Plant Based Meats 1
Stories from the Field

What Is with the Plant-Based “Meat”?

Consumers are looking for healthier, more sustainable food options and rumors have been said for years, that eating tons of red meat is not a good idea. Even celebrities are trying to get people to stop eating meat one day at a time.

Plant Based Meats 1In 2019, Beyond Meat was released to the public as healthier options. Since then, restaurants and other fast-food chains have started implementing plant-based options into their menu. For example, the Impossible Whopper at Burger King and Denny’s now carrying the Beyond Burger at most locations. Besides trying to mimic the beef flavor, other companies have come out with breakfast sausage and other meat products, even though we already have the vegetarian options. 

Plant Based Meats 2What is the only ingredient in a beef burger? It’s just beef. That’s it. When talking about the plant-based product they include more than just plants, try at least 17 ingredients. The following ingredients come from the Beyond Meat’s website: peas, mung bean, fava bean, brown rice, cocoa butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, calcium, iron, salt, potassium chloride, beet juice extract, apple extract, natural flavors, potato starch, and methylcellulose. I don’t know about you, but it would take a lot of sauce and convincing to get all of those ingredients to taste like a nice grilled burger. U.S. Senator Deb Fisher is working to get the Real MEAT Act in place to ensure that the plant-based products cannot be labeled as “meat” because it does not contain any meat from animals.

As for consumers believing Beyond Meat products are healthier, it seems everyone has their own opinions. Food Network claims that with the excessive amount of processing, the nutritional value is about the same as a normal burger. Business Insider asked four nutritionists and each one had different opinions, but the overall agreement came to say that plant-based meat is a healthy protein source. CNBC says that meatless burgers are good in theory but the plant-based option is not exactly healthier than red meat and if you are looking for healthier options for food to try wholesome foods.

Plant Based Meats 3What the plant-based protein product could do for farmers is change our crops to fit the need of the ingredients used in the plant-based burger, just like we grow corn to feed the animals. Over time, as the plant-based options become more popular, we could see a decline in the need for beef and pork in the future. I think the idea of plant-based products or anything other than real meat options are crazy and I am a little nervous about what the future of agriculture looks like if this takes off. However, I am confident in our ability to conquer it. Many companies are now saying they are lowering the price of the plant-based products because the demand is not as high as they thought so who really knows what is going to happen.

Sofia Sedlacek is working towards her degree in elementary education with a minor in agriculture communications. She dreams of teaching agriculture to elementary students. When she has time off from school, she helps out at family farms. Sofia is also a member of the professional agriculture sorority on campus.

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