Where’s The Beef?


The most successful IPO since 2000 was achieved by Beyond Meat, Inc. (BYND) last week. The company raised almost a quarter-billion dollars in one day! Kudos to the founder Ethan Brown for a job well done. With Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, we have access to two of the finest technological meat substitute products ever created.

Both boast about their high-profile, celebrity investors. Both “meat” products are reported to smell, tasted and even bleed like the real thing. Yet, I still have many reservations about these products.

When I first converted to veganism in 1989, I ate all the vegan meat products imaginable. I consumed veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs, seitan cutlets and pea protein ground beef. So I completely understand the craze over fake meat products, especially for those newbie vegans.

But after my personal craze subsided and I began to look a little deeper into what those products are composed of, my skepticism began to grow. Let’s take a look at the ingredients of the Beyond Burger from its website (https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/the-beyond-burger/)…

water, pea protein, 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).

To be honest, I’m frightened by the items in capital letters because my research has shown that they are laboratory creations. Intuitively we may think fake burgers are plant-based. And, yes they are. But many of those ingredients were not picked from a garden.

A food scientist, not a farmer, brought those products to the table. For instance, GUM ARABIC is used in the production of glue. Although they may have been deemed safe for human consumption in small amounts, something smells fishy about it to me. One of Michael Pollan’s food rules In Defense of Food is to stay away from products with labels on them. Anything with a label on it—vegan or not—is mass produced and highly processed.  Essentially, that means it contains all sorts of laboratory-created food additives that may be toxic to your body.

Don’t be mortified when you find out you may be consuming paint, detergent and/or deodorant chemicals in your vegan products. It’s almost impossible to get around it.

As I’ve always professed, your best option is to eat whole foods from the produce aisle of the supermarket. There are usually no labeled foods there to confuse you.


(Kirk Charles is the author of The 1st Aisle: How to Eat for Maximum Health)


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