The Impossible Burger? The cure for burgers?

We’ve seen the rise in the popularity of plant-based burgers like the Impossible Burger. I was at my local convenience store and even noticed they’ve added an option in their lunch menu. What’s the deal with this burger? Is it safe for consumption? Here’s my take.

The health and nutrition community has discussed plant-based burgers for a while now. Some comments are based on hard science. Others have been wildly overblown.

What are the facts?

The “plant” part of plant-based protein refers to soy. So if you were thinking a manufacturer miraculously made meat out of broccoli or carrots, think again.

Yes! Generally, plant-based protein sources have a healthier nutrient profile than animal-based protein sources. Plant-based sources of protein like soy are lower in fat and provide more of some essential vitamins and minerals than animal products.

No! Soy or the significant components of soy protein, phytoestrogens, and isoflavones, do not cause cancer. Also, soy does not affect male fertility if consumed in regular quantities. The one case of a guy growing breast tissue was because he drank like 3 quarts of soy milk a day. Who does that? However, if we eat the average quantities of food, it’s not a problem.

What’s the problem then?

To make plant-based protein tasty for the average westerner, the manufacturer must combine it with GMOs and sodium. To me, that throws just about all the nutritional benefits and maybe some of the environmental value out the window.

Also, are all animal sources of protein equally bad? I don’t think so. Yes, it’s been established that beef-sourcing the way we do it is terrible for the environment, but does it always have to be beef for our burgers? What about bison? Or chicken? Or goat?

As I said above, to make soy-protein into a tasty burger patty, we need to add GMOs to it. For example, heme generated from genetically modified yeast. In my book, telling me that because it’s from a naturally occurring organism like yeast, it’s natural, is to say Frankenstein’s Monster is a genuine man because Dr. Frankenstein constructed it from parts of other men.

I’m okay sticking to mostly animal sources for my burgers because it hasn’t been proven conclusively that the plant-based option is better. It’s still too new of a product, and humans have eaten animals for thousands of years. We just need to make smarter choices for our animal-based food sources.

Based on the USDA Food Data website, here is a comparison between beef, bison, and impossible burger patties:

Impossible Burger (100g)Beef Burger (100g)Bison Burger (100g)
Calories: 261
Total Fat: 14g 
Saturated Fat: 8g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 370mg 
Total Carbs: 26.7g
Dietary Fiber: 1g 
Total Sugars: 5.6gProtein: 14.9g
Calcium: 76mg
Iron: 2.87mg
Potassium: 217mg
Thiamin(Vit. B1): 0.334mg
Vitamin B12: 3.1mcg
Zinc: 2.38mg
Calories: 260
Total Fat: 16.8g
Saturated Fat: 6g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 87mg
Sodium: 397mg
Total Carbs: 0g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Total Sugars: 0g
Protein: 25.5g
Calcium: 24mg
Iron: 2.47mg
Potassium: 302mg
Thiamin(Vit. B1): 0.049mg
Vitamin B12: 2.7mcg
Zinc: 6.2mg
Calories: 179
Total Fat: 8.62g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 94mg
Sodium: 76mg
Total Carbs: 0g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Total Sugars: 0g
Protein: 25.4g
Calcium: 14mg
Iron: 3.19mg
Potassium: 353mg
Thiamin (Vit. B1): 0.139mg
Vitamin B12: 2.44mcgZinc: 5.34mg
Soy/Beef/Bison Comparison

So we can see in many significant areas such as fat, sodium content, calories, and protein, that a more environmentally friendly animal protein source like bison wins the day. The vitamin and mineral profile also does not look bad in comparison. 

And so…

If a food is easily recognizable in its pre-cooked form, I’m for it eating it.

I will give plant-based burgers a lot more time on the market and under scientific scrutiny before I jump on the bandwagon. 

For now, give me a home where the buffalo roam, and I can get some in a bun on my plate.

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