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Friend or Faux

BY NANCY CLARK
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

The rise of plant-based protein appeals to many health-conscious athletes who want to reduce their intake of saturated fat as well stand up for the environment and animal welfare concerns.  As a result, more and more athletes are trending towards a vegetarian diet. Two types of non-meat eaters seem to be emerging: traditional vegetarians and those who choose ultra-processed almond milk, Beyond Burgers, and Impossible Burgers, which offer a way to enjoy a tasty plant-based burger without feeling denied or deprived of the real thing. But are these burgers a step in a nutritionally positive direction in terms of the environment and our health? Regarding environmental concerns, both the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger report an estimated 89 to 90 percent smaller carbon footprint than a burger made from beef. Faux meat production requires less land and water and creates less methane and manure. Nutritionally speaking, faux meat is a reasonable match for real beef, but without the bioactive compounds that naturally occur in standard food. As for me, I’ll stick with an occasional all-natural lean beef burger when desired, and choose plant-based foods more often than not. While the Impossible Whopper pleases my palate, I can’t help but wonder if Mother Nature knows best.

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