The next time you’re looking in the meat section of your grocery store, you may notice more plant-based products than ever before. Some of you may scrunch up your noses at the idea of meatless meat, so Consumer Reports just did some testing for you -- analyzing 32 faux burgers, nuggets, filets, and sausages to see how they taste and how healthy they may be.
“Our panel of tasters thought none were identical to real meat, but some came close. We actually found at least one in each category to be very good,” said Consumer Reports Nutritionist Amy Keating.
Consumer Reports’ panelists found the Impossible and Beyond brands to be the most meat-like among the burgers. Impossible’s Chicken Nuggets came the closest to tasting like a typical chicken nugget.
As for faux pork, Consumer Reports’ panelists say, “Beyond Meat’s breakfast and sweet Italian sausages and MorningStar’s breakfast links were reminiscent of the real thing.”
CONSUMER REPORTS: What you need to know about plant-based meat
Many people might consider switching to plant-based meats because they think it’s healthier, so Consumer Reports wanted to know if that is true.
“While many of the products we tested had fewer calories and less artery-clogging saturated fat, most had more sodium than real meat. And Americans already consume too much sodium,” warned Keating.
She says a closer look at the ingredients will reveal that even though these foods are plant-based, they are still ultra-processed.
“The evidence supporting “plant-based” diets points to eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, tofu and beans and these mock meats are more processed and are not whole foods,” Keating explained.
Many of these plant-based meats also claim to be better for the environment. While that may be true, Consumer Reports points out that eating grass-fed animals raised on sustainable farms may also be beneficial for the environment.
As for price, you may not be saving a ton of money by buying plant-based versus meat, but Consumer Reports says, if meat prices continue to rise, certain plant-based items could be more budget-friendly in comparison.
RECIPES: Consumer Reports’ Meaty Meatless Meals
Bottom line: These plant-based meats are a mixed bag. While they aren’t the healthiest of foods, they can be a good thing if you are having trouble giving up red meat.