It’s been quite astonishing to witness how big food manufacturers have somehow faked-out millions of Americans into believing the new “plant-based” foods—like processed veggie burgers and imitation dairy—are good for human health and for the planet. When, clearly, they’re a disaster for both.
Indeed, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years explaining how these ultra-processed, fake meat and dairy products do NOT benefit your health. (Just look up “fake meat” in the search box on my website if you need a refresher.)
So, today, I’m going to focus on debunking the claim that following a “plant-based” diet is somehow better for the environment. Because the truth is, the entire plant-based industry is a huge scam and anything but “eco-friendly”…
Fake meat companies rely on harmful monocropping
At the moment, there are two major players in the plant-based, fake meat industry: Beyond Meat® (which makes the Dunkin’® sandwich) and Impossible Meat® (which makes the Burger King® sandwich). But other companies, like Hormel®, Purdue®, Smithfield®, and Tyson Foods®, have also begun to get in on the action.
Overall, these industrialized, agro-businesses manufacture highly processed products made with cheap, mass-produced plants that grow like weeds. Which, if nothing else, makes the industry extremely profitable. (No wonder the stock prices of these fake meat companies have skyrocketed in the last 12 months!)
For example, the Impossible Burger® is made with protein from genetically modified (GM) soy—which is a major health hazard in itself. And the Beyond Burger® is made from processed pea protein isolate.
Processed pea protein is marginally better for you (maybe) than GM soy. But they’re both highly problematic for the environment…
For one, suppliers rely on “monocropping” to produce the massive amounts of soybeans, peas, and other “plant matter” required to make the fake meat.
Monocropping refers to the agricultural practice of growing the same, single crop year after year on the same huge tracts of land…instead of rotating different crops in the space and over time. And it results in a cascade of related problems.
For example, it tends to strip the land of its nutrients and weakens the soil. Therefore, the nutritional content of plants grown on monocropped land is far inferior to those grown in a crop rotation. In addition, it tends to result in an increase in parasites and pests—which the farmer must then control by using harmful herbicides and pesticides.
Now, let’s take a look at the sprawling supply chain required to get these crops to the manufacturing plants where they make the “meat”…
Massive, worldwide supply chain anything but eco-friendly
After the mass-produced crops are harvested, they’re sent to big industrial plants for processing. (Most of which are located in China.) And aside from the obvious current concerns about the coronavirus, China was already infamous for its problems with contamination and quality control.
Of course, Beyond Meat® knows about these problems. Which is why they just signed a big deal with Roquette, a French company, to make its pea isolate protein instead.
Appropriately enough, this French company was an obvious choice as it also makes chemicals, pet feeds, plasticizers, polyesters, and polyurethanes. Indeed, fake meat has more in common with these processed, artificial chemicals than it does with real human food!
Plus, there’s the huge environmental toll of getting the processed “plant matter” shipped all the way back over to manufacturing plants in the U.S.—where they actually “make” the burgers and other products. Just think of all the gas and energy of the refrigerated boats and trucks used to get it all back here to the U.S. Not to mention the energy used to produce and package the final product!
It’s all a huge, money-making scam
In the end, the whole enterprise is a huge scam—and an environmental disaster in the making. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon, as they enlist masses of credulous consumers in false hopes for their health and the environment.
But no matter how much hype surrounds them, these processed, plant-based foods are not good for you OR for the environment. On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence to show that raising free-range chickens and cattle (using sustainable grazing practices) is good for the grasslands and the environment!
So, instead of jumping on the fake meat bandwagon, stick with a wholesome, time-tested, Mediterranean-type diet that gives your body what it really wants and needs—real meat and full-fat dairy from organically raised, free-range, grass-fed and -finished cattle and poultry. After all, it’s what humans have been eating naturally for thousands of years!
As a reminder, on a Mediterranean-type diet you can enjoy:
- Full-fat dairy, including butter, eggs, cheeses, and yogurts
- Wild-caught fish and grass-fed and -finished, free-range meat, especially lamb, which has the best nutritional profile of all meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Olive oil
- Whole grains and potatoes (with skins), in moderation
- Alcohol, in moderation
Also, try to get as much of your food as possible from local sources. Generally, it’s far less likely that food from a local farmer will contain GM ingredients than food from a large commercial farm or supermarket. Plus, by buying local, you’ll be supporting the people who are really invested in keeping the environment healthy right where they live and work.
I also suggest getting to know the sellers at your neighborhood farmer’s market—and learning about their practices. The truth is, many farmers at my local market sell produce grown without pesticides…but they can’t afford to apply for federal “organic” status. The same goes for farmers who raise grass-fed beef and free-range chickens.
So, ask around and talk to the farmers themselves. You might be surprised by what you learn. Very often, you can get “organic” and “sustainable” produce right down the street from your very own home. And it will cost a whole lot less than what you’ll pay at Whole Foods®!
If you still need help cutting through all the clutter about fake meat, take a look at the September 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“Cage-free, grass-fed, organic…oh my!”) to help bring home the healthiest whole foods. Subscribers have access to all of my content in the archives. So if you haven’t already, click here to sign up today!
P.S. My daughter and her husband have expanded their organic egg and produce business to include sweet and savory desserts (think gluten-free scones and organic, seasonal treats) and even homemade soaps! They have also started a farm co-op on weekends to host other local sellers. You’ll find everything from delicious, organic foods to homemade arts and crafts. Details, directions, and updates are posted here regularly: https://www.facebook.com/CozziFamily/. So, if you’re in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, please consider stopping by!
“Beyond Burger.” Beyond Meat, 9/3/19. (beyondmeat.com/products/the-beyond-burger/)
“Great Taste, Plant-Based: Dunkin’ Parters with Beyond Meat® to Introduce New Beyond Sausage® Breakfast Sandwich in Manhattan.” Dunkin’ Donuts, 7/27/19. (news.dunkindonuts.com/news/beyond-meat-dunkin)
“Beyond Meat® and Roquette announce multi-year pea protein supply agreement.” Roquette, 1/14/20. (roquette.com/media-center/press-center/2020-01-15-beyond-meat-and-roquette-announce-multi-year-pea-protein-supply-agreement)
“UBS predicts plant-based meat sales could grow by more than 25% a year to $85 billion by 2030.” Markets Insider, 7/19/19. (markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/beyond-meat-ubs-plant-based-meat-market-85-billion-2030-2019-7-1028367962#)
“Beyond Meat and its Rivals Rely on Chinese Ingredients, Opening Food-Safety Debate In the COVID-19 Era.” Newsweek, 5/2/20. (geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/05/07/plant-based-beef-ingredients-from-china-may-hurt-impossible-foods-beyond-meat-sales/)