The emergence of fake meat, which is more commonly referred to as meat alternatives have been on the rise since both the vegetarian and vegan movement has become increasingly popular. Yet, for those who are not familiar with these alternatives, the idea of fake meat may seem weird and unappealing. With fake meat sales on the rise, many are now wondering “What is fake meat?”
Fake meat can now be found not just in most major grocery stores but also in most restaurants whether vegan or not. The reason for this seemingly sudden growth is that many people are choosing to reduce their meat consumption as a way of reducing their environmental impact amidst growing concerns over climate change. The animal industry and its controversial practices have also led to many people embracing a more plant-based lifestyle.
While two of the biggest players in this market, Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger, are actively promoted online both by influencers and celebrities, the questions of whether these alternatives are actually healthy and good for the planet have started growing more. Plant-based fake meats are not the only alternative right now as other companies have been looking at potentially producing lab-grown meat.
So, are fake meats actually good for both the planets and your health?
The growing demand for meat alternatives has led to a rise in products that are not similar to the older tofu-based meat substitutes. Tofu which is created from soy has been shown to not be as healthy for humans. This is why many meat substitutes making “meatless” products have resorted to using other sources for their fake meats.
The two most popular Beyond Meat and Impossible foods have both been used by scientists to create products that both visually resemble meat more, and are closer in taste as well. For example, Beyond meat uses pea protein and other plant-based proteins on their burger combined with beat juice. This gives the illusion of a traditional juicy burger.
Lab meats on the other hand are much closer to the real thing. These meats are grown from the cell tissues taken from real meat. As this process is quite new these products are not readily available on the market but there is a lot of potential there if they can successfully produce these lab-grown meats.
To determine whether these products are truly good for your health we would need to look at their ingredient list, which widely varies depending on the company that you are buying from as well as their production. The reality is that these products are highly processed and as such their health benefits can be limited. In fact, processed foods have been shown to have many negative effects on the health of those who consumed them on a daily basis. Just because these processed foods are plant-based does not negate the negative effects that they have on the human body.
However, meat produced on a large industrial scale is also not the healthiest for humans. In most cases, the meat consumed by people who just buy it in the grocery store is neither grass-fed nor raised in an ethical environment. Instead, mass farming crams many animals into small spaces. Industrial agriculture has led to mass levels of increase in various different diseases in animals. As an effect, the animals you are consuming will have most likely been heavily medicated in order to combat some of these illnesses. This is not the healthiest approach to eating, which is why many people have been turning their gaze to what is considered to be more ethical farming.
Mass farming does not only have a negative effect on the meat quality that people are consuming, and by extension on human health. It can also have many negative effects on the planet. Current production styles are unsustainable. Mass farming is responsible for 37% of methane (CH4) emissions and 14.5% of our total emissions. This means that its effects on global warming are direr than the effects of the transportation industry.
For those passionate about climate change and combatting it, moving away from an industry that can cause such harm seems like an obvious choice. However, one should not forget that better mono-cropped fields that are filled with artificial fertilizers and herbicides are not a solution either. And yet, they are what is usually necessary for the creation of all these fake meats. What’s more these fields will often deplete water sources, which can be a big problem, especially in areas that suffer from water scarcity.
To put it simply, both of these products can have negative effects on both the human body and the planet. What’s more the lack of actual disclosures on the exact things and products used in both of these production methods lead to even more questions about their benefits.
Fake meats are by no means an amazing alternative in the way that they are normally presented to be. While they can definitely be a more ethical option and could even potentially have positive effects on the planet due to the reduction of mass farming, there are many questions about their production patterns that are still left unanswered. This is a big problem for those who truly want to know both what is going on in their body and the actual effect that those foods have on the planet.