Plant-Based Meat Alternatives: A Breakdown of the Differences Between the Most Popular Options
The founders of two California-based companies—Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger—didn't aim to create just another veggie burger. Generally, veggie burgers are made with a combination of soy products and finely diced vegetables such as carrots or mushrooms, grains, and legumes. While they are a good alternative to meat burgers, they certainly don't taste or look like the real deal. Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger disrupted the industry by creating a product that was not only vegan, but also tasted and looked like a real burger made from red meat.
Another difference between these more modern meat alternatives and their predecessors is that Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger were both created in labs and have drawn criticism over regulation practices and labeling (the U.S. Cattlemen's Association has petitioned for the government to ban these companies from using the terms "meat" and "beef" entirely). However, the alt-meat trend shows no signs of slowing down—and to be honest, we're thrilled, seeing as beef is one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. (BTW, if cows were a country, they'd be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.) Some of the biggest meat producers in the country are jumping on board, including Tyson Foods, and you can now find veggie burgers on the menus of nearly every fast food chain.
With so many alternative meat options on the market, we wanted to break down the most common products you'll find in grocery stores and restaurants. And if you're considering a more plant-based diet, kudos! Find our guides to the healthiest plant-based foods, plant-based food substitutions you'll love cooking with, vegan recipes, and the most common plant-based diet mistakes here.