Do We Really Need Fake Meat?

Do We Really Need Fake Meat?

I feel left scratching my head when I think about why the world would actually want, or even need, fake or mock meat.  The reasons why one may state it is needed are exactly the reasons why I don’t want it!  Being purveyors of grass fed beef, you may well expect us to be a bit ‘down on’ the fake meats that are increasingly entering the food chain.  I raise this conversation however, not to criticize fake meat, but rather because it gives me an opportunity to explain some of the reasons why grass fed beef grazed on diverse pastures is a superior choice for health (and other reasons) and how very different it is from fake meat.

Our Health

Let’s look at the health differences in fake meat and our pure grass fed beef.

~ Whole Foods

We know that whole foods are a healthy choice (even mainstream health agrees!), while fake meats are a highly processed product.

Fake meat products like a fake beef patty in a hamburger are made predominantly of grain and legume products, but more specifically they are made of products created by the denaturing of these foods. Examples of these are soy protein concentrate, extracted from soybeans and textured wheat protein from wheat.

When a food is denatured, one component of the food is isolated for use. In doing so, the goodness is often stripped out of it – taking away critical vitamins and minerals.  Not only that, but also missing are secondary compounds or phytochemicals naturally found in plants (things like polyphenols, flavanoids, aromatic oils and alkaloids). These are rarely talked about with relation to food – we hear of the primary compounds (protein, carbohydrates, energy, and minerals), but rarely do we hear about these secondary compounds. There are thousands of these different compounds, the combination of a large variety of which contributes to overall wellbeing.  They are like nature’s medicines.  They are the things responsible for why red wine is said to be good for your heart and why certain herbs can aid health.  Secondary plant compounds have many roles in your body including appetizing, digestive or therapeutic purposes.(reference)

When fake meat is produced, the grain or legume is broken down into components – many of the vitamins, minerals and secondary compounds are either destroyed or removed from the final product.  So the energy of the food is consumed, but it is hollow and lacking nourishment.  Devoid of vitamins and minerals, these are added in by food chemists, but it’s not the same as the natural form and it seems the quantities added back in are somewhat unusual; do I really need 2350% of my daily requirements of vitamin B1 in one meal?

Just because it’s made of plants, doesn’t mean it’s good for you – I’m not sure why there seems to be this assumption.

In the case of real meat – pure 100% grass fed beef like ours, the cows graze on diverse pastures, and have access to a variety of the secondary plant compounds, which enables them to use their intuition and choose plants as they graze to ‘self-medicate’ and ensure their own well-being.  This results in meat rich in the benefits of these secondary compounds and nourishment for us as we consume it.

“The availability of phytochemically rich foods is

essential to ensure health through nutrition”

Emiratus professor Fred Provenza.

~ GMO’s

I know that many of you reading this will be concerned about the potential health impacts of genetically modified organisms.  GMO technology is used in the production of fake meat products.  This comes from a website describing a faux beef patty.   It is “made using a yeast engineered with the gene for soy leghemoglobin. First, we grow yeast via fermentation. Then, we isolate the soy leghemoglobin (containing heme) from the yeast, and add it to the Impossible Burger”.  I don’t know about you, but I read ‘highly processed and genetically modified’. So, if you like to avoid genetically modified foods, you may like to check the ingredients in any fake meat products.

There are no GMO’s at all in the raising and feeding of our cows and hence none in our grass fed beef.

~ It’s as Nature Intended

If you’re interested in more health advantages of grass fed beef (unrelated to fake meat), you can learn more about it at the Heath Benefits of Grass Fed vs Grain Fed Beef.

 

Land Health & The Environment

Another reason why it is claimed we need fake meat is because animals are destroying the land.  This can be true when they are not managed well and overgrazing is allowed.  What is exciting however, is that the opposite can be true – when managed well, animals can actually be the tool that can help to heal the land!

~ Don’t Cows Damage the Land?

Plants, they are the millions of little pumps, pumping life into the soil.  The basis of that life is carbon – it is the building block of all things living.  Plants take if from the air and make plant sugars with it via photosynthesis.

Plants use these sugars to grow and yield, and they also push some sugars out the root systems into the soil, where they feed the microbiology of the soil -the fungi, bacteria and more. The soil microbes use these carbon rich sugars to build healthy, living topsoil. A diversity of plants is crucial to support a diversity of soil microbes, necessary for doing the different jobs required for soil health.

Having groundcover on our soils – as living plants or as mulch (trampled to the ground by cows), helps to keep the soils cool and moist, which protects those amazing bugs that are so integral to the building and regeneration of soil. The trampled mulch is also another source of carbon to the soil ‘bugs’ – to complement the liquid carbon sugars that come from the plant roots.

The thing is, to have these actively growing plants, pumping life into the soil, and to have this groundcover of litter, protecting the soil, we need livestock.

Livestock to graze the plants – that they will grow, be grazed, regrow, and pump life into the soil as they do.

Livestock to trample plant material – that it will be laid down and form a mulch on the soil surface.

Livestock – to add manure and urine to the soil.

Have you seen grasses ungrazed or uncut?  Their leaves become dry, old and grey (lignified), at which time there is no growth and no pumping of carbon rich plant sugars feeding into the soil via the roots. The land, rested for too long, will become stagnant.

If we consider the growing of wheat and soybean crops for the production of fake meat, they are almost always grown as monoculture crops, with the paddocks fallowed (ie. nothing growing, where the ground is either ploughed or sprayed with herbicides to control weeds) in the times between the grain crops.  Fallowed land and monoculture crops are two of the worst things for soil health.  Poor soil health leads to wind and water erosion, poor nutrient cycling (and low nutrient contents in the food grown), loss of biodiversity and more.

Claiming we need to not eat meat for the health of the land is actually an uneducated comment.  Conversely too however, if animals are managed poorly, and pastures overgrazed, this can be just as detrimental to soil health. And, just like well managed cattle can help to heal the land, so too can grain and legume cropping when grown with cover crops of multiple species, grown in the time between the grain crops.

A diverse pasture for raising livestock can host quail, lizards, snakes, butterflies, birds of prey, small native marsupials, kangaroos, wallabies and soil that is alive.

A monoculture legume crop lacks life.

Conversely, an overgrazed pasture lacks life, while a diverse, multispecies cover crop (grown in rotation with wheat or legumes) will have lady beetles, moths, dragonflies, spiders and all manner of life present – including diverse soil fungi and microbiology.

~Aren’t Cows a Climate Change Pest?

I have written about ruminant animals and whether they are a methane pest or a climate change solution, here at my other blog (specifically about regenerative agriculture). Briefly though, in biologically healthy soils, there exists methanotrophs – bacteria that feed solely on methane (nothing else). There is also carbon returned to healthy soils via the process explained above (through photosynthesis), with the world’s soils being the largest potential sink for atmospheric carbon. (Read more at the blog if you are interested).

My point is, it is not whether grains or animals are farmed that determines the land health, it is the way in which these are farmed that is the determinant.  Excitingly, more and more farmers are learning about and using more regenerative farming techniques.

I have written more detail about how cows can heal the land here.

As a last thing to consider, much of the world’s grazing lands are simply not suited to growing crops because of the soil types or climate and we don’t just want to simply lock these lands up forever – as I described above, we are left with lignified, grey plants lacking life and then lifeless soils.

 

Taking a Life

And so we come to the point of should we be taking an animal’s life versus eating plants?  What value do we place on the life of another being? Does the emotional value of a cow with a cute face far outweigh that of field mice or tiny and largely unseen native mammals that wouldn’t exist in the monoculture of a grain crop? If so, is there a threshold – Just how many little creatures equal one cow? If we choose to not eat meat because of these difficult ethical reasons, then what of the other small marsupials, lizards, quails etc, whose lives don’t exist because of the monoculture grain and legume crops grown for fake meat production?

It’s just not such a black and white argument that it is made out to be of ‘taking a life versus not taking a life’.  Again, hearing this tells me that a person is not fully versed on the topic they are commenting on. Here’s a whole extra bit of reading on that if you like!

 

Energy

I will mention energy here as a last thought (and I don’t mean calorific energy, but rather lifeforce energy). I genuinely believe that the area of energy is something that will become more greatly explored, better understood and there will be a greater realisation of its importance with regards to our thoughts, our water, our foods and more.  The energy contained in a whole food – in the state it was grown or raised must surely carry a greater energy than a product that has been highly processed.  That, I believe, will go on to better lifeforce energy for our bodies.

 

So whether it’s your own health, the health of the farming landscapes of the world or taking the life of an animal that you’re concerned about, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. Fake meat? I reckon we’d all be better off without it, but isn’t it great that we live in a society that we can have such choice, as long as it is a consciously made one!

Kirrily :)

See our hamper choices here  if you’d like to enjoy some of our

chemical free, 100% grass fed beef (that is real!), fed on diverse pastures.