Fake Meat vs. Real Food


What constitutes a healthy diet?  The answer depends upon whom you ask, and what science or evidence-based experiences they refer to for support.  Ask anyone if a healthy diet includes or excludes wheat, sugar, dairy, meat, soy, beans or grains, high oxalate plants, caffeine or alcohol and you will get a variety of answers.

Despite this lack of consensus, there is one piece of dietary advice most people can agree upon: Avoid highly processed foods that typically come packaged in a box with a long list of ingredients. In other words, Eat Real Food, mainly plants and animals we can easily identify from a child’s nursery book about farm life. To find this food, shop from the perimeter of the grocery store (the produce section, the butcher area) and avoid the center aisles of boxes, cans and plastic bags. Simple, right?

Just when you thought it safe to go back into the grocery store and shop the perimeter aisles of fresh food, there’s a “new” pseudo-food in town. Indeed there are two of them: the brands are “Beyond Burger” and the “Impossible Burger”. These are “plant based” burger-type foods designed to replicate the taste and texture of beef or chicken. Tellingly, they can be found in many fast-food chains as well as the grocery store, marketed as a “healthy” alternative to meat.

Interestingly, the main market for these types of fake meat foods are not vegetarians or vegans. Most of the people buying or at least trying these foods are omnivores who are curious or who buy into the healthy hype. Here’s why I will never be one of those people:

The "Beyond Burger" contains: Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Dried Yeast, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Acetic Acid, Succinic Acid, Modified Food Starch, Annatto (for color).
The "Impossible Burger" contains: Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

By contrast, here is what my home cooked burger contains: Beef (grass fed, preferably), salt, pepper.

Don’t buy the hype.  Processed foods that come out of a chemical lab are not the answer to obesity, heart disease, or even Global Warming (a subject for another article!) It’s just another marketing scheme to make food corporations rich at the expense of our health, real food, gustatory satisfaction and a connection to our kitchens and each other around the table.

--Andrea Winchester
Certified Primal Blueprint Coach