Beyond Meat has taken the plant-based food market by storm, offering sausages, burgers, ground meats, chicken, and more – all made from plants. As a Registered Dietitian, I am delighted that more plant-based products are coming to the market, and I think it’s important to acknowledge the benefits that these products have over their animal-based counterparts; these products offer an alternative to animal-based protein sources, which often require extensive resources to produce and inevitably carry with them issues regarding animal cruelty and slaughter. Canada’s Food Guide recognizes that regularly including plant-based foods can have a positive impact on the environment (1), so I think finding ways to include more plant-based options into your meals is a great place to start.
However, Beyond Meat products also claim to be healthier, more wholesome alternatives to traditional animal-based proteins. While these products are made from plants, which in their whole form are certainly a healthy addition to any diet, it’s important to remember that Beyond Meat products are highly processed. Beyond Meat products do deliver similar amounts of protein and iron compared to animal-based proteins, however, they also contain around the same amount of saturated fat and considerably more sodium than many animal-based products. (2) It is recommended that you limit your intake of saturated fat and sodium, as higher intakes can contribute to heart disease risk. (3,4)
We do not yet have research directly comparing Beyond Meat products to animal-based proteins, however, we generally recommend that people limit their intake of processed foods and red meats, and instead focus on getting their protein from whole, plant-based sources, such as lentils, beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds; lean cuts of meat; or seafood. These protein choices are often much lower in sodium and saturated fat, and plant-based proteins have the extra benefit of providing dietary fibre.
So, whether you are enjoying beef burgers or Beyond Meat burgers, try limiting them to 1-2 times per week, and focus on regularly including whole, plant-based and/or lean animal-based protein sources into your diet.
If you are interested in including more plant-based choices, or transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet, speak to a Registered Dietitian. Nutrition Assessment Clinic can help you to find a way of eating that gives your body everything it needs.
- Canada’s food guide. (2019). Healthy eating and the environment. Retrieved from https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/healthy-eating-and-the-environment/
- Beyond Meat. (n.d.). Beyond Burger. Retrieved from https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/the-beyond-burger/
- Canada’s food guide. (2019). Choose foods with healthy fats. Retrieved from https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/choosing-foods-with-healthy-fats/
- Health Canada. (2013). Sodium: the basics. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/sodium/sodium-basics.html
Author: Mikaela Horton, MHSc(c), RD for nutritionassessment.com