People all over the world hold a wide range of opinions about meat and many of the plant-based alternatives that have come up for it in recent years. The objection to meat stems from the slaughter of farm animals. In the US alone, 8 million animals were killed for their meat in 2018. Advocates of animal rights argue that people should switch to plant-based meats. The question that arises then is, is plant-based meat healthy?
About plant-based meat
The vegan meat or the plant-based meat substitutes are made from mixtures of pea protein isolates, mung bean protein, rice protein, coconut oil, canola oil and other ingredients like apple extract, sunflower lecithin, potato starch, sunflower lecithin, and pomegranate powder with a range of vitamins and minerals.
With so much to add to make a single product, the ingredients are mixed and fed into a food extrusion machine that cooks the mixture while forcing it through a specially designed mechanism that uses pressure, steam and cold water to form the product’s chicken-like texture. In the current scenario, there are only two main hyped players in the market; Beyond Meat and Impossible Food.
What the numbers say about plant-based meats
Plant-based meat is the new emerging product in today’s world. As of May, Beyond Meat had the best IPO so far in 2019 surging more than 161% on the day of its market debut. In addition, it has also made some big deals with Dunkin, Del Taco and TGI Friday’s to name a few.
Impossible Foods products are now in about 10,000 restaurants which include White Castle, Red Robin and Burger King, with future plans to launch in grocery stores in September. The market to these meat substitutes is expected to hit $2.6 Billion by 2023, as per Euromonitor’s figures.
Expert opinions about meat alternatives
As grandiose as this market looks, there is also a different side of story attached to it. John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods who has been a vegan for more than 18 years, isn’t sold on the health benefits of plant-based meats. Plant-based meats are made from ingredients which are highly processed, and processed foods aren’t healthy at all. And Mackey isn’t alone. Even some dietitians aren’t completely sold on the plant-based burger craze either.
Even if we compare both the plant-based and real meat by taking an example of beef burgers; these plant-based meat burgers are not necessarily healthier than real meat beef burgers.” Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian, also pointed out that both plant-based burgers and traditional beef burgers have the same amount of sodium and saturated fat.
Plant-based meats are healthier for the environment
According to a study by Beyond Meat with the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, a plant-based burger generates 85% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 42% less energy, has 98% less impact on water scarcity, and 92% less impact on land use than a ¼ pound of traditional U.S. beef.
Lastly, differentiated views are always in place when something new comes into the market. Considering the factors, we can arrive at the conclusion that although plant-based meat has a significant impact on the environment, the ingredients are clearly made out of highly processed foods which are undoubtedly not healthy.
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