Here are six tips to help you figure out which deserve a place on your plate.

1. Maximize protein. If your aim is to replace meat, ¬fish, or poultry, look for at least 10 grams of protein in a serving (roughly 3 oz.). That’s about half what you’d get from the same amount of cooked chicken or beef. Look for at least 5 grams of protein for breakfast sausage and bacon, because their serving size (roughly 1½ oz.) is smaller.
2. Minimize salt. Most companies go heavy on the salt. Aim for just 350 milligrams per serving (250 mg for breakfast sausage and bacon). The good news: some veggie meats deliver a dose of potassium from their soy—or sometimes from added potassium—which helps counter their blood-pressure-boosting sodium. For example, a 3 oz. Lightlife Original Chick’n Smart Cutlet has 430 mg of potassium, and a 4 oz. Beyond Meat Beast Burger patty has 720 mg. Add a salad or a side of veggies for even more.
3. Don’t fear soy. “Soy free” or “no soy,” boast some veggie meats. But there’s no need to skip soy, which supplies plenty of plant protein. And don’t fret over online scare stories that soy raises the risk of breast cancer, harms your thyroid gland, weakens your memory, threatens males’ masculinity, or keeps you from absorbing minerals.
4. Check the oil. Most veggie meats are made with polyunsaturated oils, which lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This is good but not great. Too many polyunsaturated fats also lower your HDL (not good). And then there are a few burgers—like Hilary’s and Beyond Meat’s The Beyond Burger—which have enough coconut oil to deliver at least a quarter of a day’s saturated fat (5 grams). Look for veggie meats that have no more than 2 grams of sat fat.

Reprinted with permission by, Center for Science and Public Interest.

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