What the beef? Figuring out what's what with meat replacements


Holy cow, or should I say holy plant — there’s a lot to choose from when you head to the meat aisle at the grocery store. With time, and as demand for niche food rises, consumers will have even more options available than ever before.

Recently, I got a little confused with all that’s in the market for not-meat and thankfully my boss called me out for thinking that the new Beyond Meat burger was made from a test tube — earth to Jessika — it’s not.

Chances are, I’m not the only one confused with all that’s out there to purchase AND what’s currently being created in a lab (yes, you read that right). So first off, I figured I’d break down the two most common burgers  — lean ground beef and a veggie burger —  by ingredients and nutritional facts.

Beef burger

Ingredients: Lean ground beef

Nutritional facts, as per Loblaws.ca packaging for a 90g serving:


Beyond meat burger

Ingredients: Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Dried Yeast, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Acetic Acid, Succinic Acid, Modified Food Starch, Annatto (for color). All ingredients from Non-GMO sources.

Nutritional facts, as per Beyondmeats.com for one, 113g patty:



To compare, the two vary on a lot, but the two things that stick out the most to me is the amount of protein and sodium.

Personally, if I’m going to eat a beef burger, I’m ok with it having a little “less protein” in order to not have almost six times less the amount of sodium as I would by eating a veggie burger.

Now, that does not mean I’m never going to eat a veggie burger. In fact, I have them here and there to try and mix up what I eat. I think it’s a good idea for everyone at some point to try different things because if you didn’t, then how would you know if you like it or not? The reality is a consumer is still supporting farmers. Somebody still has to grow the peas, beans, canola, beets, sunflowers, and potatoes that make up the veggie burger — right?

What makes me say “What the beef?” (OK, I might have said something other than beef…) and what I originally thought the Beyond Meat burger was is from “meat” grown in labs. Memphis Meats and JUST Meats are two of many companies tackling the market of lab-grown protein. To me, and probably a decent amount of other people, that gives me the chills.

Meat is a quality product, and plant-based still supports pea and bean growers…but lab meat? I can’t get over the “ick” factor.

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