No one is going to argue that sausages are a health food. However, plenty of people would probably be willing to argue the vegetarian sausages are at least a healthier option. By simply avoiding processed meat, veggie products circumvent those unfortunate World Health Organization warnings about meat’s possible connection to cancer. Additionally, meat-free sausages tend to be lower in saturated fat. However, according to a new report from the UK’s Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH), when it comes to salt content, vegetarian sausages can be just as bad as their animal counterparts.
To be fair, this new research from CASH did not set out to slam vegetarian sausages: It slams all sausages equally. “This survey really exposes how dangerously salty most sausages are,” Mhairi Brown, Assistant Nutritionist at CASH, said in a statement. However, if you were hoping that the health benefits of veggie sausages included reducing your salt intake, think again.
“Going meat free isn’t always healthier in terms of salt either; some vegetarian options are just as salty,” CASH wrote in its press release. “[Vegetarian brand] Quorn’s 4 Best of British Sausages have a whopping 1.9 grams salt/100 grams dishing up 2.2 grams salt in 2 sausages—that’s more salt than half a Pizza Hut Margherita Pizza!” And Quorn wasn’t the only vegetarian brand with a product to garner a “red” warning on CASH’s red, yellow and green salt scale. Two offerings from the Linda McCartney line—its Vegetarian Sausages and Vegetarian Red Onion & Rosemary Sausages—also scored CASH’s worst rating.
For its part, Quorn included a statement as part of CASH’s announcement explaining, “Quorn produces a range of sausages, with its bestselling Quorn Sausages being low in salt and highlighted on the front of pack…. The range featured by CASH is Quorn’s Best of British Sausages which offers slightly more indulgent sausages. Whilst they are higher in salt, as clearly marked on pack, they are still low in saturated fat.” Additionally, the Linda McCartney brand also had products on the list which didn’t score so poorly on CASH’s scale.
Still, CASH’s findings bring up at least two major takeaways. First, many sausage brands may be more salty than you realize. “Eating a sausage sandwich for breakfast could provide more salt than a double cheeseburger and large fries,” the organization proclaims. But second, don’t assume that just because your sausages are meat-free that they’re healthier across the board. Do your due diligence and check the label.