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Is the Vegan Impossible Burger Healthy for You?

These juicy plant-based burgers could fool even a meat lover. But are they actually healthier for us?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
3-minute read
Episode #469

So, ironically, if you’re avoiding red meat because of its association with increased cancer risk, it’s possible that this meatless burger may present similar concerns. Keep in mind, however, that these worrisome associations between red meat and cancer are seen in those who eat red meat once or twice a day. Those who eat red meat just once a week have approximately the same risk as those who never eat meat. 

How Does the Impossible Burger Compare to Regular Burgers?

Nutritionally speaking, the Impossible Burger has been formulated to approximate the nutritional profile of 80% lean ground beef—for better or worse. It contains a similar amount of protein and calories. It’s a bit lower in total fat but actually significantly higher in saturated fat. That's because unlike beef, which contains a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats, coconut oil is virtually all saturated. So, if you avoid beef burgers in an effort to moderate your saturated fat intake, you might be better off with a turkey or bison burger. 

Compared with cattle farming, the Impossible Burger uses far less land, water, and produces less greenhouse gas emissions.

If your main motivation in avoiding beef is out of concern for the welfare of the cows or perhaps the impact of cattle farming on the environment or climate—but you love the taste of red meat—then this might be a great solution for you. Compared with cattle farming, the Impossible Burger uses far less land, water, and produces less greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bottom Line on the Impossible Burger

As you can see, there are a lot of different reasons that people choose to avoid meat or red meat. I don’t think this will be the ideal alternative for everyone. If you’re sensitive to soy or wheat, for example, this is not for you. And if you find the taste, texture, and appearance of meat disgusting, this is definitely not for you. But it is a pretty impressive feat of culinary engineering. We seem to be getting closer to being able to produce meat without any animals. Whether this ends up being an upgrade for us nutritionally we’ll have to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.  

Curious? Right now, the Impossible Burger is only available in restaurants, not in retail or direct to consumers. You can check the company’s website to see if there’s a restaurant in your area. If you try it, I’d love to hear what you thought! And if you’re not interested in trying it, for whatever reason, I’d like to hear from you, too!

Share your thoughts below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.

Image of Impossible Burgers from ImpossibleFoods.com

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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.