WiseFins deciphers, you choose!
Have you heard of the burger from Beyond Meat? Your answer will likely be “yes”! It is the world’s most popular plant-based burger. A revolutionary burger that has the taste, texture and colour of ground beef. It has attracted the curiosity of vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and meat eaters looking for an alternative to the classic grill! Indeed, 90% of Beyond Meat consumers also eat meat. The mission of the company is clear: provide a 100% plant-based alternative to beef in order to improve consumer health, protect the planet and respect animal welfare. WiseFins compares nutritional values, water requirements and carbon footprint of the classic ground beef and the innovative Beyond Burger. Let the battle begin!
Round 1: Beef burger vs Beyond Burger: which one is healthier?
Let us start this battle with the new comer on the French market, the Beyond Burger! Visually, it is difficult to differentiate it from its opponent: same appearance, colour, and texture, without an ounce of animal meat. This burger is essentially made of water, pea protein, canola oil (more commonly known as rapeseed oil) and coconut oil. Other ingredients are added in small proportions to create the illusion and to bind colour and mimic the appearance of beef. It is GMO-free (genetically modified organism), soy-free and gluten-free, and a real success! Nevertheless, the results of its nutritional review are more mixed and many of its consumers criticize it for being an ultra-processed food. A Beyond Burger has a fat content of 19%, which is quite high. It has 270 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat and 390 milligrams of sodium. Its opponent, the ground beef, offers a similar nutritional makeup: only 30 calories and 300 milligrams less sodium than its opponent. Although the Beyond Burger has more sodium, which plays a key role in nerve and muscle function, it is also rich in coconut oil. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat. It is known to increase cholesterol in the same way as butter, beef fat or palm oil. Apparently Beyond Meat preferred to make compromises on the composition of its product in order to get as close as possible to the visual aspect of meat.
RESULT: tie game. The protein and fat contents of the two contestants are quite similar and the Beyond Burger isn’t as clean a meat as we may think.
Round 2: Beef burger vs Beyond Burger: which has the lowest water footprint?
Let us start with the most conventional, ground beef. One kilogram of ground meat needs at least 8,780 litres of water to produce. This is a lot of water, equivalent to the water capacity of a small inflatable pool. Its opponent, the Beyond Burger, boasts on social media of having a 99% smaller impact on our water resources. And it is true! The production of the plant-based Beyond Burger requires only 2.4 liters of water. A product that has so far kept its promise!
RESULT: Unsurprisingly, the Beyond Burger wins this round and leaves the ground beef to drink under the table.
Round 3: Beef burger vs Beyond Burger: which one has the lowest carbon footprint?
Will the beef burger catch up with its opponent? Not sure. Livestock production for meat consumption is responsible for at least 14.5% of the world’s anthropogenic (human-related) greenhouse gas emissions. Producing ground beef, and beef production in general, is no exception to this rule. On the contrary, beef is the second most CO2 emitting meat after lamb. The production of one kilogram of cooked ground beef emits 54.44 kilograms of CO2; this is equivalent to a 282 kilometers car trip. That is more than a drive from Nice to Marseille! Again, Beyond Burger stands out as it generates only 0.88 kilograms of CO2. A 100% plant-based alternative like Beyond Burger emits 90% less greenhouse gas emissions. Enough to make you think…
RESULT: once again, Beyond Burger has managed to knock out its opponent.
Verdict: Beef burger vs Beyond Burger: Beyond Burger wins!
The Beyond Burger wins the WiseFins battle! This is a 100% plant-based alternative to ground beef, with less impact on water resources and CO2 emissions. In addition, the Beyond Burger requires 46% less energy and reduces land use by 93% compared to beef production. What about the taste? We cannot share it virtually; but try it, you will be surprised!