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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 can add protein to a meal while  keeping excess calories, and saturated fat at bay.

Depending on my mood, I sometimes throw in some soy beef crumbles into my chili recipe for a burst of meaty texture.

The main concern with these types of foods is that they are highly processed, and therefore contain quite a bit of sodium.

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, nor are they “healthy” simply by virtue of being vegetarian. 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.

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 occasionally is fine, but the bulk of the diet should not come from the frozen foods section or from processed soy products.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous said on December 1st, 2008

    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?

  2. Andy Bellatti said on December 3rd, 2008

    Hello,

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

    http://smallbitesnutrition.blogspot.com/2007/08/you-ask-i-answer-soy.html

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

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