Is plant-based, highly processed “meat” healthier than animal meat?
The popularity of plant-based burgers is astonishing, as is the taste and texture of many of the brands out there. OMG, some of them really do taste like the real thing. And, in general, plant-based foods are healthier than animal-based ones. But plant “meats” are manufactured, processed products – and, in general, foods are healthier when they’re not highly processed. So what’s the verdict?
A recent study (1) found that after 8 weeks, people who ate plant-based alternative meats had lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower levels of chemicals in the blood that may indicate a higher risk for cancer. I’ve written before about how plant proteins are, for the most part, healthier for our bodies (2) and our planet. So despite the processing, I’d say the advantage goes, once again, to the plants.
My Final Answer: Despite the processing, plant-based meat alternatives appear to be healthier than animal meat. But for the best non-meat non-processed burger in the whole wide world, try my black bean portabella mushroom burger. If I say so myself, it’s divine.
(1)Crimarco A et al. A randomized crossover trial on the effect of plant-based compared with animal-based meat on trimethylamine-N-oxide and cardiovascular disease risk factors in generally healthy adults: Study With Appetizing Plantfood-Meat Eating Alternative Trial (SWAP-MEAT). Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Nov 11;112(5):1188-1199. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa203. PMID: 32780794; PMCID: PMC7657338.
(2)Song M et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1453-1463. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182