The Plant-Based Meat Choice

The Plant-Based Meat Choice

Over the last decade, conventional food choices have been morphing into a whole new realm. As factory farming shows signs of taking its toll on your environment and your health, more people are turning to alternative, seemingly healthier food decisions. This has created a pendulum swing that hasn’t seemed to settle in the middle just yet. 

Mainstream food conglomerates are fighting back with more unhealthy choices while some join the ranks, offering plant-based food right alongside animal products. Plant-based meat is all the rage with names like ‘Impossible’ or ‘Beyond’ this food technology has many re-thinking how they want to navigate their health. 

Explore this alternative meat revolution to see if choosing a non-meat burger is a better choice for your health and the environment.

Save the Planet

The factory farming industry cannot pull the wool over the eyes of the public anymore. Too many studies have shown the environmental risks of meat produced in such inhumane ways that group after group of earth advocates have exposed great injustices done all around. 

Farm Sanctuary reported on the environmental impact of global meat production stating that, 

  • The EPA has estimated that, between 1990 and 2005, methane emissions from pig and cow operations rose 37 percent and 50 percent respectively, largely due to the greater
  • Upwards of 75 percent of the antibiotics fed to farm animals end up undigested in their urine and manure. Through this waste, the antibiotics may contaminate crops and waterways and ultimately be ingested by humans.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that 70 percent of land formerly supporting Amazon rainforests has been turned over to grazing.
  • Producing one pound of beef takes an estimated 1,581 gallons of water, which is roughly as much as the average American uses in 100 showers.

Plant-based meat offers some drastically different numbers. 

According to a study by the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability titled, ‘U-M life cycle assessment shows sustainability benefits of plant-based meat over conventional beef’ it was reported that plant-based meat has, 

  • 99% less impact on water scarcity
  • 93% less impact on land use
  • 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions
  • Nearly 50% less energy

Lead research specialist, Dr. Martin Heller commented, 

“We conducted a rigorous analysis of the Beyond Burger’s environmental footprint, from producing raw ingredients through delivery to retailers,…Our report then underwent an independent peer review process that validated our approach and the results, showing the overwhelming benefits that the Beyond Burger offers over beef. We know that, in general, plant-based foods have lower impacts than beef, but very few studies have looked directly at commercially available products. This study confirms that products made to look and taste like beef can have significantly lower impacts, as well.”

The numbers speak for themselves, choosing a meat alternative will have a much more positive effect on the environment.

Save Your Health

Conventional medicine is beginning to abstain from the labels vegan (no animal products whatsoever) and vegetarian (no animal products except dairy and eggs). For mainstream consumer education, these words are being replaced with ‘plant-based’. Most shun when they hear vegan and vegetarian due to all the stigma attached but plant-based seems to be an easier pill to swallow. You don’t have to completely crossover to this way of eating but it is recommended that you try to incorporate more plant-based choices to enhance your health. 

Overconsumption of high protein dishes such as animal meat presents a variety of potential health risks. A report by CNBC,

“Generally speaking, over-consuming protein, at levels higher than the RDA [recommended daily allowance], (with protein powders and high meat and meat analog intake) is far too common, putting people at risk for a metabolic burden on the bones, kidneys, and liver, as well as an increased risk for coronary heart disease due to intake of saturated fat and cholesterol or even cancer.” 

Plant-based meat that replaces at least three or four out of seven meat based meals could be less taxing on your body and make a difference.

Harvard Medical School reported that,

“…according to researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who studied dietary data from more than 90,000 people over an average of 22 years. Heart disease risk was lower when unhealthy saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, or trans fat was replaced by plant-based monounsaturated fat, but not by animal-based monounsaturated fat. Higher intake of the plant-based fats was associated with a 16% lower risk of dying from any cause. In contrast, higher intake of the animal-based fats was linked to a 21% higher risk of dying from any cause.”

Give your body a break and mix up your diet with plant-based meat choices. Do keep in mind that, like meat, these are processed foods so relying on them is not recommended. Always keep fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains in your diet with sporadic consumption of plant-based meats for well rounded healthy meals.