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Sustainable Animal-Free Alternatives?

As public concerns over health and climate change grow, there has been an explosion of sustainable plant-based products being produced by food companies (or FoodTech companies) ranging from cultured meat, seafood from sea plants to egg-less mayonnaise just to name a few. How are these futuristic products produced and what are their impacts on health?

Meat Alternatives

The world may call them "lab-grown" but companies due to marketing purposes adopted terms such as "cultured meat", "cell-based meat", or even "clean meat". On the other hand, ranchers/farmers have been using the term "fake-meat" when discussing such products.


Cells are extracted from animals, treated in a growth medium resulting in cell proliferation. This is then placed in a bio-reactor which supplies the cells with the energy it requires. Cells are then grown in a scaffold to give structure to the product.

It involves meat produced by in-vitro cultivation of animal cells rather than from slaughter.

Here are some of the companies that have replicated animal meat using solely plant-based ingredients - but it’s not really being targeted at veggies, these alternatives will definitely appeal to the health-conscious omnivore and environmentally aware consumer.

1. Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded by vegan Ethan Brown in 2009. They use pea protein mixed with fats in the same proportion as found in ground beef to create a similar taste and texture like beef. By using beetroot juice, it creates the effect of the burger bleeding a meaty red hue.

Product Range: Burger patties, sausage (original and hot Italian) and minced beef

Allergy information: Free from Gluten, Peanuts, Soy

Price: Beyond Burger £ 5.50 for a pack of two patties (Tesco), £10.95 for a set at Honest Burgers

Nutrition Per Burger

(4 ounces/113 grams)

Calories: 270 kcal

Fat: 20 g (5 g saturated fat)

Protein: 20 g

Sodium: 380 mg (0.95g salt)

Carbohydrates: 5 g

Fiber: 3 g

Sugars: 0 g

Vitamin C: 4 mg (7%)

Calcium: 20 mg (2%)

Iron: 5.4 mg (30%)

The patties pack four main ingredients: water, pea protein isolate, rapeseed (canola) oil, and refined coconut oil with minimal amounts of potato starch and beetroot juice as well.

As for other highlights, the Beyond Burger packs in 20 g of protein, 20 mg of calcium, along with some vitamin C and an impressive amount of non-heme iron meeting 30% of your daily quota.

2. Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods Inc. is a Californian-based food company founded in 2011 by a biochemistry professor, Patrick O. Brown. The Impossible Burger, their signature product, was launched in 2016 and subsequently, the Impossible Burger 2.0 with an upgraded recipe was released early 2019. Not only with improvements in taste and texture but the modified burger also seemed to be healthier as well —17% lower in calories, 30% less sodium and 40% less saturated fat than the original version.

One of the main ingredients that they use is a plant-derived heme, leghemoglobin, found naturally in the roots of soy plants. This is a molecule in blood that gives the burgers a more natural, bloody aesthetic to the meat.

Product Range: Burger patties

Allergy Information: Contains wheat and soy

Price: Available at a wide range of fast-food hamburger chains in the U.S.

Nutrition Per Burger

(4 ounces/113 grams)

Calories: 240 kcal

Fat: 14 g (8 g saturated fat)

Protein: 19 g

Sodium: 370 mg (0.9 g salt)

Carbohydrates: 9 g

Fibre: 3 g

Sugars: <1 g

B Vitamins

Calcium: 170 mg (15%)

Iron: 4.2 mg (25%)

The Impossible Burger ingredients list includes wheat protein, coconut oil, and potato protein.

With the upgraded version, a 4-ounce serving contains 19 g of protein, 4.2 mg of iron meeting 25% of your quota and a wide range of B vitamins.

3. Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains is a UK based company founded by Simeon Van Der Molen is famously known for their B12 Burger. Moving Mountains is billed as the UK’s answer to the US’s Impossible Burger. Similar to Beyond Burger, they use a blend of pea protein, wheat protein, and mushrooms, with coconut oil and beet juice which allows a juicy ‘bleed’ at the centre of the patty. The burgers are loaded with herbs, spices and packed with Vitamin B12, hence the name.

Product Range: Burger patties, sausage (original and hot Italian) and minced beef

Allergy information: contains gluten and soy

Price: Restaurants across the UK for around £10

Nutrition Per Burger

(per 100 grams)

Calories: 241 kcal

Fat: 15.9 g (12 g saturated fat)

Protein: 18.8 g

Sodium: 480 mg (1.2 g salt)

Carbohydrates: 1.6 g

Fibre: 8.3 g

Sugars: 0.3 g

B Vitamins

(not shown on the website)

Moving Mountain's B12 burger is made from pea protein, wheat protein, soy protein, coconut oil, beetroot, and fortified with vitamin B12.

It provides 19 g of protein per 100 g and is quite high in saturated fat but there is no mention of the micro-nutrient content. I have to point out that the serving sizes are smaller than the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger.

4. Quorn

Founded in 1985 in the U.K., Quorn entered the market selling meat substitute products used in a range of prepackaged meals.

In 2002, Quorn got off to a poor start in the US when the American Mushroom Institute complained that Fusarium is not a mushroom in which Quorn responds by removing "mushroom in origin" from their packaging.

These products are made from mycoprotein derived from single-cell fungi and mixed with egg albumen as a binder which are then pressed into various shapes.

Potato protein is used instead of egg albumen for their vegan products.

Product ranges: more than 100 products, from the typical mince and sausages to escalopes and toad in the hole. (However, Quorn can only produce the features of these lower-grade frozen meats.)

Allergy information: contains Fusarium venenatum, some contain wheat, gluten and/or soy

Price: £2 - £3 depending on the product

Nutrition Per Meatless Patty

(per 75 grams)

Calories: 130 kcal

Fat: 5 g (0 g saturated fat)

Protein: 8 g

Sodium: 290 mg (0.7 g salt)

Carbohydrates: 17 g

Fibre: 5 g

Sugars: 0.5 g

Each meatless patty (75 g) contains very low in calories, fat and actually contain a decent amount of protein. However, Quorn products are rarely fortified with other micronutrients.

Other brands worth mentioning:


Icelands No Bull

Naturli' Foods

Meat Alternatives vs. Conventional Burger Patty (80% lean beef, 20% fat)

Meat alternatives compare favourably to lean ground beef in terms of nutrition.

A typical serving of a 20% fat burger patty provides similar calories and protein content to the burger alternatives (except for Quorn) but it actually has higher levels of cholesterol.

Conventional burger patties provide a good source of vitamin B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, zinc and heme iron alongside with other micronutrients and on average is lower in salt as well.

Nutrition Per Burger

(4 ounces/113 grams)

Calories: 287 kcal

Fat: 22 g (9 g saturated fat)

Protein: 20 g

Sodium: 75 mg (0.19 g salt)

Carbohydrates: 0 g

Fibre: 0 g

Sugars: 0 g

B Vitamins



Seafood Alternatives

5. New Wave Foods

New Wave Foods co-founded by Dominique Barnes & Michelle Wolf in 2011 produces algae-based shrimp, soy-based protein (testing other protein sources for future iterations) and other natural ingredients that are not mentioned on the website.

Product ranges: Shrimp is the most consumed seaf