Need a versatile, protein-packed meat alternative that can be prepared in many types of cuisine? Ground beef is the main protein source for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for lots of consumers. Most leading ground beef products pack nearly 22 grams of protein per serving, so most home cooks feel wary to cut out the household meat from classic meals including bolognese and taco night. But now, plant-based meat companies have developed a massive portfolio of meat alternatives that include ground meat products, featuring healthier ingredients without sacrificing the protein count.

Whether you are a weekday flexitarian or a die-hard climatarian, vegan grounds deliver the perfect substitute for its animal-based counterpart. Ground beef is typically cooked into dishes including chili, stir-fries, pasta sauces, and more. These meatless crumbles deliver the same level of versatility in the kitchen. But beyond its versatility, it gives home cooks a chance to avoid red meat in countless meals.

Red meat is dangerous for your health, and studies have linked red meat consumption to higher levels of death and increased risk of several fatal illnesses including several heart diseases. Even though some plant-based alternatives still undergo similar processing to traditional meat, the core ingredients provide consumers with a less dangerous option. With vegan grounds, consumers can easily cut down on red meat consumption by replacing conventional grounds in some of their meals. One study suggests that adopting a mostly plant-based diet could prolong life expectancy by over 10 years!

We taste-tested plant-based meatless grounds using 10 points of criteria for health (such as whether it contains more than 3 grams of protein) and 10 attributes related to taste (including would we buy it again) to determine a score for each product. To see the entire list of attributes used in the ratings (each checkmark is worth half a beet on our Beet Meter review), take a look at the full set of requirements.

For example, nearly none of the vegan grounds offer a whole ingredient as the main ingredient, using protein isolates or blends instead. Although the vegan grounds still could be healthier, all the plant-based alternatives provide consumers with a clearly sustainable choice.

Companies including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat highlight the environmental benefits of vegan meat. Some studies even suggest that cutting out meat consumption could reduce 87 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions. Beyond claims that its vegan beef production requires 99 percent less water, uses 93 percent land, and produces 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, one main reason consumers avoid plant-based meat is the price, however, price parity between vegan meat and conventional beef may occur much sooner than expected. Recently, one expert claimed the market may meet parity by 2023. For example, Impossible Foods' vegan grounds from Target are priced at $7.99 per 12 ounces, as compared with a pound of 96 percent All Natural Lean Beef from Walmart which is selling for $6.48 a pound.

Major vegan brands have spent years developing new recipes and technologies to replicate the taste, texture, and even the look of conventional beef. These ground beef alternatives feature bold beef-like flavors created to persuade meat-eaters to adopt a more plant-based diet. We taste-tested the best-selling vegan grounds available for retail so that you can know the best brands to look out for when shopping for the whole week.

The Best Meatless Grounds, Ranked for Taste and Health

Amazon Fresh Plant-Based Ground ($7.99 per pound)

Tired of paying more for Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods? Give Amazon’s new budget-friendly plant-based grounds a try. The Fresh Brand expertly replicates the texture and taste of traditional ground beef using a pea protein base, packing in 21 grams of protein per serving! With the right seasoning, the Fresh grounds will make a wonderful replacement for traditional beef grounds. Toss these vegan grounds in a hash or stir it into a spaghetti sauce, and your friends and family won’t be able to tell the difference.

Calories 260

Total Fat 17g, Saturated Fat 6g

Protein 21g

Beyond Beef Plant-Based Ground ($9.99 per pound)

Even though Beyond Meat’s ground beef is among the most expensive, this plant-based meat is one of the tastiest and most meat-like options around. Beyond is fast becoming a freezer staple for anyone who wants to eat heart healthier. The latest recipe lowered the saturated fat by 35 percent to just 5 grams per serving. Beyond is a Non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free meat alternative and a great first step for anyone who is eager to try eating more plant-based. One complaint: before it’s cooked Beyond’s meatless grounds smell off-putting, but once seasoned and added into your favorite dish, it's nearly indecipherable from actual beef.

Calories 230

Total Fat 14g, Saturated Fat 5g

Protein 20g

Gardein Plant-Based Ground Be’f  ($5.99 per 14 ounces)

Shopping for a plant-based meat alternative can be tough on the wallet, but Gardein’s vegan ground beef is a budget-friendly choice. For $5.99 per 14 ounces, Gardein’s savory soy-based beef offers a big bang for your buck. This ground meatless beef delivers a bold flavor that adapts to any of your favorite recipes, whether you are making tacos, Shepherd’s Pie, or vegan Stroganoff.

Calories 120

Total Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 0g

Protein 18g

Impossible Foods Burger Ground ($7.99 per 12 ounces)

When it comes to taste, Impossible Foods remains the gold standard for plant-based meat alternatives. The Impossible Ground is no exception. Any home chef can add these vegan grounds to your favorite Bolognese – and meat-eaters will not notice the difference! Health-conscious consumers should know: Though it contains an impressive 19 grams of protein and a solid 3 grams of fiber, Impssoble’s grounds also contain 8 grams of saturated fat per serving.

Calories 240

Total Fat 14g, Saturated Fat 8g

Protein 19g

Incogmeato Plant-Based Ground ($6.98 for 12 ounces)

Incogmeato’s Plant-Based Ground has 67 percent less fat and nearly the same amount of protein as real ground beef, so it’s a great choice for anyone who is eating plant-based to be heart healthy. (Ground beef has 23 grams per 4-ounce serving and this has 19 grams.) Incogmeato’s plant-based ground replicates the texture and cookability of real meat without sacrificing taste. Incogmeato’s flavor is a little on the mild side so adding your favorite seasonings will make this plant-based ground a great ingredient for all your favorite dishes.

Calories 210

Total Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 2.5g

Protein 19g

Lightlife Smart Ground ($5.79 per 12 ounces)

Lightlife’s vegan meat options are among the heart-healthiest around, since they have just 1.5 grams of fat and zero saturated fat, as compared to leading competitors which can have as much as 8 grams of fat per serving or 40 percent of your daily value! Lightlife’s Smart Ground have the texture of meat but is on the bland side, which means they are highly versatile, and once seasoned, makes for a great addition to your favorite pasta sauce, chili, or taco filling.

Calories 70

Total Fat 1.5g, Saturated Fat 0g

Protein 10g

The Very Good Butcher A Cut Above Beef  ($10.44 per 12 ounces)

The Very Good Butcher’s A Cut Above Beef provides us with a high-end tasting plant-based ground, with a strong savory flavor that needs very little seasoning to be tasty. Fans of the brand suggest cooking a plant-based meatloaf mixed with the company’s vegan “A Cut Above Pork” substitute. With 19 grams of protein and 30 percent of your daily iron, this vegan meat substitute is a great choice if you want to be sure you aren’t maximizing any nutrients when you’re eating plant-based.

Calories 260

Total Fat 17g, Saturated Fat 5g

Protein 19g

More From The Beet