Meatless Thanksgiving has pros and cons

Nov. 24, 2009 at 11:26 AM
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CHICAGO, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- For some 45 million U.S. homes, it's not Thanksgiving without a turkey, but more families are going vegetarian or, vegan, dietitians said.

"It's customary to have an array of dishes from green bean casserole to pumpkin pie and a large baked turkey as the centerpiece," Keri Gans, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman of the American Dietetic Association said in a statement. "There are a number of meat replacement options for a holiday meal, though not all are created nutritionally equal."

Gans examined nutrition facts of six meatless holiday roasts and found all the meatless turkey products were very low in saturated fat, ranging from 0 grams to 1.5 grams per serving and all but one product contained no cholesterol.

"All meatless turkey products are excellent sources of protein, ranging from 13 grams to 34 grams per serving," Gans said. "However, there is one major nutritional disadvantage to the meatless turkey roasts -- all are high in sodium, ranging from 450 milligrams to 710 mg per serving, more than 13 times the amount of sodium in real turkey breast without the skin."

In addition, of the meatless roasts Gans reviewed, all contained one or more common food allergens, most prominently wheat and soy. Two products contained milk and eggs, making them bad choices for some vegetarians and all vegans, as well as those with food allergies.

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