November 29, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Mock Meats

From a nutritional standpoint, what do you think of fake meats like Tofurkey or Boca [soy-based] burgers?

Seems like they are a kind of vegetarian junk food.

-- Christine (last name unknown)

Via the blog

Soy burgers, hot dogs, and turkeys are a great way to add protein to a meal while keeping excess calories, saturated fat and cholesterol at bay.

I personally love to throw in some soy beef crumbles into my chili recipe for a burst of meaty texture.

When I want to indulge in some vegan comfort food, Boca's meatless chicken nuggets hit the spot.

The main concern with these types of foods is their high sodium levels.

Remember, the more processed a food, the higher its sodium content (one exception to this rule is smoked fish, which is not processed, but simply has a high amount of salt added on.)

So, yes, it is fairly accurate to think of these foods as "vegetarian junk food" in the sense that they should not be daily staples. There are far more nutritious choices out there.

Granted, not all mock meat offerings are very high in sodium.

One Boca Burger patty, for instance, contains 280 milligrams and just 70 calories.

If you are enjoying it with some steamed broccoli and a baked potato, the entire meal should not surpass the 450 or 500 milligram mark.

Other brands, however, can offer as much as 450 or 500 milligrams of sodium in just one patty.

As always, be sure to check the label. You want to choose varieties offering no more than 300 milligrams of sodium.

It is also worth pointing out that many "fauxburgers" are made from a mix of soy and wheat gluten, providing some of them with as much as 4.5 grams of fiber per patty. Certainly a nice bonus!

In the same way that an omnivore should not eat hamburgers on a daily basis, a similar principle can be applied to meatless alternatives.

Enjoying them once or twice a week is not a problem, but the bulk of the diet should not come from the frozen foods section.


Anonymous said...

Should there be any concerns about amount of soy consumption for a vegetarian who likes to use Boca and Morningstar products on a daily basis?

Andy Bellatti said...


Thank you for your question. I touched upon this issue last year in the following post:

Let me know if you have any other questions.