The Troublesome Truth Behind the Fake Meat Industry

The Troublesome Truth Behind the Fake Meat Industry

Updated: Mar 26, 2024Veronika Larisova

Check out Jo Rogan's chat about fake meat with Chris Kresser, renowned expert, leading clinician, and top educator in the fields of Functional Medicine and ancestral health.

At Chief, we've been looking at fake meat for some time as we're always looking at new innovations that might make their way into our product range. 

The issue, as Chris points out, is fake meat is typically made from highly processed and inflammatory vegetable oils. Impossible Burger's main ingredients are genetically modified soy, coconut oil (nothing wrong with coconut oil) and sunflower oil. Beyond Meat is made from pea protein isolate and canola oil.

Let's just put the health side of things to bed once and for all around these types of products. It's like margarine versus butter. You should eat butter in moderation because it's high in saturated fat, but that doesn't mean you should switch it for something even worse like vegetable oils.

It's the same with meat. Eat it in moderation, choose the good stuff (grass-fed and grass finished, ideally organic) but do NOT switch it for highly processed vegetable oils if you're looking for the healthy option. 

If you're thinking about fake meat from an environmental perspective, that's what Chris addresses in this video because one of the big sells about fake meat is it's better for the environment.

Compared to industrially farmed feed lots, yes. Compared to regeneratively farmed beef that takes carbon out of the atmosphere? Absolutely not.

To influence action on real solutions for climate change we, as consumers, need to see past the hype of billion dollar companies with an agenda (i.e. selling stuff).

As Dana Perls from Friends of the Earth (mentioned in the video) says, instead of investing in risky new food technologies that are potential problems masquerading as solutions, we should be investing in proven beneficial regenerative agriculture and transparent organic food. 


For reference, here are some key takeaways

Impossible Burger has publicly criticised holistic land management or regenerative agriculture in saying, "Ah, it's not really that different. And, in fact, sometimes the emissions can be even more than feedlot beef."

But there was a third party lifecycle analysis, full lifecycle (by Quantis). They looked at the whole process at White Oak Pastures, a beef operation following regenerative practices.

And they found that their beef operation was a net carbon sink. It actually sequestered carbon from the atmosphere. It was not emitting carbon. It was not carbon neutral. It was taking carbon out.

Regenerative livestock or holistically managed beef can actually restore grasslands. It can restore the soil and improve the soil. So you're not only producing this amazing nutrient dense bioavailable food source, you're actually improving the soil and helping to reverse this really dramatic threatening problem that we're facing of soil erosion.

The analysis found that fake meat was less of a greenhouse gas emitter than feedlot beef, but it was still actually an emitter, whereas the holistically managed beef was taking carbon out of the atmosphere.


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