I wanted to do a head-to-head comparison of some store bought mock meats to compare them to my homemade versions. I have to say, I really prefer what I make at home but I have really been wanting to see if there are any fairly nutritious options available for purchase at the market for those days I have ran out of my homemade stock. I purchased some Beyond Meat Beyond Beef Ground and Good Seed hemp seed crumbles for a taco meal. Both of these are fairly fatty items and I would not consider them health foods by any means, but they at least avoid the carcinogens we get from cooked meats (as far as I can find!). When looking for low-fat foods, we are talking about something with 5 grams of fat (or less) per serving and that is really hard to find in any store-bought vegan product that is trying to mimic meat, because the fat gives such a good mouthfeel. Adding a lot of fat, sugar and salt is standard practice for items that will sit on shelves or in the refrigerator/freezer for months. The reason this is done is because over time, you lose flavor and mouthfeel with food that sits. When you make foods fresh from scratch, the taste is much better with far less fat, sugar and salt. Another (and main) reason I encourage cooking for yourself.
These two had very different mouthfeel but I’d say the Beyond Meat won for being closest to beef while the hemp crumbles won for overall best taste, versatility and nutrition content.
- The hemp crumbles are easier to make into rolled taquitos because it is easy to mash together. In fact, I wouldn’t really say they crumble. It had a great taco taste without an additional seasoning and was lower in fat than the Beyond Meat product (10 grams per serving; 1 gram of saturated fat). It was also much less processed. We’d probably buy it again for a quick meal. The product actually comes in 2 square patties, so it would make good veggie burgers as well. The cost for us (Whole Foods) was about $2.50-$3 per patty, so about $1.50 per serving (this all depends on sale prices). Not bad for a premade protein item!
- The main drawbacks are that it is high in fat, sodium (250mg/serving), and if you are hoping to “trick” some hardcore meat eater into going vegetarian, this texture will not do that.
- The pros are that it is a much more environmentally friendly option than beef or chicken and is more nutritionally sound. As well as it being easy to store and use (very versatile).
- The Beyond Meat is a pretty tasty item. I think most of the taste comes from the fat and it has a LOT (18 grams per serving; 5 grams of saturated fat). This is no heart healthy food. It may be a good option for anyone that is not ready to give up meat in terms of the environmental impact and ethical concerns of our animal agricultural practices, but it is not much different in nutrition and I would not tout it as a health food. You can find more lean beef than this (especially grass fed). Not that I recommend that! However, as far as we (read: I) know, it does not produce the carcinogenic compounds that beef does when cooked. So maybe a small win there in terms of health. It is a better product for the environment than beef or chicken (for now, anyway-I suppose that could theoretically change if it went really large scale, but overall will remain a much better option than animal proteins). Therefore, it makes a more environmentally friendly option.
- The main drawbacks are that it is very high in fat and is pretty processed. Cost is also comparable to meat but much more costly than other plan-based proteins (such as beans and legumes). So not the best option for the budget.
- The main pros are that it is environmentally friendly, has a less likely chance of being as carcinogenic as cooked meat, and is easy to store and cooks quickly.
Have any experience cooking with these products? Drop us a line about how you use them, why you like/dislike them, and any other ideas you wish to share about going meatless!