Is vegan fast food healthy?

Will Kreznick

Burger King’s Impossible Whopper burgerPhoto: NurPhoto / Contributor (Getty Images) Fast food chains are leaning hard into plant-based eating, from the recently announced McDonald’s McPlant to ongoing vegan-friendly menu development at Starbucks. And while plant-based diets are generally linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes (and, y’know, […]

Burger King's Impossible Whopper burger

Burger King’s Impossible Whopper burger
Photo: NurPhoto / Contributor (Getty Images)

Fast food chains are leaning hard into plant-based eating, from the recently announced McDonald’s McPlant to ongoing vegan-friendly menu development at Starbucks. And while plant-based diets are generally linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes (and, y’know, a healthier planet), a recent Outside article explains that individual plant-based fast food items like the McPlant aren’t necessarily healthier than their meaty counterparts.

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Outside reports that both Beyond and Impossible burgers contain 20 grams of protein per four ounces, almost exactly as much as four ounces of 85% ground beef. That’s good news—but it’s not all sunshine and daisies on the plant-based meat scene. Impossible beef contains the same amount of saturated fat as 85 percent lean ground beef—eight grams per four ounces—while a serving of Beyond beef contains five grams. Doesn’t matter if it comes from plants or animals: too much saturated fat is bad news. Outside also reports that plant-based meat also tends to be higher in sodium than regular meat, with the Impossible Whopper packing about 10% more sodium than a classic Whopper.

Here’s the deal: in terms of environmental friendliness, plant-based foods are the better choice, with vegan diets creating significantly smaller carbon footprints than traditional meaty diets. Plant-based fast food options make it way easier to eliminate meat from your diet, especially if you’re opting for fast food on the regular. Just keep in mind that plant-based fast food is still fast food, so you should probably supplement it with a carrot here and there.

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