Plant-based meat products have become ultra-popular in recent years, with many of the standard fast food places now offering a vegan meat option. Thanks to brands like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, chains like Burger King and White Castle can cater towards a meatless audience. Unfortunately, not every plant-based patty is going to be a healthy substitute.
Here’s what you should look for when considering which faux meat to give your young athletes.
Just Because a Burger Is Meatless Doesn’t Make It Healthy
Plant-based meat substitutes are surprisingly often not the healthiest choice for kids: they can be packed with artificial flavors, chemical preservatives, and high amounts of fat and sodium. And some don’t contain much protein, the primary macronutrient found in meat. For example, a plant-based burger from Burger King actually contains similar saturated fats to the traditional Whopper but adds more sodium!
While some research has shown that a diet based around meat is less healthy than a plant-based diet, the plant-based diet in that research is centered around legumes rather than modified plant proteins like those found in burger substitutes. Also remember that while your child’s burger is plant-based, the fries and soft drink that often accompany it at fast food places are far from ‘health conscious’ options.