Veganism and plant-based diets have become a popular trend in recent years. Whether you are trying to go vegan or vegetarian, or you are just trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, finding alternatives for meat that taste good and provide enough protein and other nutrients can involve a little trial and error.
Meatless options have come a long way from just plain veggie or tofu burgers. There are now many options available that are easy to find—some even mimic the taste of real meat. The two most popular meatless products right now are the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, which both taste the closest to real beef than any of their predecessor veggie burgers. There are differences between these two meat alternatives, as well as other options, so read on to learn more about tasty ways you can go meatless.
Tofu has been a staple of vegetarian diets for decades, as well as a foundation of Asian cuisine. Tofu is made from curdled soybeans. On its own, tofu lacks flavor, but when added to other foods, it will take on the flavors of other ingredients in the dish.
Tofu can be grilled, baked, or fried and can be used with various sauces, grains, and vegetables. It is great for stir-fry or as a replacement for eggs or cheese in some recipes.
Tempeh gets easily confused with tofu, but it is not the same. Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans and is a complete protein and high in calcium. The fermentation process is also beneficial for gut bacteria, and tempeh is high in fiber, which also helps regulate digestion. Tempeh can be used as a meat substitute in sandwiches, salads, or cooked in a pan.
Unlike tofu and tempeh, seitan is not soy-based, but rather made from wheat gluten. It is high in protein and is a good alternative for people with soy allergies or those who cannot eat soy-based products for other health reasons. The only downside to seitan is that it is not considered a complete protein, so it needs to be paired with others protein sources like beans or lentils. Seitan is a good choice for sandwiches or as a pizza topping, and it can be found in store-bought products such as meatless sausages or jerky. Just be mindful of reading labels as some seitan products can contain a lot of preservatives and sodium.
Products made with pea protein are some of the newest foods on the market that you’ve probably been hearing a lot about. Products like Beyond Meat (e.g., Beyond Burgers, Smart Dogs, etc.) are popular products sold in many grocery stores.
These meat alternatives are some of the closest to real meat as far as taste and texture, and many fans claim it tastes just like ground beef. Pea protein products are gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and packed with protein. However, some products are highly processed and contain food coloring and other additives, so it should not be eaten as a daily meat substitute, but indulging in a Beyond Burger once or twice a week is fine.
The Impossible Burger vs. Beyond Burger
Currently, the top meatless products on the market are the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. Both taste almost like a real burger and have become popular due to their similarity in taste and texture to real beef. Both products are completely vegan, containing no animal products or by-products.
However, there are some differences between the two. Impossible Meat is a soy-based product while Beyond Meat is made from pea protein. Other than their main protein base, the two products’ other ingredients are pretty similar. The Beyond Burger does have a red color, similar to real beef, that comes from beet extract, while the Impossible Burger’s red tint gets its color from the heme from the leghemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying hemeprotein, found in root nodules of leguminous plants and which turns the older root nodule a pink or reddish color).
The Impossible Burger is made from mostly organic ingredients while the Beyond Burger is not. Beyond Meat makes more than just burgers, including sausage and meat crumbles. Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat can be substituted for ground beef in most recipes.
Impossible Burgers are now available at many popular restaurant chains including Burger King, Red Robin, Q’doba, and White Castle and can be bought in many grocery stores. Beyond Meat can be found at many national grocery store chains as well as at Carl’s Jr., TGI Friday’s, and Del Taco.
So which is better? The Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger? You may need to try both to see which you prefer. It should be noted that all Impossible Burgers and Beyond Burgers are not going to be identical, as each restaurant will prepare their meatless burgers differently.