Will meatless burgers, and more sustainable bug meatballs be the food of the future?
There has been more interest in recent years of alternatives to meat. With cattle using so much land and water, and a growing population,it does seem sensible and more humane to look for alternatives to meat.
There are more and more restaurants that have starting putting insects on their menu. A food van in Belgium sells bugs in mugs, for insects on the go, and if you prefer not to have insects as a main dish then why not try them as a topping at a restaurant in Mexico, ‘Xochi’ serves: cheese paired with fried pork belly, guacamole, and “a trio of insects” as one of their dishes.
But if you don’t fancy eating out, you can find bug burgers at some supermarkets. Switzerland known for their chocolate and fondue, have had their laws relaxed and will start selling bug burgers and bug meatballs in the spring.
There is no question that harvesting insects does have its benefits, both for the environment and being a healthy source of protein.
However, not everyone will be able to get their heads round eating bugs, as simply the idea of it, makes their skin crawl.
For some it is about the taste of beef burgers, and meat eaters would be hard to impress with the usual vegetarian burger you buy. Meatless burgers either made out of pulses or soya simply do not taste like a normal beef burger.
A company called ‘impossible’ foods sought out to make a burger that was purely plant-based, but would taste and feel like an ordinary burger.
They claim that their burgers which are made entirely out of plants are better for the environment. On their website they state that they use 95% less land, 74% less water and creates 87% less greenhouse gas omissions.
At the moment they only have their ‘Impossible’ burgers in three restaurants in the US in New York City and California.
You can’t mistake these statistics as being good for the environment and better for animals. But what about the nutritional components?
The impossible burger is made up of wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and something called ‘heme’. The heme gives the burger its characteristic colour and taste of meat. Heme is abundant in animal muscle. But instead they use the heme from plants, and ferment it, in a similar way the Belgians have made their beer for a number of years.
The thing they say they have managed to replicate is the ‘Blood’ component of the meat, which other veggie burgers have not got. They use the heme protein to replicate the colour and the taste of real meat.
Here are the full ingredients:
Full Ingredient List:
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.
Nutritionally, containing B vitamins and the use of coconut oil instead of a more refined oil, would be a good alternative to beef. The vitamin B12 would be particularly useful for Vegans who sometimes lack this vitamin due to it mainly coming from meat and dairy products.
The burgers would not be suitable for those intolerant to wheat and gluten, which means that they would not be suitable for Coeliacs or those with a gluten or wheat intolerance.
I was disappointed to see that this was a Soy burger. Personally, I choose to avoid soy. There is very conflicting research on whether Soy is harmful or not, but there is some evidence to suggest that it contains endocrine disrupting compounds, and being a relatively new addition to the diet, there is just not enough known about the long term effects in the body.
However, this is different to the fermented soy such as natto, miso and tempeh which appear to be healthy in small amounts with natto being a good source of vitamin K2, which is important to bone health and cardiovascular health.
So bug burgers, impossible burgers, beef burgers, bugsolutely not for me. I think I will give all of them a miss, but then I never did like burgers anyway.