Beyond Meat is one of the most popular plant-based companies to hit the market in recent years. With the rise in popularity of plant-based diets, vegans and vegetarians now have more options than ever to indulge in some of the favourites like burgers, nuggets and breakfast sandwiches.
However, their hype has significantly outweighed some of the downsides, and it’s important to know the full story before stocking your freezer the next time a sale hits.
5 important things to know about Beyond Meat products before you buy and eat them:
1. It is higher in Omega-6 fatty acids
It is important that we balance our omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to reduce inflammation. Generally, we are a society that consumes more omega-6 on a regular basis, particularly through our consumption of vegetable oils, lack of quality, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats.
If you are something who already consumes a lot of fried or processed foods, adding in the Beyond Meat burger isn’t exactly the “healthiest choice”
Consuming the Beyond Meat burger on occasion is okay, but remember: processed food is processed food, no matter how “animal-free” it is.
Just because it is plant-based, gluten and soy-free, doesn’t actually make it any healthier than a homemade patty that uses ground meat, or a homemade chickpea patty. My end goal with clients is to help them choose whole, single-ingredient foods for the most part. Including the Beyond Meat burger every so often can still be part of a healthy diet, just don’t make it a weekly occurrence.
3. Pea protein can cause digestive upset for some people
News flash: no singular diet is perfect for everyone. Unfortunately for many people dealing with IBS or gastrointestinal issues, pea protein (along with a lot of the other ingredients listed in the burger), can cause a flare-up.
That said, not everyone with GI issues will have digestive upset from these ingredients. Generally, if these ingredients don’t already cause a flare-up, you may be safe.
4. It is a good alternative if you are looking to reduce your meat intake
In general, many of us can stand to reduce our animal protein consumption, particularly if you consume conventionally-raised meats.
However, if you are choosing this plant-based option because of the health stats you’ve heard from the latest popular Netflix documentary, do your research. Many articles cited compare a plant-based diet to what is called the “Standard North American Diet”, meaning conventionally raised meats, processed foods, take-out, GMO, non-organic, and general overconsumption of these foods. If you focus more on organic foods, small amounts of grass-fed, free-range meats, game meat, and lots of fruits and vegetables, this data can look a lot different.
5. It is eco-friendly!
There are many ways that you can support the environment, and yes, decreasing conventional meat consumption is one of them! If you are going plant-based, or eating less conventional meat for this reason, I encourage you to focus on more whole-food options like beans and legumes, tempeh, or nuts and seeds, more often than processed protein options like burgers or “fake meats”.
If you can’t go without your animal protein, you can also support environmental efforts by purchasing meat and eggs that are raised locally, by SPCA approved farms, biodynamic farms, or from your local farmers market. Avoid large cattle or poultry farms that focus on quantity, rather than quality, and have to ship the animals long distances for slaughter, cleaning, butchering, etc.
Moral of the story?
The whole point of the Beyond Meat burger is to make plant-based eating more accessible to the public, which is AWESOME in my books! I advocate eating more plants everyday in my practice, so if this is the first step, I proudly support you.
So if you’re heading through the A&W drive through and have a hankering for some chicken nuggets, try out the Beyond Meat version, but maybe don’t purchase a full package of burgers for your home.