Consumer Reports Magazine contacts vegconomist to report it has published The Meat Lovers’ Guide to Plant-Based Meat, analyzing 32 plant-based products in the categories of “beef” burgers, “chicken” nuggets and fillets, and “pork” sausages and “fish”, to reveal which plant-based products compare the most to their animal counterparts.
For the evaluation, the judges assessed on the basis of nutrition and taste. To obtain a nutrition score, CR evaluated the products based on calories, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin B12, saturated fat, and sodium, also assessing the ingredients list and penalizing those with more processed ingredients. For the sensory score, a “trained panel of sensory experts” undertook a blind tasting test, scoring the products on texture and flavor and how well they mimicked animal-based beef, chicken, pork sausage, or fish.
Which tasted most like animal meat?
None were identical, but some came close, according to the judges. In terms of the burgers, predictably, Impossible and Beyond’s were deemed to be the most meatlike. Impossible’s Chicken Nuggets were the “closest to tasting like a typical chicken nugget,” and for the sausages, Beyond Meat’s breakfast and sweet Italian sausages and MorningStar’s breakfast links were said to be “reminiscent” of the animal pork. Gardein’s fish fillets and Good Catch’s fish burgers were judged to be “somewhat fishlike”.
1. Beyond Meat
3. Impossible Burger
4. 365 Whole Foods Market
5. Dr Praegers Perfect Burger
6. Good and Gather (Target)
1. Impossible Foods
2. Quorn Nuggets
3. 365 Whole Foods Market
4. Beyond Meat
5. Jack & Annie’s
7. Raised & Rooted
1. Morningstar Veggie Chickn Strips
4. Sweet Earth
5. No Evil
1. Gardein Filets
2. Good Catch Fish Burgers
3. Sophie’s Kitchen
1. Beyond Meat Sausage Patties
2. Morningstar Farms / IncogMeato Sausage Links
3. Lightlife Breakfast Patties
4. Beyond Meat Italian links
5. Field Roast Italian Garlic & Fennel
6. Tofurky Italian
Better for health and environment?
In terms of health, there were mixed reports. While several products had fewer calories and less saturated fat, Gardein’s and Impossible’s Burger had more. “Some of these mock burgers have highly saturated coconut or palm oil,” Keating says. “That’s because they melt slowly, giving a similar mouthfeel to animal fats.”
Most importantly of all: the report questioned whether the plant-based alternatives are better for the environment, with Shanika Whitehurst, associate director of product sustainability, research, and testing at CR concluding: “Even being heavily processed,” she says, “plant meat has less of an environmental impact than industrial animal production.”