Which is healthier: Plant-based Chicken Nuggets or Real Chicken Nuggets?
Vegan Chicken Nuggets vs. Chicken Nuggets
In this article, besides all the information about subjects that are related to veganism, our main goal is to compare vegan chicken nuggets with real chicken nuggets in all categories too find out which one is healthier and tastier.
And in the end, I’m going to give you a delicious vegan chicken nugget recipe that you can make on your own.
In this article you will read:
Origin of veganism and its facts
As we all know, the main theme of veganism is to put a stop to killing of innocent animals.
The term “veganism” wasn’t around until the 1940s but the concept of people avoiding the consumption and use of animal products can be traced back to 2000 years ago.
The vegan diet became increasingly mainstream in the 2010s that it gained so much popularity that The-Economist declared 2019 “the year of the vegan”.
Since then, most restaurants began marking vegan items on their menus and supermarkets improved their selection of vegan-processed food.
The numbers may not be completely accurate, but as of now about 88 million people in the world are vegan which equals 1.1% of the world.
Although, there are certain numbers about vegans of each country, we basically can’t come up with a result to detect the country with the most vegans, due to the difference of veganism and vegetarianism. Also, due to the fact that each country has different population. So that, the community of vegans of that country goes up with the population growth rate. However, based on the current numbers that we have, we can ensure that India is the number one country in that list for having the most vegans in a country, thanks to its population.
Percentage wise, besides India, the countries with higher rate of vegans in the country are Israel and UK which apparently for Israel is 5% of the population and for UK it is near 3% of the country, as of 2021.
Harsh Realities of the Poultry Companies
Now let’s talk about the dark secrets and harsh realities of the ruthless chicken industry.
Most people don’t know anything about the cycle of chicken industry and have no idea that how badly it damages the environment and imbalances the nature.
Now we are going to reveal some of the undercover facts that people haven’t heard of.
For providing chicken meat, the first thing that the ruthless poultry companies do is that they throw whole lot of chickens in super small sheds.
The main problem isn’t the fact that they are locked up in overly crowded tiny sheds that leads to pain and suffering.
It’s all about hygiene!
They are all trapped in a dirty and unhygienic place which now isn’t just summed up as their health problem, it is problematic for our health too!
Mainly because of the environmental effect of dirty sheds like bacteria and other infections that can enter their bodies and that’s not the only threat of unhygienic sheds, dirty sheds are usually full of worms and ticks because they aren’t cleaned on a regular basis.
Worms and ticks are the most common causes of parasitic diseases.
If we eat the meat of a chicken that been hatched in an unhygienic place, bacteria and the diseases mentioned above, automatically enter our bodies and these cons that were mentioned, aren’t the only problems that insanitary poultry companies have.
There are certain unfair things that even the so-called hygienic chicken farms have too!
Furthermore, hygiene shouldn’t be our only concern.
There are certain policies that a lot of farms don’t follow like the fact that sheds mustn’t be crowded with lots of chickens because that can lead to cannibalism.
Cannibalism happens when chickens are stressed because they aren’t managed well and That’s not the only way, poor nutrition can also cause cannibalism.
Cannibalism is completely linked to malnutrition and it occurs when there are deficiencies in sodium, phosphorus and even protein.
The reason that protein plays an important role even for chickens, is that it increases egg production and impacts their health in a good way but you have to know that too much protein is dangerous for them too!
Mainly because it can lead to serious health problems like kidney failure.
Besides nutrition and hygiene factors, the ruthless part about poultry companies is that, some of them pluck all the chickens even before the time that they are slaughtered and that makes them suffer in an awkward way, which is known as feather removal.
Plus, there are other merciless acts that companies do in purpose of avoiding cannibalism, such as debeaking (also known as beak trimming) and using heat lamps.
Growth hormone is something that most of chicken farms use, owing to the fact that chickens that are injected with it are going to grow sooner and get bigger and heavier, moreover to produce more eggs.
Another thing that has to be mentioned is that, Hormones completely mess up their bodies and using hormones would cause leg problems and even early death.
We flash back to the part that we said, “when we eat chicken, everything that the chicken has eaten, automatically enters our body” and that is true for hormones too.
Hormones and steroids are terrible for our bodies since the toxicity they cause in our bodies.
The common hormones and other types of drugs that most chicken farms use are: peptide hormones, growth hormones, steroids, thyroid hormones, etc.
And that is not the worst part!
All the merciless acts that we have mentioned are for companies, which only provide chicken meat.
There are even more cruel things left behind!
Like the fact that all of the male chickens are useless for egg companies, so they end up in a metal grinding machine which slaughters them.
This act is labeled as chick culling or unwanted chick killing.
Worldwide, around 7 billion male chicks are culled each year and that’s so brutal to be fair.
Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets
But now let’s talk about nuggets.
All of us have heard about nuggets and most of us have tried them out.
Most people who eat meat and animal products like the taste and crispiness of the nuggets while some people don’t.
A shocking fact about chicken nuggets is that, they only contain 40% chicken meat.
In other words, chicken nuggets aren’t 100% chicken meat, the amount of real chicken meat in a chicken nugget is around 40%.
Unfortunately, the other 60% percent of a chicken nugget, is mostly chicken cartilage and chicken skin with other kinds of poultry wastes.
Right now, forget about all the cons about chicken nuggets and chicken farms that you read and let’s talk about an alternative, which is better for your health.
Have you ever heard of vegan chicken nuggets?
Exactly, there are vegan chicken nuggets aka veggie nuggets which are completely 100% plant-based and don’t contain any sort of animal meat or animal product.
The cool thing about them isn’t just about being free of cruelty, vegan chicken nuggets are delicious!
In fact, all of them taste like real chicken nuggets or even better.
They are basically the finest and tastiest alternative.
Every year, the amount of people who buy vegan products, increases by a big margin and that isn’t just marketing, people actually love the taste and enjoy eating something that is cruelty-free.
You should know that when you consume vegan chicken nuggets, you are eating something that is actually good for your overall health.
Comparing Vegan Nuggets and Chicken Nuggets
So now, we are going to talk about the ingredients of vegan chicken nuggets and differences between them and real chicken nuggets and bringing nutrition facts to the table by comparing their macronutrients and then talk about the best vegan brands that provide vegan chicken nuggets and tell you which one is the best one.
The main difference despite being completely plant-based is that real chicken nuggets don’t have that good source of vegan fiber that improves your gut health.
The raw ingredients of plant-based chicken nuggets are soybean, wheat protein, etc.
The other raw materials that vegan companies use are typically legume, peas, and fava beans.
Take a look at this table which shows the ingredients comparison.
|Chicken Nuggets Ingredients||Veggie Nuggets Ingredients|
|The main ingredients are:
Chicken(with all those slaughter house wastes), wheat, water, flour.
The other ingredients (contains less than 2% of them) :
Brown sugar, corn starch, dried onion and garlic, dried yeast, paprika, oat fiber, salt, spices, wheat starch, white whole wheat flour, yellow corn flour,
|The main ingredients are:
Water, wheat flour, soy protein concentrate, vegetable oil like canola or sunflower, soy protein isolate.
The other ingredients (contains less than 2% of them) :Wheat gluten, yellow corn flour, methylcellulose, corn starch, yeast extract, sugar, natural flavors, wheat starch, dextrose, spices, onion powder, potassium chloride, yeast, glutamic acid, paprika, garlic powder
We are putting tables down below to make the comparison easier to read.
First, we have calorie content.
Which one do you think is the one with less calories?
The nuggets with the least calories are the veggie nuggets.
They contain 79 kcal fewer calories per 100 g.
(Per 100 g means per 100 grams of the product)
|Nugget Type||Calories per 100 g|
|Chicken Nuggets||300 kcal|
|Veggie Nuggets||221 kcal|
So, in this part, the obvious winner is veggie nugget.
After calorie content we are going to see which one is the best for carbohydrate content.
Carbohydrates are essential for our body because our body uses them as energy fuel.
But some people who follow keto diet completely cut down carbohydrates so their bodies adapt to use body fat instead.
Back to the main topic, take a look out the table below to see the amount of carbohydrates in both of them.
|Nuggets Type||Carbs per 100 g|
|Chicken Nuggets||16.7 g|
|Veggie Nuggets||21 g|
So, as you can see it’s obvious that veggie chicken nuggets have more carbohydrates per 100 g of product.
After calories and carbs let’s take sugar comparison into consideration.
Sugar is something that has mixed up opinions.
Some people and dietitians are totally against it and some nutritionists are in favor of it.
Check out the table of sugar comparison.
|Nuggets Type||Amount of Added Sugar|
|Chicken Nuggets||0 g|
|Veggie Nuggets||2.3 g|
(per 100 grams of product)
Plus, plant-based options, particularly veggie chicken nuggets are lower in fat.
|Nugget Type||Fat per 100 g||Saturated Fat|
|Chicken Nuggets||18.9 g||4.4 g|
|Veggie Nuggets||9.3 g||1.2 g|
let’s take a break from talking about macronutrients and check the amount of cholesterol in both of them.
Chicken nuggets contain 44 mg of cholesterol compared to vegan chicken nuggets, which have no cholesterol.
Yeah, you read that right.
Sodium is next up.
Sodium is not the same as table salt (sodium chloride) but one gram of salt contains about 0.4 g of sodium and 0.6 g of chloride.
Sodium is essential for our bodies because our bodies need sodium for muscle and nerve functions.
|Nugget Type||Sodium per 100 g|
|Chicken Nuggets||522 mg|
|Veggie Nuggets||349 mg|
Real chicken nuggets have more sodium than veggie chicken nuggets.
Right after sodium, we are going to compare the amount of minerals and vitamins.
Between real chicken nuggets and vegan chicken nuggets which one do you think is richer in minerals and vitamins?
(These numbers may change over the time)
| Vitamin/Mineral Type
|Percentage for Chicken Nuggets||Percentage for Veggie Chicken Nuggets|
|Vitamin B6||No data||10%|
Let’s get back to macronutrients.
The following table is about fiber.
|Nugget Type||Dietary Fiber per 100 g|
|Chicken Nuggets||0 g|
|Veggie Nuggets||4.7 g|
As you can see the normal chicken nugget has no fiber.
The winner in the fiber category is clearly the meat-free nugget.
And the most important of all, protein.
The macronutrient that everybody cares about and it is definitely the most frequently mentioned one which isn’t found in every food.
Mostly athletes and body builders are the ones who really care about protein.
Your muscles are made of protein and that indicates the fact that your body needs protein to build muscle.
In addition, you should know that you have to get enough protein.
|Nugget Type||Protein per 100 g|
|Chicken Nuggets||15.6 g|
|Veggie Nuggets||15.1 g|
Real chicken nuggets are slightly richer in protein but you can see it’s not that much and you should know that there is a difference between animal protein and plant-based protein.
Lastly, we are going to compare the prices.
There are loads of brands selling chicken nuggets and various brands that sell vegan nuggets.so, you should know that prices will vary between brands.
The average price of real chicken nuggets per serving is $0.64 and veggie nuggets price per serving is $1.19.
In conclusion, we can firmly say that plant-based chicken nuggets as a whole are beneficial for you. Not only because they are nutrient dense foods, but they bring you that cruelty-free tasty bites.
The Best Plant-Based Nugget Brands
following after all the things said about vegan chicken nuggets, here are the best plant-based chicken nuggets brands based on people’s choice and personal experience.
First, we get to 2 brands that people liked the most based on ratings on vegan websites and forums.
The first plant-based chicken nuggets that got the best rating (which was 86%) from the Cook Gem website:
Quorn Meatless Vegetarian-Friendly Nuggets
Caution: these plant-based chicken nuggets are not vegan and are suitable for vegetarians.
We are not going to put tables for this part but we are going to write the nutrition facts.
It’s good to know that they have 190 calories, 9 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 360 milligrams of cholesterol and 0 grams of sugar per serving.
Impossible Chicken Nuggets
Next up we have a top tier plant-based chicken nuggets that are totally vegan which means they have no animal products.
The name of the nuggets is Impossible Chicken Nuggets.
They got the rating of 79%.
They have 240 calories, 12 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar per serving.
It’s mind-blowing that they have 0 cholesterol.
Recipe of Vegan Chicken Nuggets
A opinion that has to be said is that these 2 plant-based chicken nugget brand might not be suitable for everyone due to the sodium factor.
Although the 2 nuggets that we talked about don’t have much sodium but the range of the sodium that they contain per serving is between 350 to 500 milligrams.
So, in the end we are going to show you an easy plant-based chicken nugget recipe that you can make on your own at home which has less sodium and it’s gluten-free.
The base of this home-made vegan chicken nugget is tofu.
It takes about 30 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes to cook which in total will be around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- 1 pound block of tofu
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ¾ cup nut milk
- 1 to 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup gluten free flour
- 1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup of oil
- Press your tofu to get all the excessive water out of it.
- Then, slice them and tear the tofu into 1 inch cubes.
- After that, bring a bowl and add all the marinade ingredients and stir to combine.
- Now it is the time that we do the batter and crumb mixture.
- In a bowl add the milk and the apple vinegar and stir and leave them for 2 minutes.
- Add the flour to its own bowl and put them next to each other in a line.
- In a bowl add all the crumb mixture ingredients.
- Then prepare a sheet for your tofu pieces before pan-frying them.
- Now, take one tofu piece from the marinade and dip it into the flour, then shake it off to get the excess flour out then dip it in buttermilk, shake off the excess buttermilk . Repeat this for two more times and then dip it into the crumb mixture and after that put it on the baking sheet.
- Once all your tofu pieces are done you should heat up the fan with ¼ cup of oil on medium heat.
- Cook one side of the tofu piece for 1 minute or until they are golden brown then flip it and cook the other side.
- And done!
You can now enjoy your home-made vegan chicken nuggets which are completely gluten free.
After all, we are going to have a wrap-up.
Plant-based chicken nuggets or real chicken nuggets, Which is healthier?
With all that being said, we suppose that you can clearly see that plant-based chicken nuggets are better and you can have a reason for buying them so you can at least buy them once and try them or even making them at home,not only because of one factor but for too many factors that start with morality and end with evidence of being healthier and better.