We’re often asked by health-conscious friends about our thoughts on “plant based meat.” I’m not a scientist, but I can assure you that chemical-filled, ultra-processed foods, manufactured in energy-sucking factories, are not healthy. The sheer number of ingredients – 21 at last count – make is suspect: 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, mixed Tocopherols (antioxidant), soy protein isolate, etc. There’s one ingredient in a Morris Grassfed burger: grassfed beef.
The factories that make and deliver plant-based food pave over soil and require huge amounts of equipment, electricity, water and packaging. Cattle on well-managed rangelands turn the soil, plant deep-rooted native plants that conserve water, and improve habitat for birds, butterflies and endangered species like the California red-legged frog. These are just some of the environmental facts to consider. As far as your health, there’s a growing body of evidence that shows grassfed beef is better for our bodies too. In a 2021 published paper titled “A metabolomics comparison of plant-based meat and grass-fed meat indicates large nutritional differences despite comparable Nutrition Facts panels” scientists found that plant-based meat is just simply not as healthy as the real thing.
“The complexity of the whole food matrix—as indicated here by our metabolomics findings—highlights that attempting to mimic food sources using single constituents such as isolated proteins, vitamins, and minerals is challenging and arguably underestimates the complexity of the food source it is meant to mimic,” the paper states.
Researchers stopped short of calling plant-based meats less healthy than grassfed beef, however they did say the two should not be considered equal.
“Our data indicates that these products should not be viewed as nutritionally interchangeable, but could be viewed as complementary in terms of provided nutrients. It cannot be determined from our data if either source is healthier to consume. Just as a peanut is not really an egg, we conclude that a plant burger is not really a beef burger. Thus, our work adds to the notion that caution is warranted when categorizing foods as equivalent for consumers simply based on their protein content (“protein foods”), which is typical in dietary recommendations.”
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