COLORADO SPRINGS — Dozens of fast food restaurants across the country are now offering plant-based protein items on their menus, giving consumers more options. News 5 looked into whether or not the alternatives are healthier than the actual animal products, and spoke with the local owner of a juice bar to get her thoughts on the products.
Nissa Buth is the owner of Ola Juice Bar in Downtown Colorado Springs, and she said she would not personally eat the meatless meat products because they are highly processed. However, she did say there are benefits to the environment for choosing those products. "I think there is nothing you can do that has a greater impact immediately than eliminate or reduce the amount of animal products you consume," said Buth.
Harvard Health reported the imitation meats do not require as much water or greenhouse gas emissions as animal products. They also published a chart, listing side-by-side the nutritional facts for both the Impossible Burgers and Beyond Beef, alongside standard lean ground beef, ground turkey, and a black bean burger. The imitation meats are close in calories to lean ground beef, while beef has higher cholesterol, and the two alternatives have more sodium. To see the full graph, visit this link.
We had Buth read through the ingredients on a Beyond Meat Sausage product we brought into Ola Juice Bar. Some of the ingredients included pea protein and coconut oil. Buth said she was impressed by how many ingredients she recognized at first glance. "I'm actually surprised. It seems that some of the products are improving a little bit, but still quite a few things I'm not sure what they are," said Buth.
Buth said the imitation meats are a good alternative for people trying to cut down or eliminate meat from their diets, but nothing beats whole foods. "Leafy greens actually have the highest per calorie amount of protein out of anything that's out there, including a big steak," said Buth.
The brands behind the products do not necessarily market themselves as being healthier, but as being more environmentally sustainable than animal products.