VEGAN food may not be so healthy, after all. Burger King served a Veganuary treat this week as it launched vegan nuggets.
But while plant-based food is proven to help sex and cardiac health, and is often less fatty, it can contain more sugar and salt – raising blood pressure.
Nutritionist Amanda Ursell warns: “Study the small print.” She gives Lynsey Hope verdicts on fast food faves versus vegan swaps.
McDonald’s Big Mac v McDonald’s McPlant
- Calories: 508 v 429
- Fat: 25g v 20g
- Sugar: 9g v 10g
- Salt: 2.3g v 2.2g
The McPlant contains a little more sugar but wins because it comes with 5g less fat. It is also a tiny bit lighter on the salt and contains more fibre. If you are watching your weight, you save 79 calories.
Subway Ham Sub v Subway Plant Patty
- Calories: 272 v 373
- Fat: 3.3g v 10g
- Sugar: 6.4g v 7.2g
- Salt: 1.6g v 1.8g
Tucking into the meat feast saves you almost 100 calories compared with the vegan option, as well as nearly 7g of fat and 0.2g of salt – making it a clear nutritional winner and proving vegan is not always the healthiest order.
KFC Fillet Burger v KFC Vegan Burger
- Calories: 475 v 450
- Fat: 19.3g v 19g
- Sugar: 5.5g v 5.7g
- Salt: 2.02g v 2.86g
A close call but the Fillet Burger has 0.84g less salt. This may not seem much but the meat burger packs more than a third of the recommended 6g maximum daily salt intake for adults – and the vegan swap almost half.
Greggs Sausage Roll v Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll
- Calories: 328 v 309
- Fat: 21g v 9g
- Sugar: 0g v 0.8g
- Salt: 1.6g v 1.9g
A difference of 19 calories is not much, and the vegan roll has a bit more salt – but it triumphs because it saves on fat and is ahead very slightly on protein, providing 11g versus 9.4g from the meat option.
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Burger King Chicken Nuggets v Burger King Vegan Nuggets
- Calories: 250.5 v 243
- Fat: 13.8g v 12.9g
- Sugar: 1.2g v 0.9g
- Salt: 1.5g v 1.2g
The pack of six vegan bites edges the six meat due to slightly lower fat and salt content. But you get far less protein. Try to make up for this in the day with a drink of soya milk, or baked beans, peas, tofu, nuts or seeds.
Burger King Whopper v Burger King Plant-based Whopper
- Calories: 641.5 v 554.7
- Fat: 35.7g v 26.9g
- Sugar: 11.3g v 12.2g
- Salt: 2.3g v 2.8g
Although salt is 0.5g more in the vegan burger, it packs 87 fewer calories, and 8.8g less fat. While no figures are provided for fibre, the vegan version is likely to be better for this nutrient too, which is good for gut health.
Pizza Hut Pepperoni v Pizza Hut Vegan Pepperoni
- Calories: 1,092 v 936
- Fat: 52.2g v 39g
- Sugar: 4.8g v 3.6g
- Salt: 4.2g v 4.2g
Both of these meals are high on both calories and salt so neither is really very good for you, truth be told. But the vegan pizza is a narrow winner because you save 156 calories as well as 13.2g of fat.
Costa Ham & Cheese Toastie v Costa Vegan Ham & Cheeze Toastie
- Calories: 354 v 352
- Fat: 11g v 8.9g
- Sugar: 4.1g v 2.9g
- Salt: 1.3g v 2g
Pretty equal on calories, and the vegan pick is slightly less fatty. But the meat one wins for its lower salt hit. It may also pack more bone-building calcium than the vegan bite, depending on the type of cheese used in the latter.