They are made from -supposedly- healthier ingredients but in reality they are highly processed and chemically modified. From A pretty good article on Bon Appetite (note; I cherry picked paragraphs from unbiased sources and weeded out the “less dead animals” commentary listed as an advantage. Article;
Just because a burger is made from plants instead of animals doesn’t automatically make it “healthier” for you, Lydon says. “Compared to a meat-based burger, Beyond and Impossible contain roughly the same amount of saturated fat and more sodium,” she says, both of which, when over-consumed, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. “In terms of nutrition labels, most of these seem comparable with the meat foods they are trying to replace,” agrees Coupland, referring primarily to the amount of protein, fat, calories, and sodium in both. It’s important, he says, to remember that “the point of comparison is a sausage, not a carrot!”
Virtually all of them contain pea, soy, or wheat protein (usually listed as an isolate), which “makes up the solid, physical structure” of the food, says John Coupland, PhD, a professor of food science at Penn State. They usually contain a fat, which helps mimic meat’s “soft and juicy texture,” Coupland says.
Many include refined coconut oil, which has been chemically deodorized to remove its scent and flavor and tends to stay firm (like animal fat) at room temperature. Some sort of gum or thickener adds springy-chewy texture, binds the ingredients together, and, Coupland suspects, “stops water seeping out before or during cooking.” In the ingredients list, you might also see methylcellulose (sometimes called maple fiber), which Zimberoff discovered is mostly derived from tree cellulose. It’s also a common ingredient in laxatives and whipped cream. Modified food starch is used in some recipes, which is made by physically, enzymatically, or chemically altering starch derived, most often, from corn, wheat, potato, or tapioca.
Meat gets its unique umami flavor during the cooking process, when “a series of chemical reactions in the muscle” happens, says Coupland. Known as the Maillard Reaction, this is what creates the browned exterior on, say, a seared steak. Fake meats simulate some of this process—a cooked Impossible burger tastes and looks seriously different to its flaccid, lumpy, raw state—as they also contain some of the required sugars and proteins.
But “because the chemical composition isn’t the same [as regular meat], the flavors generated won’t be the same,” says Coupland. To mimic animal protein more closely, fake meats feature natural or artificial flavors, “which are mixtures of compounds that together give a meaty taste.” Many use yeast extract as a flavor enhancer, since it is similar to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Salt, as you might expect, is a key ingredient because it makes literally everything it touches taste better.
Some brands, like Impossible and Beyond, also add a bunch of vitamins and minerals—zinc, niacin, and B vitamins, for example—to try and replicate those found naturally in beef. Impossible is also famous for using heme, an iron-rich molecule made by fermenting modified yeast, which is also the ingredient responsible for helping their burgers “bleed” and taste like real meat.
Another issue with these high-tech fake meats, which Pollan would perhaps argue are more products of science than nature: They’re pretty far removed from the whole foods that our ancestors ate. By isolating ingredients (like that methylcellulose) for their nutritional value or function alone, Zimberoff says we miss out on the good bits that come from eating the entire food source. Take pea protein: It’s chemically extracted from (usually) yellow field peas, but we don’t get any of the magnesium, folate, potassium, or fiber that’s built into the actual pea. Likewise, when oils are refined and deodorized to the form found in many fake meats, they’re also stripped of a bunch of trace elements, which are the minerals present in living tissues. I kind of equate it to drinking Athletic Greens or Emergen-C versus eating a salad or an orange. There’s just some stuff you’re not getting!
I gotta caveat here: health and nutrition are both imperfect sciences and extremely personal. Whether something is “good” for you is entirely up to you. Many people have many opinions about how we should be living our lives, but if you want to eat a veggie burger simply because it is very delicious or you love Mother Earth, you go do that!
Bentley is also quick to explain that not all industrially produced food is bad. In fact, our diets are full of it: boxes of baby spinach, bags of rice, and canned tomatoes are all processed to a degree. “A lot of it is really well made, and frankly, in today's society, we couldn't get along without the industrial food supply chain,” she says. “We just need to think about it with more nuance.”
The funny part about her criticism; she has been a vegetarian for 27 years Article bits; Many people believe that fake meat can be healthier than real meat. However, that is not the case. When it comes to food, if you can’t pronounce it and it’s not found in nature, you don’t want to eat it.
Faux meat brands use additives such as:
Modified potato starch: a plant starch whose chemical structure has been modified through physical or chemical process. Modified starches such as potato starch can withstand high temperatures and are often used as a thickening agent.2 Modified food starches are high in carbohydrates, spike blood sugar, and are essentially empty calories.
Cultured dextrose: a cultured food product made by fermenting glucose with a probiotic called Propionibacterium freudenreichii, which is derived from dairy and used in the production of cheese.3,4 The combination of sugar and dairy is a recipe for gut disaster, especially if you are dealing with Candida overgrowth.
Myth: Fake meat is better for the environment because the beef industry produces excessive greenhouse gasses and destroys the environment.
Fact: Ingredients such as pea protein and canola oil also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and land use. You can read more about greenhouse gases in this article.
Fat and Cholesterol Myth: Meat is rich in fat and cholesterol and causes increased blood cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease.11
Fact: Lean red meat, trimmed of excess fat, does not increase cardiovascular risk factors. It contains protein that’s easy for your body to use, as well as vitamins and minerals your body needs.12
Nutrition Myth: Fake meat is a good source of essential nutrients including vitamins and minerals.
Fact: Fake meat is also missing key beneficial fatty acids, vitamins and minerals found in animal protein such as vitamin B12. Additionally, heme-iron is the most bioavailable form of iron, and it can only be found in real animal protein.
She breaks down the ingredients and compares this to lean beef.
She has a bunch of graphics and illustrations that make it hard to cut and paste
Admittedly I’m biased…but I came away from that research thinking, “Why?”
I can see where its a solution for the PETA crowd…and the new generations far removed from farming and food production.