A Scope of the World of Meat Substitutes

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A Scope of The World of Meat and Meatless Meat

Consumer behavior is vastly changing as the popularity of the meatless diet grows, producing a projection of the plant-based market to reach 9.2 billion by 2023. The notion of eating less meat seems like a simple solution to cutting down emission fuel, eliminating animal cruelty, and improving our health. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

The Meat Industry’s Environmental Impact 

The industrial meat and livestock industry in the United States faces a multitude of challenges that include ethical, social, and environmental concerns. Livestock and agriculture production is often associated as the largest contributor to environmental issues, making up for nearly 25% of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. As the extreme environmental consequences like climate change become more and more transparent, government official's efforts to lower the estimates and find solutions are at a steep incline. 

Despite animal-rights activist's valid concerns about the irreversible damage commercial farming has on the environment, there are some methods of farming livestock that’s a plausible solution. An example of a more sustainable approach includes Holistic Management Farming. This method of cultivation has shown to stimulate plant growth, increase biodiversity, restore soil, and produce food on marginal lands by pasture-raising their livestock. According to a study done by White Oaks Pastures, a significant reduction in carbon emissions fuels are used in the production of pasture-raised beef compared to conventional beef, chicken and even the Beyond Burger. 

Substituting meat with meat alternatives and sourcing meat products from holistically managed farms can make a large difference for the environment in terms of land-use, water-use, and the fight against climate change.

Health Factors of the Meat Industry and the Meatless Market

It’s not new science that there are large health risks that are directly related to consuming meat products processed in factory farms. The meat industry is controlled by transnational companies that generally prioritize factory costs over the quality of products. Consuming red and processed meats has been shown to increase the risk of hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and more famously, is directly linked to cancer. Commercial meats use stabilizers and additives that can also be detrimental to your health, such as sodium nitrate and growth hormones. 

Today, manufacturers using technology to create plant-based products suitable for vegetarians/vegans are rising in popularity. Meatless food products range from wheat-based pork, pea-based shrimp, to lab-engineered “burgers”. Among the most technologically advanced are the two meat alternative companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. The thing that sets these two meatless meat distributors apart is because their products are created from actual animal cells grown in labs; avoiding contribution to emission fuel and animal cruelty.

Although these incredible enhancements in technology for plant-based food production exists, most meatless products have highly processed components that can harm your health. Processed meat alternatives contain a bizarre array of additives to hold their shape and mimic the texture and taste of meat. Seitan, for example, is a meatless protein source that’s originally made from wheat gluten and water but some versions are high in additives, salt, and preservatives. Sourcing your fake meats from manufactures that use clean ingredients, no chemical-based additives and are allergy conscious is the best choice when it comes to picking the right meat alternative. Here are some ingredients to look out for when purchasing meatless meat products:

Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a synthetic preservative that helps maintain color in processed foods and is commonly found in fake meat products. Research shows that consuming TBHQ can cause live enlargement, neurotoxic effects, and has been linked to cancer. on the direct link from TBHQ to cancer influenced the FDA to limit the amount in processed foods.

Magnesium carbonate is an additive used in foods to retain color and prevent caking and is also used in the industrial system in flooring, fireproofing, drying agents and as an antacid. The FDA does not consider magnesium carbonate a toxin, although studies show that consuming too much can create gastric issues, respiratory irritation and in extreme cases neuromuscular impairment

Erythrosine (Red #3) is an artificial food coloring agent that the FDA partially banned in 1990 after studies were released on the cancer association and can damage the endocrine system. This color additive is still used in the food and ingested drugs.  

Propylene glycol is an odorless, colorless liquid used as a dissolvent and moisture-persevere in food, cosmetics, and hygiene products. It is also commonly found in e-cigarettes and anti-freeze. Although its “generally recognized as safe by the USDA, an ingredient found in antifreeze should not be in food. 

Ferric orthophosphate (also referred to as iron phosphate) is a chemical used to fortify food and is used as a pesticide to kill insects. Studies show that the use of this chemical can lead to gastrointestinal issues and irritation of the eyes. 

Push for More Substitution, Rather than Imitation

There are so many options for unprocessed plant-based foods that can be substituted for meat that contain an abundance of benefits. Although they may not mimic the characteristics of meat as far as color and texture go, a little seasoning can go a long way! Beans, peas, and lentils are excellent meat alternatives that provide high protein, fiber, iron, and zinc. Nuts, seeds, and grains also are great sources of protein that contain healthy fats, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins B and E.

 If you’re looking for versatile meat substitutes that taste similar to meat, there are many options as well. Jackfruit is a popular meat substitute because of its close resemblance of pulled pork and is additionally low in calories and high in fiber. Mushrooms are a great form of substitute meat because of their rich and meaty flavor. Mushrooms make a super nutritious addition to any diet and contain impressive antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Tofu and tempeh are wonderful forms of protein that can be flavored similarly to meat and comprises essential amino acids as well as minerals and complex carbohydrates. 

Many meat substitutes that are plant-based are incredibly versatile and affordable, making it an excellent addition to any diet. The less processed your food item is, whether it’s meat or meatless meat, the better it is for your health and the environment. 

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