Here are the numbers: 

Neokit™ provides roughly 142 calories per 100 g, compared to 212 calories from Impossible Burger, 230 calories from Beyond Beef and Lightlife and 239 calories from The Very Good Burger. For every 100 g of product, the sodium content for Neokit™ is 274 milligrams (mg), followed by Beyond Beef (310 mg), Impossible (327 mg), The Very Good Burger (354 mg), and finally Lightlife with the highest relative sodium content (430 mg). 

Fats

For total and saturated fat content, The Very Good Burger edges out the other companies, with Neokit™ at a close second!

The Very Good Burger provides 8.8 g of fat and 0.8 g of saturated fat, whereas Neokit™ provides 9.7 g and 0.9 g of fat and saturated fat, respectively. In contrast, the Beyond Beef, Lightlife and Impossible products have more than 12 g of fat and 4 g of saturated fat!

So it’s safe to say that The Very Good Burger and Neokit™ are the better choice in terms of lower fat content (maybe not for keto-dieters, though)

Carbs and Fibre

The Very Good Burger provides the highest amount of carbs (20 g), which is more than double that of the 4 other plant-based meat products. 

Neokit™, Impossible Burger and The Very Good Burger are leading based on fibre content, each providing 2.7 g per 100 g of product. While in comparison Lightlife and Beyond Beef provide only 1 g and 1.8 g of fibre, respectively. 

Protein

And finally, protein! When examining protein per 100 g, The Very Good Burger takes the lead at 21 g. But when looking at protein per 100 calories, the protein content of each product is relatively similar: 9 g for Neokit™ and The Very Good Burger, 8 g for Beyond Beef and Impossible Burger and 7 g for Lightlife Plant-Based Ground.

Take-away 

There you have it… all the facts!

When taking a reductionist approach and examining the individual nutrients, some products perform better than others for each nutrient.

Overall, Neokit™, followed by The Very Good Burger generally provide better nutritional value compared to the Beyond Beef, Impossible Burger and Lightlife. But although The Very Good Burger provides a higher protein (per g) content, one of the trade-offs are its high calories and carbs. Ultimately, the choice of plant-based meat is influenced by multiple factors including taste, food allergies and nutrition.

So, which is the best?....  We’ll let you be the judge!

References

  1. Beyond Beef®. (2020). Beyond Meat - Go Beyond®. https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/beyond-beef/.
  2. The ImpossibleTMBurger: Made from Plants. (2020). Impossible Foods. https://impossiblefoods.com/ca/burger/
  3. Plant-Based Ground. (2020). Lightlife. https://lightlife.com/en-ca/product/plant-based-ground/
  4. The Very Good Burger. (2020). The Very Good Butchers. https://www.verygoodbutchers.com/products/the-very-good-burger

 



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