Consumer Reports

Meat Lovers' Guide To Plant-Based Meats

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Head to the meat section of your supermarket and you might have a hard time finding meat! That’s not because of any supply chain issues, but rather because more space is being given to a growing variety of plant-based meats. You might be wondering: Are those things any good? Consumer Reports analyzed 32 faux burgers, nuggets, filets, and sausages for taste and nutrition.

As more people try to get more veggies and less meat on their plates, these faux meats may end up on the grill. But do they taste any good?

CR’s panel of tasters thought none were identical to real meat, but some came close. We found at least one in each category to be very good.

CR’s panelists found the Impossible and Beyond brands to be the most meatlike among the burgers. Impossible’s Chicken Nuggets came the closest to tasting like a typical chicken nugget.

Many people might be considering switching to eating plant-based meats because they think it’s healthier. Is that true?

While many of the products CR tested had fewer calories and less artery-clogging saturated fat, most had more sodium than real meat. And Americans already consume too much sodium.

A closer look at the ingredients will reveal that even though these foods are plant-based, they are still ultra-processed.

The evidence supporting plant-based diets points to eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, tofu, and beans. These mock meats are more processed and are not whole foods.

Many of these plant-based meats also come with claims that they are better for the environment. While that may be true, CR points out that eating grass-fed animals raised on sustainable farms may also be beneficial for the environment.

The bottom line is these plant-based meats are a mixed bag. While they aren’t the healthiest of foods, they can be a good thing if you are having trouble giving up red meat.

Of course, if you’re swapping out meat with faux meat as a health move, consider swapping the fries for a salad as well.

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