Battle of the Proteins: Beef vs. Meat-Free Substitutes - Certified Hereford Beef

Battle of the Proteins: Beef vs. Meat-Free Substitutes

Battle of the Proteins: Beef vs. Meat-Free Substitutes
Plant-based meat products are currently all the rage. Not a day goes by that you don’t see an advertisement for a new meat-free burger or a recipe touting the latest protein-filled substitute. Movements to reduce or even eliminate meat in your daily diet aren’t new and have recently been gaining in popularity, but how much of 100% beef’s nutrients can realistically be replicated with a substitute?


Let’s break it down:

Plant-Based Meats:
Plant-based meat alternatives are the hot topic lately claiming they’re as good as, or better than, pure 100% beef in both taste and texture. It’s a bold claim that has convinced many meat consumers looking for “healthier” alternatives to try these types of products, but a keen eye can see that what looks good on the surface may not be as great as it seems. Nutritional Comparison:

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!  

But, there’s only one ingredient in Certified Hereford Beef®: 100% pure beef.


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.

Other Meat-Free Protein Alternatives:
“So if plant-based meat alternatives aren’t good, what about other sources of protein?” you might ask. Let’s look at those as well.

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®.