Is The Beyond Burger Healthy for You?

A new generation of plant-based products are taking veggie burgers to a whole new level. This week, a look at the Beyond Burger and how it compares with beef and other meat-free options.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #473

The Impossible Burger is about 25% higher in protein. But there are also some important differences in where the protein comes from. The Impossible Burger gets its protein from wheat and potato. It also contains a small amount of soy. The Beyond Burger, on the other hand, is made from pea protein. For those who are sensitive to wheat and/or soy, the advantage clearly goes to the Beyond Burger.

However, pea protein can have different consequences. It’s somewhat notorious for producing a lot of gas, particularly if you’re not used to eating it. So, you might not want to try the Beyond Burger for the first time when on a first date.

How Do They Compare in Taste? 

Both of these products do a great job mimicking the appearance and texture of real ground beef. In terms of flavor, this is a subjective judgment but I think the Impossible Burger comes much closer to the taste of beef, probably due to the heme iron.

For those who are sensitive to wheat and/or soy, the advantage clearly goes to the Beyond Burger. However, pea protein can have different consequences.

Although the Beyond Burger doesn’t taste beany in any way, I found it a little more bland than the Impossible Burger. But I would find either one of these perfectly enjoyable at a backyard barbecue or burger joint.

At the time of this writing, the Beyond Burger is the only one that’s available in your local grocery store. The Impossible Burger is only available in restaurants.

Is Fake Meat Too Processed to be Healthy?

As Kate alluded to in her question, neither of these products could be considered a minimally processed food. A lot of manipulation has gone into transforming peas and potatoes into something that looks and tastes an awful lot like a hamburger.

The Impossible Burger gets credit for having a slightly shorter and somewhat more recognizable ingredient list. But if your goal is to eat more whole and minimally-processed foods, both of these burgers would probably belong in the category of something that you’d enjoy occasionally but not as a daily staple.

See also: Is Halo-Top Ice Cream Too Processed to Be Healthy?

On the other hand, if your goal is to eat less meat and more plant-based protein, you might decide that more has been gained than lost here. I don't think all processed foods can be lumped into the same nefarious category. Processing can strip away nutrients, and it's often used to turn cheap ingredients into hyper-palatable junk food. But processing can also sometimes improve the nutritional profile of a food or serve other noble purposes, such as reducing food waste or, in this case, reducing beef consumption. 

What's your take? Have you tried the Beyond Burger? Do beefless burgers have a place in your diet? Why or why not? Post your thoughts below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.

Image of Beyond Burger © Beyond Meat website


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.