While I understand the need to reduce or even, in some cases, avoid meat, I really don’t understand this trend to plant burgers and sausages. Yes, we need to eat more vegetables; yes, we need to cut back on meat – especially red meat and processed meat. However, that doesn’t translate to a burger created from textured soy protein or wheat gluten along with water, stabilisers, thickeners, flavourings and seasonings like yeast extract, malted barley extract and onion powder. I’m sorry but they’re not real food. To my way of thinking they’re just vegan junk food.

What’s wrong with plant-based aka vegan burgers? They are:

  • Highly-processed
  • High in sodium (salt)
  • Same kilojoules or calories as a meat burger
  • No meaty flavour as they’re not made from real meat
  • Not healthier than fresh meat
  • Huge food miles if they come frozen from the US, UK or Denmark

Healthy things to cook on the BBQ that are NOT vegan junk burgers

It’s hot and the barbie’s fired up. What can we throw on the plate that can help reduce our intake of meat (think a healthier body, healthier planet, less cruelty to animals) but something that’s not a plant-based faux meat?

Here are my easy suggestions for things that can take the place of that round centre of the plate:

  • A large flat mushroom (if you have time, sprinkle over chopped fresh green herbs with olive oil)
  • Home-made rissole made from legumes like mashed chick peas, black beans or lentils with real vegetables such as onions, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, green capsicum as well as quinoa or brown rice
  • Toasted sandwich with the butter on the outside and wrapped in foil – ready to go on. Think cheese and onion, cheese, rocket and tomato etc.
  • A corn cob (partially-cooked and then finished off on the bbq)
  • Half a small eggplant (aubergine) that cooks with the steaks and sausages.

Bottom line: reduce the amount of meat you eat but don’t cut it out altogether. Up your intake of vegetables and legumes, plants that we grow locally. Increase the size of your portions of vegetables and legumes (making them take up HALF the plate) and decrease the amount of red meat and chicken you serve (so they take up only ONE QUARTER of the plate).

See the Choice website for their taste-test of nine plant-based meats (six burger patty products, three mince products) sold in supermarkets from brands including Alternative Meat Co, Beyond Meat, Funky Fields, Eaty Unreal Co and Veef.

And also read up on meat substitutes for vegetarians – are vegie sausages, vegie burgers and other ‘fake’ meats healthy?

Written by guest contributor, dietitian-nutritionist Catherine Saxelby, and reproduced here with permission from www.foodwatch.com.au.