Real or Fake Meat?

There are a few places in the Santa Clarita Valley that offers vegan-meat such as the Rustic Burger House which has an Impossible Burger available for a limited time on its menu. Jose Herrera/The Signal

By Jose Herrera

Signal Staff Writer

Doña Uhrig

Sunday Signal Editor

On a busy weekday when there’s no time to cook, a person might consider takeout – there’s so much to choose from such as burgers, pizza, Asian food, tacos, or maybe something else from a nearby mom-and-pop shop.

After making that difficult decision that can sometimes lead to bickering with friends and family, the next step is to order, but what is this on the menu? A meatless option?

Whether you are looking for a meatless option because of your concerns for the environment, you need a more healthy option or you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are more options available today rather than just a salad. Now, you can get your meatless option that is in the form of a tasty burger, pizza or more. And, you can get it through your regular restaurants.

Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat

The options are many. Two of the more popular brands that have partnered with several restaurant chains are Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

Beyond Meat uses five key elements they target to produce their products: They use various beans as their source of protein; cocoa butter and coconut oil for their fats; potato starch and methylcellulose (a plant fiber derivative) for their carbohydrates, which gives their products texture; they incorporate calcium, iron, salt and potassium chloride — minerals found in animal-based meat; and lastly, they use beet juice and apple extract in their products to give them that meat-like color and taste.

Impossible Foods uses a similar approach but differs in its selection of ingredients and how it process plant-based meat. For example, the Impossible burger uses four main ingredients: soybeans and potatoes for proteins; heme, a yeast extract, for flavoring; coconut and sunflower oils for fats; and they use methylcellulose and food starch, a carbohydrate commonly found in foods like canned soup, to bind the elements.

The key thing to remember is if you are looking for a vegan option, you need to also ask how the food was prepared. Simply because the burger is plant-based, doesn’t mean that the end product is pure vegan. How was the burger cooked? Was vegan butter used?

Local Options

In the Santa Clarita Valley, numerous restaurants offer meatless options. Marston’s Restaurant offers a Beyond Meat burger at its location in Valencia. Newhall Refinery has an Impossible patty for its customers. The Rustic Burger House in Valencia also offers an Impossible burger. Then there’s Tomato Joe’s Pizza Express.

Sally Brown of Tomato Joe’s Pizza Express said it was one of the first places to offer gluten-free crust and meatless options. Brown said she started introducing gluten-free and vegan options because of her customers.

“I was wondering why people didn’t order cheese (on their pizza),” Brown said. “There I was thinking that was insane – just sauce and toppings. I asked my customers, and they let me know it was because they were either lactose intolerant or vegan.”

Her customers’ needs led her to search for more inclusive ingredients that would allow customers to enjoy pizza. Customers can order a plant-based pizza from the base of the pizza to toppings and meats, too.

Tomato Joe’s Pizza Express also has vegan chicken wings, a vegan hot dog and a lot more to choose from for people who have dietary restrictions.

“I brought them (vegan choices) early on because I saw there was a need for it,” Brown said.

Why Meatless?

There are many reasons people opt for meatless. In some cases, its a concern for the environment.
Impossible Foods mission is to “make delicious meat, fish, and dairy products, from plants, so you
can eat what you love, and save the planet that you love. Small actions lead to big change.”
Beyond Meat’s mission is very similar. “By shifting from animal to plant-based meat, we can
positively affect the planet, the environment, the climate and even ourselves. After all, the positive choices we make every day — no matter how small — can have a great impact on our world.”

Heart health is another reason for switching to a plant-based diet. According to the Mayo Clinic,
“Eating more plant-based foods can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of
heart disease — that’s a win-win-win.”

Researchers have investigated the relationship between plant-based diets and various ailments, it
said. And, the findings have confirmed that eating more fruits and vegetables makes for a healthier

Plant-based foods go beyond burgers. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have entered into numerous partnerships with several restaurants including Olive Garden, Yard House, P.F. Chang’s, Pizza Hut,
Kentucky Fried Chicken, Carl’s Jr., and California Pizza Kitchen.

The options are almost endless.

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