Meatless fast food isn’t necessarily healthier.
The alternative meat market is booming, with plant-based fake meats that look, taste and bleed just like the real thing taking over grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Part of the appeal for diners is that eating less red meat can cut the risk of heart disease and other health risks. But nutritionists and registered dietitians say ordering a meatless burger at a chain — especially one where you can get fries with it — might not be that much better for you.
“Are they healthier as far as sodium, calories and fat content? Definitely not,” Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and bariatric program director at Lenox Hill Hospital, told MarketWatch.
MarketWatch compared the nutritional value of meatless menu items to their meaty counterparts at Burger King QSR, +0.21% , McDonald’s MCD, +0.97% , White Castle and Del Taco TACO, +2.50% . The nutritional profiles are strikingly similar, and though fast food is seen as a cheap option for eaters on the go, the meatless versions of the fast food menu items were more expensive in all cases.
At Burger King, the meatless Impossible Whopper, available at select locations, is 630 calories, compared to the regular Whopper which is 660. (The Impossible burger is made with soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil and heme, a molecule that makes it look and bleed like real meat).
Both have around the same amount of fat (34 grams of fat, and 11 grams of saturated fat for the Impossible Whopper; and 40 grams of fat, and 12 grams of saturated fat for the Whopper). The meatless version has a whopping 1,240 milligrams of sodium verses 980 for the meaty one.
“It’s almost the same amount of calories as the regular burger. The fat is