These days, the options for meat replacements are almost endless. However, the majority of options available are clearly a substitution, often lacking in flavor or texture. For most vegans and vegetarians this isn’t a big issue. However, this can turn off meat eaters, looking for a healthier plant-based option. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are two brands with options that change this. These two brands have created vegan-friendly products that act and taste remarkably like meat products. So, how do you choose which vegan meat substitutes to buy?
In this post, we cover the primary differences between Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
Now, both the Impossible burger and the Beyond Meat burger both contain similar amounts of protein. The protein base is crucial in vegan food options as it determines the texture of the end product. However, both of these companies have very different protein bases as part of their product recipes.
Impossible Foods uses a soy protein base, which is made from processing soybeans. This can cause many of the nutrients naturally found in soybeans to disappear, so Impossible Foods also adds additional B vitamins to all their products. This protein base offers a ground beef-like texture, however it can crumble if overcooked. Soy Protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains the 9 essential amino acids your body requires. However, the big drawback of Impossible Foods is that many people are allergic to soy products.
Beyond Meat uses a pea protein base, which is made from split peas. This protein also provides a very similar texture to that of ground beef and holds together well. Pea protein has the advantage of being rich in iron, folate, vitamins B6, B2, and vitamins A, C, and K. Unfortunately though, pea protein is not quite a complete protein as it is low in methionine, however, all other amino acid levels are higher than those found in soy protein. Pea protein is hypoallergenic meaning the majority of the population can consume it with no issues.
Like with their protein bases, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat went in two different directions with the ingredient to achieve the correct coloring. Both companies offer a product that acts and looks like meat, even once cooked.
Beyond Meat opted to use beet juice to mimic the pink color of beef. This is an all-natural option that doesn’t affect the flavor and is hypoallergenic. By using natural coloring agents, Beyond Meat products have no GMO ingredients.
Impossible Foods on the other hand use soy leghemoglobin to achieve the pink color. Soy leghemoglobin is most commonly genetically engineered. It is created by fermenting yeast, combined with the soy leghemoglobin gene. The leghemoglobin is harvested and added to the products.
To replicate the fat content of a beef burger, both companies opt for coconut oil chunks throughout alongside additional oils. For flavor, both companies also use yeast extract. However, this is where similarities end.
Impossible Foods opt to use sunflower oil in conjuction with coconut oil to help with retaining moisture. Additionally, the sunflower oil helps to create a crust on the outside of the burger, or meatball so the coconut oil stays inside and replicates the juicy meat-like texture. Sunflower oil is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, it can also help to decrease cholesterol compared with other oil types.
By using expeller-pressed canola oil with a touch of sunflower oil, Beyond Foods have created plant-based meat that replicates that meat fat texture and flavor surprisingly well. As with Impossible Foods, the canola and sunflower oil help to quickly create a crust, thereby trapping the coconut oil inside. By primarily using canola oil, there is also almost no oily taste to the burger, helping the flavors shine through. Canola oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to decrease the triglycerides in your blood.
Now, even though both products are vegan, they are primarily marketed towards meat-eaters as a healthier alternative to red meat. However, both of these options have higher levels of sodium than typical beef. This means that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are not recommended as a daily protein source, instead, they should be eaten occasionally, especially if you are worried about your sodium intake.
There you have it, the primary differences between Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Have you tried either of them? Which is your favorite?