Posted on Nov 04, 2019, 4 p.m.
Just because something is “plant-based” doesn’t necessarily mean it is automatically good for you. Plant-based “meat” currently enjoys the perception of being touted as being healthier than real meat, but this genetically engineered artificial goo has more sodium as well as calories than real meat, and it can cause weight gain.
Hypocritically many claim organics only but then back plant based meat, well now you can’t have it both ways, either you are for GMO or you are not. You may want to rethink those shoes and furniture as well, leather and all. Irony is the opposite of wrinkly. Americans are being chided out of eating meat, consumption has dropped by 24% since 1976 when its consumption had been tied to a list of health problems, until now.
Annals of Internal Medicine published three studies asking the question of whether previous studies had any meat on their bones. The report analyzed 61 studies involving over 4 million participants to investigate whether red meat affected the risk of developing heart disease and cancer; all three studies came to the same conclusion: lowering red meat consumption was found to have little to no effect on reducing the risk of cancer, stroke, or heart disease.
So why is it that so many studies have been wrong, you may ask, nutritional studies most often rely on survey based observational studies that track groups of people, the food they eat, or try to link past eating habits to current state of health. These results can be something akin to a crime chart with random red strings connecting possible suspects. The problem is that observational studies rely on participant recall going back up to a month, and even when food diaries are used issues still arise as research has shown that participants most often don’t record honest answers to pad entries with good stuff while leaving out the bad. The matter of accurately reporting portions sizes and knowing the ingredients in all meals, especially when dining out is also another strong concern.
Nutritional studies have much room for error, the better form of study would be to seclude participants in area for a period of time in order to precisely control what and how much they consume and then measure the outcomes. This structure may raise some ethical issues, even if it was fully under consent, which is why observational studies are more common, even if flawed.
Then we have certain companies trying to cash in on the misconception of the artificially engineered fake goo turned into meat’s claim to healthfulness. 46% of American’s believe that plant based meat is better for you than real meat thanks to marketing according to Mintel market research; and these shaming anti-real meat messages may be leading to less healthful choices.
The perception of being healthier is a perception that is far from being iron clad reality. Lean beef burgers have an average of close to 20% fewer calories and a whopping 80% less sodium than the popular engineered fake meat of Beyond and Impossible Burgers. Let’s not forget that this engineered goo is also ultra-processed and filled with unpronounceable ingredients. Ultra-processed foods have been shown to cause weight gain in a recent study from the National Institutes of Health, and this was not an observational study, this was a controlled and randomized study.
Beyond the flawed attempts at shaming with health claims that need to be evaluated and deserve a second look, we’ve also been shamed into thinking that reducing meat consumption is essential to saving the planet. Despite what the meat critics try to say, if everyone in America were to suddenly go vegan overnight the total greenhouse gas emissions across the nation would only be reduced by 2.6% without farmed animals because of increases associated with producing additional food crops and the use of more synthetic fertilizer.
Since the 1960s American GHG emissions from livestock has decreased by 11.3% while the production of animal farming has almost doubled; meat production plays a relatively minor part in contributing to the American overall GHG levels, but this may be different in other countries.
Breaking out in lecture and attempting to shame people into going meat free is not the answer. Making stricter environmental pollution regulations to make advancements will prove to be a more efficient way to reduce emissions than cutting out meat or replacing it with the ultra-processed engineered goo analogue.
This is not to say that some of the facilities in the meat industry should be exempt from stricter laws, especially on treatment and living conditions, ethically, it’s well known there is much room for improvement in that aspect. But trying to shame the consumption of meat for any other reason is flawed.
Environmentally these attempts would be more productive and better served if they were focussed where it matters on things like the use of fossil fuels and industrial waste/pollution. Nutritionally these attempts would be better served focusing on total improved diet which could “reduce heart and vascular disease by 25 per cent; infant mortality by 50 per cent; obesity by 80 per cent; cancer incidence and death by 20 per cent. In addition, 50 per cent of the cases of diabetes might improve or be avoided.”
American diets have drastically changed, what were once the mainstay of the diet such as complex carbs, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains now play a minority role to fat and sugar consumption which now comprises close to 60% of the total caloric intake, as well home cooked has been largely replaced by the convenience of ready made. There is epidemiological evidence these dietary changes are related to “six of the 10 leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, vascular disease, diabetes, arteriosclerosis and cirrhosis of the liver."
For the record trying to shame a person rarely will be successful, most times it even serves the opposite effect and causes the person to do more of what they were being chastised for in the first place. It’s time to rethink that blame and shame game.
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