Meatless Burgers Are Having a Moment, But Are They Healthy?

Throwing a few burgers on the grill? Read this first!

By: Amanda Mushro


Vegan meal. Chickpea veggie burger with fresh vegetables on rustic cutting board

Photo by: istetiana


From backyard barbeques to fast-food restaurants and grocery stores, plant-based burgers are showing up on tables everywhere. And no, we're not referring to veggie burgers: These super popular burgers look, smell and taste like actual hamburgers—minus the beef. While these meatless burgers have gained popularity with vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, those looking to lighten up their meals may be wondering: Are these plant-based burgers a healthier option?

According to experts, it depends on what you mean by “healthier.”

The Pros of Meatless Burgers:

  • Eating less meat is better for the environment. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, 14.5 percent of all global, man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.

  • Eating less red meat can reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • You’ll find no cholesterol, saturated fat or carcinogens in a plant-based burger.

  • Plant-based burgers may have the same amount of protein as beef patties. However, be sure to read the labels because not all meatless patties contain the same levels of protein.

  • When it comes to taste, many people are loving the new lines of meatless burgers.

The Cons of Meatless Burgers:

  • Meatless burgers are often higher in sodium than a regular burger—sometimes five times as much.

  • The meatless burgers, as served at many chain restaurants, can often have more calories, carbs and fat than their beefy counterparts.

  • Some meatless burgers are packed with fillers and preservatives to add color and texture. Be sure to look at the ingredients—if it doesn’t grow in a garden, you probably don’t want it in your burger.

  • Meatless burgers are often more expensive in the grocery store.

  • Not all plant-based burgers are packed with veggies. Read the labels to see what you are really eating. Some are made with fillers and grains instead of vegetables.

So, should you stick to your regular burger or try the meatless one? Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Experts agree that neither choice should be a daily staple of anyone’s regular diet. If you are choosing regular beef patties, look for grass-fed options with no antibiotics or hormones. If you are chowing down on meatless burgers, read the labels first and skip the side of fries.

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