As a vegan for more than three decades, I have lived through the many attempts by food manufacturers to “perfect” fake meat via the veggie burger, soy dog, faux deli meats and beef crumbles, and chik nuggets. Admittedly, many of the early attempts were quite unedible. But current offerings demonstrate how persistence pays off, so much so that many of the products on the market are darn close to the “real” thing.
I believe the improvements in the fake meat market is important for people who want to make the transition to a plant-based diet as well as those vegetarians and vegans who enjoy having such options. On a larger scale, it is immensely important for the animals who will not be abused and killed for their flesh and for the meaningful lesser impact on the environment.
Further research should be conducted into creative, sustainable, and delicious ways to expand upon and promote the fake meat and plant-based protein market. Such steps are, I believe, necessary to help motivate and educate the public about the importance of moving away from an unsustainable, cruel, animal-based diet toward an environmentally conscious, ethical plant-based one.
Why fake meat for real change
We already produce enough food to feed the people in the world. Yet much of the food raised is fed to food animals who give us a pathetic return rate. How pathetic? A recent article in Outside Magazine stated the case:
“Only about 3 percent of the plant matter that goes into a steer winds up as muscle. The rest gets burned for energy, ejected as methane, blown off as excess heat, shot out the back of the beast, or repurposed into non-meat-like things such as blood, bone, and brains….Roughly three-fifths of all farmland is used to grow beef, although it accounts for just 5 percent of our protein.”
In addition to these figures, don’t forget to mention the horrific conditions under which these sentient creatures live.
Yet we continue to dump big money into furthering the madness. For example, an article from May 2015 about the efforts of Chinese scientists to raise GMO (genetically modified organism) beef was especially disturbing. The team introduced a gene from a nematode worm with coding for enzymes that involve the transformation of omega-6 fatty acids into omega-3 fatty acids. Essentially, they programmed the cattle to be rich in healthful fish oils.
Fourteen calves were given the special gene (fat1 gene) to boost omega-3 levels. Of those, 11 died at less than four months of age, primarily from an infection often seen in cattle. One of the scientists who conducted the study, lead author Gong Cheng, was noted to say that “There is much to learn about the best scientific techniques and the best husbandry required to make beef a rich animal source of omega-3 oils for human nutrition, but we have taken the first step.”
Step up for fake meat and real change
I say, you are stepping in the wrong direction. Stop messing with Nature. Stop using helpless animals. Stop using crops that could be used to feed people but are instead being used to feed animals for a return that is incredibly low. These steps are only adding to another food crisis in the world: the amount of food that is wasted—one third of the food produced around the world is never consumed. Yet one in nine people around the globe go hungry.
Face it: If someone asked you to invest in a venture in which only 3 percent of what you invested came back as usable product, would you bankroll it? What if they wanted you to use 60 percent of your assets to get back only 5 percent? No way! What an enormous waste of resources! Yet this is the way we produce animal protein.
Which brings me back to fake meat. The faux meat market is rich with products that are produced from a variety of plants, ranging from mushrooms to soy, peas, beans, and various grains. At Beyond Meat, for example, the company’s CEO, Ethan Brown, actually refers to his pea-protein-based burgers (the Beast Burger) not as meat-like substances, but as meat (protein) from plants.
Yes, people like their meat. And yes, change can be difficult, especially when it comes to asking people to make alterations in their diet. Part of the secret to making this transformation will be making it palatable—not only to the taste buds but to the mind and spirit as well.
Some innovative individuals and companies have made great advances on the taste and texture part—Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are just two examples. We need more people to step up and embrace the concept with their mind, spirit, and grocery choices.
We need to understand and celebrate the positive aspects of such a change and how it will benefit all of us personally—as individuals, families, a global family, and the Home on which we live. Everyone needs to be part of the real change.
Also read Wasting Food is a Crime
MedicalNewsToday. GMO beef.
Outside Magazine. The top-secret food that will change the way you eat.