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What You Need to Know About Plant-Based Meats: An Interview with Sara Keough, MS, CNS, LDN

Roberta Louis: How do today’s plant-based meats differ from the veggie burgers of the past, which have been sold in health food stores for decades?

Sara Keough: The veggie burgers of the past mostly utilized vegetables and beans with some spices, herbs, and seasonings added. They were basically made from whole foods that underwent very minimal processing. In contrast, the leading plant-based meats on the market, which primarily include the brands Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, consist largely of ultra-processed ingredients. They contain compounds such as soy protein isolates or pea protein isolates, which are often stripped out of the whole foods through the use of hexane or other harmful chemicals.

These modern plant-based meats are so highly processed that they no longer resemble whole foods. In fact, they barely even support the word plant. They are more like Frankenfood products that have been created in a lab – especially in the case of the Impossible Foods products, because these include novel ingredients such as genetically engineered soy leghemoglobin, which we’ll talk about later.