Are meatless alternatives really as healthy as you think?

Claims that meatless options are healthier aren’t always true

RJ Marquez looks into whether meatless alternative are better for you health than the real thing.
RJ Marquez looks into whether meatless alternative are better for you health than the real thing.

Over the past few years, fast food chains have started offering meatless options in their burgers. Chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Pizza Hut have all started offering “Beyond Meat” or “Impossible” products. However, claims that the meatless options are healthier aren’t always true.

There are pros and cons to eating meatless products. Below, you will find some of them, according to Lifespan, a nonprofit health system in Rhode Island:

Pros of meatless options:

  • More sustainable for the environment
  • No animals killed
  • Suitable for vegetarian or vegan eating preferences
  • More fiber in the products
  • Substituting red meat out of your diet may have a health benefit because red meat is linked to colon cancer

Cons of eating meatless options:

  • They are highly processed and there could be unknown health implications
  • There are more ingredients involved in making it, and you should read them all before eating
  • They are higher in sodium, with some burgers having 300 mg more sodium than a fresh meat burger

Overall, Lifespan concludes meatless options are neither a “health food” nor a “bad food,” and everyone should eat both in moderation. The organization also says you should choose the leanest options available if you are eating red meat and be mindful of your sodium if you are eating meatless options.

And above all else, Lifespan says there is no substitute to a diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day.

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.