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Is Plant-Based Meat the New Grass-Fed Beef?

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

As you may know by now, I'm a big fan of grass-fed beef. Because of its nutrient density, I believe it should play a central role in the human diet.

But as of more recently, I've been researching the nutritional density of plant-based meat. As it is receiving extensive attention from the media for being nutritionally equal or even superior to grass-fed beef, it is necessary to cover this trending topic.

When comparing the nutritional label of grass-fed beef to plant-based meat, there are no striking differences that would influence the consumer's decision-making process.

In our macronutrient-obsessed society, the only difference between the two is just 9 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein. This is insignificant for even the most religious macro-counters.

What is even more conflicting is the vitamin and mineral levels of plant-based meat and grass-fed beef. They seem to be exchangeable.

Now, if you were to show these nutritional facts to your doctor or nutritionist and ask for guidance on which one to choose, odds are they wouldn't draw any meaningful convictions on which of the two is better.

If anything, they'd recommend the plant-based meat because it's "cleaner" than beef. They might even go on to explain that red meat consumption is related to increased cancer risk and cardiovascular disease.

I've said it 2,304,940 times and I'll say it again: the claims that red meat is unhealthy are false. These are the lies of Ancel Keys that continue to shadow America's nutritional policies.

As I've expressed in previous posts, the nutrient density of foods cannot be seen on nutritional labels. In order to understand whether we're eating something healthy or harmful, we must read the ingredient list. Now, let's compare the ingredients of the plant-based meat to the grass-fed beef.

Plant-based meat (Impossible Burger):

Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% Or Less Of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant), Soy Protein Isolate Vitamins and Minerals: Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12. Contains: Soy

Grass-fed beef:

Grass-fed beef

I've broken down the ingredient comparison into five sections: Protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, additives, and metabolites.


The Impossible Burger's source of protein come from soybeans. This is problematic for many reasons. First, the amino acid profile of soybeans is nowhere as wholesome as grass-fed beef. This may seem like a small issue, but amino acids are what hold your body together and are required for countless biochemical reactions. Beef, however, provides the most ideal ratio of amino acids.

Secondly, the soybeans that are used to make this protein are genetically modified, meaning they're dowsed in carcinogenic pesticides.

Lastly, the soy protein is extracted and isolated from a whole soybean, leaving it unaccompanied by the other nutrients found in the soybean. Isolated plant-protein is cumbersome to digest, making nutrient absorption unattainable.


Coconut oil and sunflower oil are the two sources of fats Impossible Burger utilizes. Coconut oil is not an issue as it is primarily made of saturated fatty acids. On the other hand, sunflower oil is something we should circumnavigate due to its high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are prone to oxidation which leads to chronic inflammation. (For my full thoughts on vegetable and seed oils, read this. )

Just as the amino acids of beef are in the ideal ratios, the fatty acids of beef are equally ideal. For example, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids share the same metabolism pathway, meaning that there needs to be the correct ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in order for operations to run uniformly.

However, when a diet is too high in omega-6 (polyunsaturated fatty acids), their dominant presence overthrows the omega-3 fatty acids. This is when things heat up. In a bad way. Grass-fed beef delivers the ideal ratio of fatty acids that actually reduce inflammation.

Vitamins and Minerals

On the nutritional label, the Impossible Burger shows that it contains similar amounts of B vitamins and minerals to the grass-fed beef. Again, the two look indistinguishable. However, these vitamins are added to the plant-based meat, meaning they're not naturally found in the ingredients.

This may seem like a positive aspect. As if these food companies are looking out for our health. The opposite is true. The vitamins they add to plant-based meats are made in a lab derived from mold and petroleum.

The nutritional label, says that it contains 120% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12. But it's not that straightforward. The body has to convert the synthetic version of B12 into a biologically active, usable form. At the end of this multi-step conversion process, what the nutritional label says- that there's 120% of the recommended daily intake- is a lie. There's more like 40-60% of usable B12. This applies to all synthetic vitamins.

As chemists cleverly discovered how to synthesize vitamins, the health ramifications of consuming large amounts of these man-made compounds are largely unknown.

Fortunately, chemists haven't figured out a way to synthesize minerals. Although, the minerals in plant-based meat are not natural. Again, they add these minerals to fortify their product. But because these minerals aren't compounded their whole food form (think of iron in beef), it's challenging and even dangerous for our digestive systems to deal with. Adding minerals (aka rocks) into food is not healthy. This is what companies like Impossible Foods have to do in order to appear as nutritionally equal to grass-fed beef.

Vitamin and mineral sufficiency comes only by way of eating meat. In nature, B12 is not found anywhere other than animal products. Additionally, the most bioavailability forms of all vitamins (excluding vitamin C) and minerals come from animals, not plants or labs.


I'll start by saying that there are no additives to grass-fed beef. This is because we do not need to manipulate its appearance, texture, and flavor to make it appetizing. The flavor of grass-fed beef is complex and mouthwatering. It cannot be replicated by plants.

Nevertheless, food companies attempt to use plants to mimic the appearance and taste of meat. To do so, the process requires various stabilizers and emulsifiers which are listed below.

Methylcellulose: Multi-purposed ingredient as it is used as a thickening agent (emulsifier) and a laxative (because the body's not equipped to break down such strange ingredients on its own).

Potato Protein: Despite what is being said by the vegan media, potatoes are not a good source of protein. One cup of potatoes contains 1 gram of protein. This means that it's added to plant-based meat for reasons other than its unimpressive amino acid lineup. It's a cheap emulsifier that is added for no apparent reason other than to hold ingredients together.

Yeast Extract: Sounds innocent, but it's not here for your health. The food industry uses yeast extract as a psychological drug to make you addicted to their food-like substances. Containing free glutamic acid, which is the main component of MSG, this compound is a excitotoxin, meaning it literally stimulates neurons to death.

Modified Food Starch: Derived from genetically modified wheat, corn, or tubers, this acts as an anti-caking agent.

Soy Leghemoglobin: This ingredient is what gives the plant mixture the red, bloody appearance. The Center for Food Safety states, "there is no history or knowledge of human dietary exposure of soy leghemoglobin." Hastily approved by the FDA, many are lobbying to urge the FDA to retract its decision.


The inspiration for this post came from a study recently published in the journal Nature which compared the amount of metabolites found in grass-fed beef versus plant-based meat. Metabolites are various nutrients that aren't on nutritional labels which include amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids, peptides, phenols, and antioxidants.

From a nutritional perspective, the results indicate that plant-based meat falls pathetically short to grass-fed beef.

"Despite these apparent similarities based on Nutrition Facts panels, our metabolomics analysis found that metabolite abundance between the plant-based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef differed by 90%"

You can read the full study here which I highly recommend.

The plant-based meat industry is projected to increase from $11.6 billion in 2019 to $30.9 billion by 2026. This means that more disease-causing substances like the Impossible Burger are not going away unless we inform our friends and family about the dangers of these products.

It's called the Impossible Burger because it supposedly tastes like beef. Just remember that nothing that tastes more like beef than well... grass-fed beef. And there's no plant-based meat or any plant in general that will ever come close to matching the nutrient density of grass-fed beef.

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