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Why Your Meatless Fast-Food Burger Could Be Covered in Animal Residue
By Brian Mastroianni
Earlier this year, fast-food giant Burger King announced it was going to offer a vegetarian-friendly version of its signature sandwich: the Impossible Whopper.
The new burger would use a patty from Impossible Foods, a company that makes plant-based substitutes for dairy and meat food products.
While welcome news at first for vegetarian and vegan consumers who in the past have always had difficulty finding options that work for them at places like their local Burger King, the new veggie option comes with a caveat.
On its website's description of the Impossible Whopper, the second-largest burger chain in the United States offers an asterisk: The patty is prepared on the "same broiler used for beef and chicken."
According to Fox Business, Burger King patrons reportedly have the option to ask that their veggie burgers be cooked in separate broilers from the meat products.
This is often a request that people who adhere to vegan diets make: not wanting their meals to be prepared alongside meat items, keeping animal residue from their food.
Whether this is a problem for you or not depends on how strict your stipulations are for adhering to a meat-free diet, says Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center.
"I do see a lot of restaurants preparing, beginning vegetarian burgers on the same grill as they do other burgers. I think it kind of depends on how strict the person was," Hunnes told Healthline.
"I for one would personally request that card on a different grill. However, I don't always know if this is feasible. Either way, it is definitely a step in the right direction to be offering these types of burgers," she said.
Registered dietitian Amber Pankonin, MS, LMNT, adds that some vegetarians and vegans are more strict for religious purposes, for instance.
On the flip side, she says there are plenty who share the same grill at home while eating with meat-eating family members. As with anything, those who are on vegetarian and vegan diets fall on a wide spectrum of experience.
If you're on a plant-based diet or one that avoids animal products of any kind and are planning a night out, is there a common protocol for inquiring about how your food is prepared?
Pankonin told Healthline this differs depending on the circumstance. For example, there's a difference between someone's food preference and concerns over a food allergy.
She says that being a vegetarian or vegan is often seen as a "food preference" in many commercial kitchens.
"When it comes to knowing how your food is prepared, unless you are actually there to observe in person, it's probably a guessing game. If you are truly concerned, it would be wise to look at the menu online and then call ahead and ask how vegetarian or vegan options are prepared," she said.
Hunnes says if you have questions about salt in your food, certain types of oils, other allergens, or, in this case, vegetarian or vegan requests, she suggests you ask whether the restaurant has the "ability to prepare the food in the way you want it prepared."
If the establishment can't accommodate you, she says it's your choice to go elsewhere.
Pankonin cautions that sometimes people mistake vegan and vegetarian options as being automatically "healthy." She says these aren't always the healthiest options on a menu when it comes to overall calories and sodium content.
For her clients with concerns about this, Pankonin encourages them to always apply the basic principles of MyPlate, the nutrition guide published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
She stresses that you should always check the nutrition facts of any given dish if you're worried about calories or sodium.
"If there are no nutrition facts available, you can always ask the server how the meal is prepared and ask for substitutions if necessary," Pankonin said.
"If you truly desire to eat a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet, you should include a variety of plant-based foods and not just rely on overly processed meatless options," she added.
The Bottom Line
Back in spring, fast-food chain Burger King announced it was going to offer a vegetarian-friendly Impossible Whopper made out of plant-based ingredients instead of meat.
When reading the fine print on its website, some vegetarian and vegan customers might be dismayed to see the default preparation for these patties is for them to be cooked on the same broilers as beef and chicken items.
Dietitians stress that whether this concerns you will depend on how strictly you adhere to your vegetarian or vegan diet.
Do your research. If you're unclear about the ingredients of a dish when dining out or want to know more about how it's prepared, read the menu online beforehand, and make sure to ask your server.
If it isn't made in a way that serves your diet or takes into account a food allergy, you can politely ask to have it prepared in a specific way for you.
However, remember you might have to seek a different dining option if the restaurant can't accommodate you.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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