I’m a Vegan and Plant-Based Food Advocate. This is why I say NO To Lab-Grown Meat.
Remember when plant-based meat was heralded as the next great invention in the food industry? Start-ups began popping out meat alternatives at breakneck speed.
Of course, the opportunity was too great to ignore. The largest food corporations – Tyson, Hormel, Nestle, Perdue, Smithfield – jumped in too.
And just as fast as they jumped in, they all jumped back out. Beyond Meat recently laid off 19 percent of its workforce. Planterra closed its processing facility. McDonald’s tabled its McPlant burger.
What does that say about plant-based meat? Is there a future? Or maybe the question should be: How do we define the future?
Let’s talk about this plant-based meat
If you look at a Beyond Meat Burger, it appears to be a healthier version of a traditional hamburger. It even states it’s a “plant-based burger” that “has the juicy, meaty deliciousness of a traditional burger” but comes with the “upsides of a plant-based meal”. It promises:
- No GMOs
- No gluten
- No soy
- Plant-based protein
What’s not to love?
Dive a little deeper, and you’ll find the ingredient list:
Water, pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavors, dried yeast, cocoa butter, methylcellulose, and less than 1% of potato starch, salt, potassium chloride, beet juice color, apple extract, pomegranate concentrate, sunflower lecithin, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, vitamins and minerals (zinc sulfate, niacinamide [vitamin B3], pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], cyanocobalamin [vitamin B12], calcium pantothenate).
Look really hard at that list of ingredients. What’s missing?
If you said “plants”, you’re correct.
None of those ingredients can actually be classified as plants. There might be derivatives of plants, but they were processed before they made it to the ingredient list.
Plant-based burger? Hmmm …
[I may be using Beyond Burger as an example, but I could use any of them, and the list of ingredients would be similar.]
It gets worse – lab-made meat
Beyond Burger and other substitutes grew in size because of their ability to create a burger-like experience. They mimic the bloodiness of beef. They marble like beef. They even taste like beef.
These companies are looking for a way to step beyond “faking it” to find a way that mimics meat more closely, without relying on animals for production.
Enter lab-made meat. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in November 2022 that laboratory-grown chicken is now “safe to eat.” While this is specifically for cultivated chicken produced by Upside Foods, other synthetic meat products will soon follow in their footsteps. What works for one opens up doors to many.
In theory, it’s hard to argue with it. It solves many problems. From their website:
- It’s safe and delicious
- It uses cells from a chicken instead of a live chicken
- It reduces animal cruelty
- It uses less water than animal production
- It reduces the susceptibility to animal-borne diseases
Sounds great, right?
Then why do I have a problem with it?
I agree that our current approach to eating meat isn’t sustainable. Our obsession with meat has grown too large, and the production side is riddled with problems. CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) have reached exorbitant sizes, housing “more than 1000 animal units (an animal unit is defined as an animal equivalent of 1000 pounds live weight and equates to 1000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2500 swine weighing more than 55 pounds, 125 thousand broiler chickens or 82 thousand laying hens).”
They live in tight quarters, are fed high-protein diets to fatten up quickly, use large quantities of antibiotics just to stay alive, and are riddled with disease.
Yes, I believe that’s a recipe for disaster. I think it’s already showing up in our health.
Lab meat is supposedly better because it’s extracted from muscle stem cells from an animal and grown to produce muscle tissue in the laboratory setting. The tissue is fed, shaped, and structured to become a recognizable meat product.
It takes time in a lab to produce something that resembles meat.
What are the long-term implications? At this point, nobody knows.
Plants provide better nutrition and are better for you
In our quest to industrialize the planet, we’ve lost what it takes to be healthy and self-sufficient.
A recent conversation with a forty-year-old woman proved the point. She argued about where butter comes from. She honestly didn’t know.
And therein lies the problem. We’ve completely lost touch with where our food originates. In the process, we’ve lost touch with our survival skills.
You can’t care for it if you don’t know where it comes from or how it’s produced. And production can take ugly turns, all for the sake of profit.
A tomato (or a carrot or an apple) starts with a seed. It grows from nutrient-dense soil. It uses water and sunshine to build energy and ripen. You consume it in its original form.
Compare that with a boxed meal on a grocery store’s shelf. Every portion of it is processed from a variety of ingredients. None of it is close to the original form.
Is plant production completely healthy? Definitely not. Companies have profitized that too.
Including many of the “plant-based meat” products being produced.
They’re produced as a part of a trend, not to improve the population’s health. They’re constructed with buzzwords in mind, not to improve one’s health.
There are better ways.
Yet the solution is easy.
Shop the produce section. Better yet, grow a garden. You quickly learn what you can do with all the fabulous foods you’ll find there. And I guarantee you that when you make it a habit of getting back into your kitchen, you’ll fall in love with all it offers.
Plant-Based Veggie Burgers
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed ?
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour?
- 4 green onions, minced?
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro ?
- 2 garlic cloves, minced?
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin?
- 1 teaspoon sriracha ?
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander?
- Salt and pepper, to taste?
- 1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed coarsely ?
- Rinse black beans. Place between two towels for ten minutes to remove moisture. ?
- Place tortilla chips in food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add black beans and pulse a few times until roughly broken down. ?
- In a bowl, mix all other ingredients. Add the black bean mixture and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or up to 24 hours. ?
- Divide into 4 to 6 portions, depending on how large you want your burgers to be. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium heat. Cook until bottoms are well browned, then turn and repeat. ?