Faux meat crumbles, #FTW.
By Emily Abbate
I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater. With the exception of the occasional overflowing charcuterie board and sporadic splurge, I eat a diet heavy in vegetables and try to stay away from one-too-many carbs on the regular. Still, I decided to give veganism a go last month-you know, in the name of journalism. And although I learned loads of things, like that nearly three-quarters of Americans don’t manage to eat enough fruit and that non-dairy yogurt is a thing, one thing stuck with me majorly: There are a lot of delicious plant-based protein alternatives out there. Like, a lot.
Weeks after my vegan experiment was over, I found myself back in the aisles at Whole Foods, still hankering for new meat alternatives. Not because I’ve sworn off the stuff entirely, but more because I’m into how this type of diet makes me feel (basically, less bloated).
Here, you’ll find honest reviews of meat alternatives that I found on my quest, ranging from faux meatballs to meat crumbles, complete with a nutritional analysis from Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness.
Before you jump on in, one note of caution: Meat alternatives are typically made using plants, peas, and soy protein. While these are all safe options, you’ll want to make sure not to overdo it.
“Some soy is okay, but if you are eating a lot of these ‘fake meat’ products, you could be overconsuming soy and falling short on other nutrients,” says Rumsey. “Soy should not be your only source of protein. Good whole-food, plant-based sources of protein include pulses-which include beans, peas, and lentils-as well as nuts and seeds and some grains like quinoa.”
Ready to dive on in? Here are six of the best meat alternatives:
Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
Serving size: 1 patty
Fat: 22 grams
Protein: 20 grams
The review: The Beyond Meat Beyond Burger blew me away from the second I took it out of the packaging. Sold in your grocery store’s refrigerator section, this patty looks like it’s made of meat. As in, it’s thick like a meat burger and really has some weight to it. Same goes for the taste. Top this burger with lettuce, tomato, and a little special sauce (my favorite is Just Mayo’s Awesomesauce, which is also gluten- and egg-free) and even a carnivore may fall for this simple swap.
The nutritionist weighs in: “I like that it has 20 grams of protein per burger, as many veggie burgers fall short on protein, but it’s borderline high on sodium, with about 20 percent of the daily max. Also worth noting: It has pea protein, which is different from many veggie burgers that use soy protein.” (Here’s everything you need to know about soy.)
Overall grade: A-
Morningstar Farms Grillers Original
Serving size: 1 patty
Fat: 6 grams
Protein: 15 grams
The review: I’ve kept Morningstar Farms Grillers in my freezer since I was in college. Not only do I like the taste, but they’re a pretty low-calorie and low-fat way to amp up the protein in any meal. Just like a burger, I’d say that the patty by itself won’t blow your taste buds out of the water, but if you make them on the grill or griddle, you’ll get a delicious crust that kicks things to a new level. If using this particular option as an entire meal, I’d suggest doubling up on patties or supplementing the burger with a slew of other add-ins, like an ear of corn, salad, and maybe even some homemade baked sweet potato fries.
The nutritionist says: “Good on the protein and…