Fast food restaurants like Burger King and Carl’s Jr. are testing out plant-based “meat” – but are these actually the healthier option?
The latest chain making headlines selling products from Beyond Meat with its “Beyond Fried Chicken” is KFC. The chicken substitute is a conglomerate of ingredients including soy and pea protein, carrot fiber, rice flour, yeast extract, onion, garlic powder, and salt.
Also jumping on the plant-based trend is Subway. They’ll be testing out their Beyond Meatball Marinara sub at select locations this September. Now they’ve also teamed up with Beyond Meat and their ground beef include healthy-sounding ingredients like pea, rice and mung bean protein, coconut oil, cocoa butter, potato starch, vinegar, beet juice extract, and salt.
Fast food places are no different from other restaurants in that they need to keep on the cutting-edge of food trends to stay in business. With more people looking for ways to cut back on meat, it’s not surprising fast food restaurants are offering plant-based options. I’ve been one of them for years and have really enjoyed eating vegetarian meals every Thursday and Saturday.
Are These Dishes Healthy?
KFC is infamous for their fried chicken – this we know. So even though this new option is made from plants, it’s still deep-fried. A potato is considered healthy until it’s sliced up, deep-fried in oil, and slathered in salt. And there are health risks associated with these fried foods.
Fried food is often cooked in hydrogenated oils high in trans fats. Trans fats raise LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels. These reasons are the likely cause of study results linking fried food to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Now you may be wondering how the plant-based food measures up. Well, the amount of sodium and saturated fat in the plant-based ‘meat’ is often the same as regular beef products.
So, while it is true you’re substituting meat, which helps the environment and your personal health, you’re still eating a processed food often loaded with sodium – so I wouldn’t say they are healthy.
More Real, Whole Foods – Fewer Processed Foods
A plant-based diet is very healthy, don’t get me wrong. The focus, however, should be to focus on eating real, whole foods as often as possible. I’m not saying to completely avoid these new plant-based fast food ‘meats’, go ahead and try them. But in moderation; they are more like a treat than a healthy alternative.
You also don’t have to go all-or-nothing. You can be what is called a ‘flexitarian’ where you do still eat meat, just less of it. If you’re interested in finding out more about the vegan lifestyle click here to learn from 7 vegan celebrity Moms.