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When it comes to meat alternatives, you generally want to pick the product with the least amount of additives. Food additives are any ingredients added to foods to enhance components like freshness, color, nutritional value, flavor, texture of appearance.
While some additives are not necessarily unhealthy intrinsically-- think salt, sugar, vinegar, spices, baking soda, and vitamins and minerals-- others aren't so harmless. The additives we wants to avoid are highly processed: artificial colors, fat replacers, sugar substitutes, dough strengtheners, and preservatives.
It's also good to look for products free of common allergens like gluten, soy, corn, and nuts. On top of being allergens, these ingredients also aren't very nutritionally dense.
Look for ingredients that you can pronounce and are familiar with. This usually means the ingredient is a whole food- millet, sweet potato, and leafy greens make up some of the best reviewed veggie burgers on the market.
Veggie burgers are a great meat substitute because they aren't a meat substitute. Confusing? Bear with me.
Because veggie burgers do not try to mimic meat, they require far less filler and chemical substitutes. They're simply veggie, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Meatless burger substitutes like Beyond Burger have an ingredient list that looks like this: water, pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavors, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, pomegranate extract, salt, potassium chloride, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sunflower lecithin, and beet juice extract.
While beyond burgers are vegan and plant-based, they aren't exactly healthy. In an effort to mimic meat, they fail to provide the nutritional value of a beef OR veggie burger. Instead, the ingredients are highly processed proteins isolated from plants.
Bottom line? You're better off just eating veggies (or grabbing a delicious bottle of Living Juice cold pressed juice).