The plant-based meat alternative listed above contains 19 different ingredients. Beet Juice Extracts are used in an attempt to mimic beef’s color, and chemical compounds, such as Methylcellulose, traditionally used as a bulk-forming laxative, is used here as a thickener along with potato starch to mimic ground beef’s texture. You may also be surprised to know that products like fruit extracts and unexplained “natural flavors” supposedly contribute to plant-based meat substitute’s “meaty” flavoring. We don’t know about you, but no fruit tastes like a juicy grilled burger to us!
If strange ingredients aren’t enough to prove 100% beef as the clear winner in this battle, let’s discuss vitamins and minerals. Beef is packed with essential nutrients that are hard to replicate in plant-based alternatives. For example, Choline is an essential nutrient that is naturally found in beef products and is needed by your brain and nervous system to regulate mood, memory and muscle control.1 Magnesium serves to ensure your heartbeat is steady, your immune system remains strong and supports your nerve and muscle function.2 It’s then easy to see how both Choline and Magnesium are necessary for your day to day nutritional needs but neither one are rarely found in plant-based meat alternatives.
Based on the information above, beans and legumes weigh in with the closest match, however, you’d have to eat two servings to reach the same protein content as beef. Doing so may match your protein but in turn would double the calorie content. “Okay, tofu has only 80 calories per serving, so I’ll use that instead!” Yes, tofu may seem like the perfect low-calorie option on the surface, however, you’d need almost 3x the serving size to match protein content.
So maybe you’ll just eat a PB&J sandwich for dinner to get your protein content? For the same amount of protein as one 3oz serving of ground beef you’d have to eat six tablespoons of peanut butter amounting to 448 more calories and 36 more grams of fat. Grabbing a protein bar may also seem like a fast and easy swap, however, one vegan protein bar has 10x the sugar content and 30x the carbohydrates as its ground beef counterpart.
Ultimately, there’s no meat-free alternative that can pack as big of a protein-punch as beef while giving the same nutritional profile. No matter if you’re feeding just yourself or your family, it’s increasingly important to make sound decisions when choosing your protein options. What will you add to your cart during your next grocery trip? We’re betting it’s Certified Hereford Beef®.