PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — From sit-down restaurants to fast-food chains, even some convenience stores, a lot of places are now selling meatless burgers.
Many people are jumping on the bandwagon, ditching beef patties for what they think is something healthier.
But is it?
When a doctor told Austin Toy his blood sugar was too high, he decided to go plant-based for health reasons.
“I lost about 80 pounds, just eating healthier and better foods and working out,” he said.
Among the foods he tried — the Impossible Whopper.
“I expected it to be completely different than the actual Whopper, but it’s actually not,” Toy said.
Veggie burgers have been around for decades, like Morning Star.
“Water, carrot, onions, and like, more soy-based. So this one tastes more like vegetables,” Kelsey Hutter, AHN dietician and diabetes educator, said.
The Gardenburger, says Hutter, is “cooked brown rice and wheat.”
And the most recent arrival is the Impossible Burger, made of soy and protein powder, and a product called heme.
“Heme is abundant in animal products. It makes the meat red. And it also contributes to the iron in the meat,” Hutter said. “It did taste pretty similar, I thought, to regular meat.”
One taste tester says its flavor is like the kind of burger you’d get in a multi-pack at the grocery store.
But don’t assume the Impossible version is better for you.
It has eight grams of saturated fat in the form of coconut oil, way above the recommended three grams per serving. Also, with 300 calories in a patty, a beef burger and an Impossible Burger are comparable.
So the Impossible Burger may not be for the health conscious, but rather for the environmentally conscious.
“Sustainability, they’re worried about greenhouse gas emissions from cows,” says Hutter.
In contrast, veggie burgers have only one and a half grams of fat and 110 calories. For weight loss, and heart health, she’d go with a Gardenburger.
“If you are gluten-free or if you have soy allergies, you’re going to have to find something that’s an alternative,” Hutter said.
A hurdle for some people is the cost.
“If they can get beef for $1 to $2 a pound, compared to a Gardenburger; Impossible Burger, that’s gonna cost them for a box, maybe $6, $7, they’re gonna go with the beef,” Hutter said.
There’s also the matter of taste.
“Taste speaks a thousand words. So if you provide a sample, that’s really helpful for our patients to say, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t realize something could taste this good and be healthy,’” she adds.
Toy says he likes the taste and isn’t put off by the cost.
“Like a dollar more than a regular Whopper. It’s not too expensive, so it’s worth a try,” he said.