Although my furnace kicked in this morning, it is ostensibly summer and we Canadians are getting out on the road. Even if you’re not one to go out of the way for Tim Hortons, sometimes it’s the handiest option near a highway or in the airport.
Last month Tims became the latest food vendor to jump on the plant-based bandwagon, unveiling three Beyond Meat Breakfast Sandwiches. If heart health is a priority for you, are these sandwiches worth looking at?
Well, they’re a little higher in protein and fibre, lower in saturated fat and sodium than the regular sausage breakfast sandwiches. But that’s not saying much! We can do better, at Tims and with food from home.
You might still go for one if you enjoy a breakfast sausage sandwich but shun meat for religious reasons, out of concern for animal rights, or for the environment. Tim Hortons says that “Beyond Meat® uses significantly less water, land, and energy to produce than meat, and generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than meat production,” although some believe that claim is based on faulty science.
In terms of cardiovascular health, at least, I can tell you that it’s a bit closer to what’s recommended, but not much. Here are a few details, if you’re curious:
|Original Biscuit, Sausage, Egg, Cheese||Beyond Sausage Egg & Cheese|
|Saturated fat (g)||16||10|
|Trans fat (g)||0.5||0.4|
Beyond Sausage Ingredients
I always like to peek at the ingredient list too. This is for just the Beyond Sausage patty:
Water, Pea Protein, Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Flavour, Rice Protein, Dried Yeast, Methylcellulose, Mung Bean Protein, Sunflower Protein, Seasoning (spices, salt, garlic powder, yeast extract, onion powder, maltodextrin, flavour, gum arabic, sodium phosphate, paprika extract) Potassium Chloride, Apple Extract, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Vitamins And Minerals (Niacin [B3], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [B6], Thiamine Hydrochloride [B1], Riboflavin [B2], Folic Acid [B9], Cyanocobalamin [B12], Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Zinc Sulphate, Ferric Orthophosphate).
Wow. I counted 37 ingredients! Looks alarming at a glance, but contrary to popular lore, you can’t judge a food purely on the length or pronounceability of its ingredient list. Consider this:
- The latter half is made up of vitamins and minerals, which seem to match what you’d typically find in sausage. If you’ve taken a multivitamin, you’ve had these, in larger amounts.
- Others are ingredients you might use in the kitchen, or are derived from them (although I’m not thrilled to see refined coconut oil in there).
- Additives like sodium phosphate and maltodextrin are commonly used, approved by Health Canada, and generally accepted as safe.
Anyhow, if lengthy or tongue-twisting ingredient lists put you off, the pork sausage is probably out too:
Pork, water, salt, spices, dextrose, sugar, autolyzed yeast, lemon powder (corn syrup, concentrated lemon juice, natural flavour), savory flavour (natural flavour, maltodextrin), natural flavours, citric acid, lactic acid.
Shorter, but if you don’t count the vitamins and minerals added to Beyond Meat, they’re comparable: Both are fairly highly processed products.
Isn’t “plant-based” better for heart health?
“Plant-based” is an ill-defined term. Some use it to refer to vegan or exclusively plant-based diets, and if you’ve seen the documentary Forks Over Knives, you know that it’s touted for reversing heart disease. But the evidence for that isn’t strong, and they were using what they call a “whole foods plant-based diet,” not highly-processed imitation meat.
Others mean eating patterns based on more food from plants, like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, but not necessarily only food from plants. Mediterranean-style eating is an example. That’s how Health Canada uses it in the new Canada’s Food Guide. Interestingly, just a few lines below where they talk about eating more plant-based food, they say that “Most healthy eating patterns include little to no highly processed foods.” So again, Beyond Meat isn’t quite what nutrition experts mean when they suggest eating more plant-based foods.
How do the Beyond Sausage Sandwiches taste?
I suppose it kind of tasted and felt like sausage – meaty, and a bit spicy – but partway through eating it I realized I’m probably not the best judge, as I don’t eat the regular ones. I don’t even like sausage. And I’m not thrilled about a sandwich in a biscuit. Seemed awfully bready to me. So not a fan. If you’ve tried them, let me know what you thought!
Which one to try if you’re curious?
Of course start with what sounds good to you! But if you’re looking for a nutrition comparison, here are how the three options compare, in terms of those same nutrients. I estimated the numbers in the final column. (You may have to turn your phone to read it.)
|Beyond Sausage Egg & Cheese||Beyond Sausage Farmer’s Wrap||Beyond Sausage Lettuce Tomato||My suggestion|
|Description||Beyond Meat Sausage, egg, processed cheese, biscuit||Beyond Meat Sausage, egg, chipotle sauce cheddar cheese, and a hashbrown (!), tortilla||Beyond Meat Sausage, lettuce, tomato, biscuit. (vegan, pictured above).||Ask for a Beyond Sausage Lettuce Tomato in a Wheat ‘N Honey bagel (no biscuit)|
|Saturated fat (g)||10||11||11||10|
|Trans fat (g)||0.4||0.4||0.1||0|
Unless you really like the biscuit, I’d ask them to make yours in a wheat ‘n honey or 12 grain bagel instead, or a regular whole wheat bun. Ask them to add real cheddar cheese instead of the processed, and/or an egg if you like. You’ll blow their minds.
The Bottom Line
If you like Beyond Meat products and you prefer to not eat animals, now you have another choice. Yay for choice! We all have a fast-food meal now and again. #roadtrip
But if you’re choosing it for heart-health and that’s a priority for you, there are better options. Tune in next week and I’ll highlight some other choices at Tim’s. Or, you can always download my heart-healthy on the go snack list and brown bag it.