Originally published in The Sampson Independent by Will Coggin on September 19, 2019:
The latest food fad is coming to America’s hospitals and schools.
Last month, Aramark and Sodexo, the two largest providers of food in the nation, signed deals with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, two of the fastest growing plant-based protein companies. The deals would seem to make it official that these new meat substitutes are a healthier alternative to the real thing.
Take a deeper look and you see these institutions are selling their guests short.
Remember SnackWell’s? The 90’s cookie was lauded for being a healthy cookie when nutritionists were warning people away from consuming fat. But it wasn’t so. The cookie traded its fat for an increase in carbs—sugar—to make the cookies palatable. And as nutrition research has developed, nutritionists have zeroed in on sugar as something we should watch.
Plant-based meat substitutes are the SnackWell’s of the modern era, promising consumers a health halo that doesn’t square with reality.
Impossible Food’s burger contains 370 mg of sodium and 240 calories, while Beyond Meat’s burger contains 390 mg of sodium and 250 calories. Compared to a 90 percent lean beef burger of the same size, the plant-based burgers have average almost 25 percent more calories. Their increase in sodium is more than 400 percent.
The differences go deeper. These new products fall into what is known as “ultra-processed” foods. According to the NOVA food classification system, ultra-processed foods are “formulations of ingredients, mostly of exclusive industrial use, typically created by series of industrial techniques and processes.”