Move over veggie burgers… there's a new, meaty-tasting alternative hitting the market. But, are they good enough to rival chicken and beef?
Caitlin Young says she eats anything from chicken, to ground turkey, to beef and fish. But, she was thrilled when new veggie proteins hit the market that never made her think, "Where's the beef?"
"The new protein alternative gives me a nice balance and something new and different," she said.
Brands are popping up in stores and even restaurants. And these aren't your Mama's veggie burgers. One brand uses beets to stimulate the red appearance of beef. Another brand harnessed the iron found in meat to replace the unique sizzle, smell, and taste predominantly found in animal protein.
Young sees the difference in her burgers, "the more traditional veggie burgers tend to be a little flat, a little dry. They don't tend to have as much flavor."
Food analyst Jeff Landsman stresses both millennial students and boomers are fueling the trend, and that it’s not just carnivores trying the new mock meats.
"One of the great things about this product is that vegetarians can experience meat burgers without having to give up their vegetarian beliefs," he said.
There is also a chicken option that fans say won't have you crying foul. Nutritionist Alyssa Cellini said while some of the new plant proteins contain soy and wheat, it's another protein that's popping.
She explains that they tend to have less saturated fat than many traditional meats, and tend to be GMO, cholesterol, and gluten free.
"It doesn't come with the sensitivities that the formerly gluten-filled had," she says. "And they tend to have less preservatives and dyes in them."
Cellini says to look for options with less carbs and more protein.
Young said she won't give up traditional patties altogether, but will gladly devour the imposters, too.
Proponents say eating more alternative proteins may also be better for the environment. Research shows animal-based proteins could mean fewer emissions and reduced greenhouse gases.