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Nutrition Q & A

Are There Healthy Vegetarian Options for the Traditional Holiday Turkey?

According to registered dietitian and Academy spokesperson Keri Gans, "There is no reason for vegetarians to be stuck picking at the side dishes all afternoon. 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 popular meatless holiday roasts and found advantages and disadvantages alike, compared to turkey.

  • Nutritional advantages of meatless roasts
    "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 contain no cholesterol," says Gans. In addition, she says many are good sources of fiber, providing 1 gram to 6 grams per serving. "All meatless turkey products are excellent sources of protein, ranging from 13 grams to 34 grams per serving."
  • Nutritional disadvantages of meatless roasts
    "There is one major nutritional disadvantage to the meatless turkey roasts—all are high in sodium," says Gans. Sodium content ranged from 450 milligrams to 710 mg per serving, more than 13 times the amount of sodium in real turkey breast without the skin.

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