Is the “Beyond Burger” Beyond Reproach?

Can this plant-based miracle meat-imitator be for real? We asked an expert.

If it looks like a hamburger, smells like a hamburger and tastes like a hamburger, then it must be a burger, right? Not if you’ve just bitten into the latest food trend sweeping the nation—the Beyond Burger. Burger alternatives are nothing new. The freezer section is chock full of veggie burgers, bean burgers, soy burgers and even quinoa burgers to satisfy those seeking a meatless alternative.

However, I think it’s safe to say that none of these options ever purported to perfectly mimic the organoleptic properties of a true burger until the Beyond Burger hit store shelves.  The company promotes itself as “the future of protein” by providing a burger that “looks, cooks and satisfies like beef without GMO’s, soy or gluten.” The Beyond Burger packs in nearly as much protein per serving as a beef burger, but is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

However, the Beyond Burger is far from plant-based and contains a number of highly processed ingredients that come with their own health concerns. In addition, when it comes to fat and calories, the Beyond Burger stacks up similarly to a beef burger at 250 calories per 40z and 18g fat, calling into question the actual health benefits going meatless really provides. That said, as concerns about the environmental impact of a food system heavily reliant on animal protein continue to increase, the Beyond Burger could be a good alternative for those die-hard carnivores seeking to reduce their carbon footprint without giving up the taste and texture of their beef burger.

If you’re an athlete curious about switching to a plant-based diet (or looking for some pro tips about how to eat well on one while training) be sure to check out Plant Powered by nutritionist and marathoner Jamie Sheahan. 

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