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Personal proof that veggie burgers aren't totally healthy

Or totally tasty, for that matter.

Four years ago, I blogged about the Genetic Literacy Project touting the wonders of the Impossible Burger, and how healthy it supposedly is.

And now, I have the personal angle.

Courtesy of Donald J. Trump's presidential trade war with China, Tarrant Area Food Bank has been coming beyond Greater Fort Worth to my small burg on a monthly basis since shortly after the start of COVID, and with "flexible" income eligibility. 

Anyway, in the last two months, I've gotten a set of four Greek-made (no, really) veggie burgers and Kraft's Fake Cheddar cheese slices.

So, with smartphone photos at hand, let's talk and compare, first the veggie burger, then the fake cheese.


First, note near the bottom, that whopping amount of sodium. A veggie burger is as unhealthy as a frozen pizza there. A quarter-pounder, actual beef? 76 grams. Sodium in general, and sodium chloride in particular, is used to camouflage either bad flavor or no flavor, or else to goose pretend but not actual spiciness. (Look at your nacho cheese tortilla chips vs plain.)

Related? While the quarter-pounder has more overall fat (the veggie burger was actually 3 3/4 oz, not 4) and thus a few more calories, less than half of the fat on it is saturated, and in fact, it also has as much of the good MONOunsaturated fat as polyunsaturated. Interestingly, it has a little bit of bad trans fat. (The link is to an 80 percent lean level of beef.)

While I'm here? The ingredients? TVP, as it's known in the food biz, presumably mainly from soy, but with added straight up soy protein. I've had a black bean burger more than once, and in years past, occasionally made a 50-50 meat loaf, using the dehydrated black bean stew mix that Central Market used to sell. (It's more hit and miss now, it's pricier, and I've not bought beef in geez, 3 or 4 years.) Anyway, the taste is "off," per what I said above about salt as an attempt at camouflage. 

Pass on this (and other veggie burgers that are similar), on flavor and otherwise. Want to eat less meat? Eat less fake meat products that, per Michael Pollan, are themselves processed foods.

Now, the fake Kraft, since I had this, and made my fake burger a fake cheeseburger instead of a fake hamburger.

I'm going to jump on flavor first, then we'll drop a picture of real Tillamook Cheddar below and compare nutrition profiles.

The flavor? Not that close to mild Cheddar and not at all close to medium Cheddar. Not in the same universe as something like Tillamook sharp. It IS Kraft, for whom the entire cheese world is generic, neutered versions of whatever type of cheese it claims to be peddling.

Related? In my microslave, it seemed  to want to take longer to melt than real cheese, same 4/5 ounce slice would. Mouthfeel was similar but not exactly the same.


Skipping down after I type in some lorem ipsum type placeholders.

So that we have:

Tillamook extra sharp Cheddar, an 8-ounce brick. Its serving size is 1 ounce, so I'll multiply the fake cheese by 25 percent.

Calories then are 95 vs. 120. Fake is a winner, but if you're weight watching, you need to do more than this. Fat is now 6.5 vs 10. However, all the fat in the fake cheese is saturated. See above.

Sodium is now 235 mg vs 200. Even on something with naturally high sodium levels like cheese, the fake cheese is WORSE!

Finally, environmental issues.

The veggie burger is surely somewhat better than Big Ag feedlot-raised methane-farting and belching cows. But, it's not THAT much better. Note coconut fat among ingredients. Anything using coconut or palm fat or oil is suspect for promoting plantation agriculture and its own environmental destructiveness. Plus, it takes a non-insignificant amount of electricity to process this and other processed foods. Unless that all comes from renewable electricity, that's an issue. Finally, this veggie burger is made in Greece. Takes a few tons/tonnes of marine diesel to ship it to the US of A.

The fake cheese? Coconut oil is the base. See above. It's processed. See above.

You know what's healthier and tastier than a veggie burger? My homemade black bean stew, below. (This version with whole black beans, not Central Market's dehydrate, and it is vegetarian.)

Or (semi-) vegetarian chili. Or my rice and lentils with curry sauce, often goosed with ancho chiles in winter.

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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Personal proof that veggie burgers aren't totally healthy


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