Say what you want about meatyou have to admit that its convenient. Slap a hot dog in a bun. Form a ground beef patty and throw it on the grill. Take a steak out of the package and slip it under the broiler.
Not too long ago, people with a vegetarian bent would have to either forgo the pleasure of digging into a juicy burger or put up with canned meat analogs. Those soggy, sponge-like blobs were enough to kill anyones desire to go meatless.
But over the past couple of decades, as more people have stopped eating meat, food technologists have gotten better at spinning soy and other ingredients into meatlike burgers, balls, and crumbles. And food-industry chefs have gone far beyond meat, creating veggie and other patties that redefine the word burger.
Today, you can get burgers, hot dogs, nuggets, and other products that are every bit as convenient as their meat versions. And theyre far more healthful, thanks to their low levels of saturated fat and higher levels of fiber, soy, and other plant-based nutrients. Many of them taste delicious, whether theyre dead ringers for beef or chicken or closer to the flavors of your favorite Mexican or Italian dishes. A bonus: theres no greasy mess to clean up...and less worry about food poisoning.
Theres also less worry about damage to the environment. Raising livestock typically requires enormous amounts of land, water, pesticides, and fertilizer. The resulting pollution of streams, destruction of habitats, and harm to wildlife and farmers dwarfs many other environmental problems.
In a typical Nutrition Action review of breakfast cereals, ice creams, or other packaged foods, we typically have to hunt through dozens of brands to find a few that qualify for a Best Bite rating. In this issues brand-name rating of meatless meats, I was shocked to see Best Bite awards galore. Even with pretty strict standards, about half the burgers, nuggets, franks, and sausages qualified for a thumbs up.
That means that its getting ever easier to replace meat with more healthful alternatives.
Gotta go. Im off to have a veggie burger with mustard and tomato on a crusty whole-wheat roll.