In this file:
· Why food industry must safeguard positive health message of plant-based protein
… Achieving the now often coined environmental and health "win-win" of dramatically reducing livestock farming for the sake of the planet and meat consumption for the sake of our health depends on the food industry successfully converting plant-based protein from niche market to mainstream food category… this evolution is underway and market research identifies health factors as an important driver of consumer uptake…
· ‘Plant’-based protein problem
… The two major plant-based alternatives both have more than 15 ingredients. One ingredient is methylcellulose, a filler with no nutritional benefit. The bulking agent is often used in laxatives and, according to studies using animals, may promote colorectal cancer… Some Americans are either misinformed or have been deceived into thinking these fake burgers are healthy vegetable patties masquerading as real meat. According to a recent Mintel study, 76 percent of Americans think plant-based foods are healthy while 46 percent think these proteins are healthier than traditional animal products…
· Just How Good Is the Impossible Burger for You or the Planet?
Meat consumption is a huge driver of global warming, from deforestation to cow farts. Meatless meat isn’t a miracle, though.
· Critics Challenge the Health Benefits of Alternative Meats
… Aren’t the products that look and taste like actual meat just the latest suspect offerings from the processed-food complex?
Why food industry must safeguard positive health message of plant-based protein
By Ben Cooper, Just-Food
18 September 2019
As the plant-based meat and dairy markets explode, Ben Cooper sets out why food companies must ensure products deliver on nutritional value.
Replacing meat with plant-based protein is incontestably beneficial to human health but that is not to say every plant-based alternative can be considered "healthy".
In an ideal world, this would be so but, if the world were perfect everybody would already have perfect diets which, as food industry executives are all too often reminded, they do not.
Achieving the now often coined environmental and health "win-win" of dramatically reducing livestock farming for the sake of the planet and meat consumption for the sake of our health depends on the food industry successfully converting plant-based protein from niche market to mainstream food category.
Health considerations drive growth
The recent strong growth in plant-based protein alternatives to meat and dairy shows this evolution is underway and market research identifies health factors as an important driver of consumer uptake.
"When it comes to plant-based foods, consumers are primarily motivated by flavour and taste and health and wellness," says Dr Sarah Marion, director of syndicated research at US research firm Hartman Group. "Animal welfare and sustainability play an important role, but are secondary factors for most current consumers of meat and dairy alternatives."
In a Hartman Group survey, 33% of consumers cited liking the taste as the most important motivation for buying plant-based meat alternatives. Seeking more variety in the diet was cited by 25% of respondents while health and wellness attributes, such as low fat or salt, or avoiding ingredients found in meat products they perceive as unhealthy, such as antibiotics and hormones, were the most important factor for 24% of the poll. Animal welfare and environmental motivations were a lower priority registering 18% and 16% respectively.
The precise balance between these factors may vary between markets and by demographic but health and wellness will be a consistently significant driver. Moreover, Dr Marion adds while consumer adoption of plant-based products typically rests on health considerations and liking the taste, health is particularly important in triggering initial trial.
By extension, health is a particularly strong motivation for the important "flexitarian" market. Growing numbers of consumers looking only to cut down on meat have been a major factor in the growth of the plant-based protein sector.
Low-meat consumers, including flexitarians, now represent 22% of the global population according to the GlobalData 2018 Q4 global consumer survey. Veganism has been growing too but vegetarianism and veganism combined only represent 4% of the population in Europe versus 19% for those following a low-meat diet, and 7% versus 16% in North America.
The generally strong awareness of the health benefits of plant-based protein represents a powerful advantage for the sector. However, if the claims are debatable the consumer is not only short-changed nutritionally but, as has been seen before when ethical or health claims are revealed as exaggerated or false, resulting bad publicity risks tarnishing an entire category.
Primary areas of concern
Concern and debate regarding the nutritional value of plant-based protein products has centred primarily on levels of salt and fat. Research into salt levels in the UK and most recently in Australia has revealed high levels of sodium in many plant-based meat alternatives, while the new generation of meat analogues, led by the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, has been criticised for high levels of salt and fat. Meanwhile, there are concerns over the nutritional value of some plant-based dairy alternatives, particularly with regard to child nutrition.
Impossible Foods' use of soy leghemoglobin to mimic crucial meat characteristics has also been a subject of intense scrutiny and controversy even though it has been certified as "generally recognised as safe" (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The creation and development of new novel ingredients of this kind is likely to lead to further health debates as the plant-based protein sector grows and innovation continues.
As processed food products, particularly as they aim to adapt how a food group is consumed and what it can provide to consumers, plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy may be exposed to the criticism of being over-processed. Meanwhile, the use of multiple ingredients to make the necessary adaptations possible may also lead to "clean label" issues. These issues can clearly be seen in the debate surrounding the Impossible Burger and are likely to remain concerns plant-based protein manufacturers will have to respond to.
Regarding salt levels, a report published earlier this month in Australia by the George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation, revealed high levels of salt in plant-based meat substitutes, mirroring similar findings in a report from pressure group Action on Salt in the UK a year ago. Analysing salt levels in some 560 meat alternatives between 2010 and 2019, the Australian study found meat-free bacon had the highest average salt content at 2g per 100g, more than a third of the recommended daily intake, followed by meat-free sausages with 1.3g per 100g.
The organisations behind the report are lobbying government to set sodium reduction targets for meat alternatives but are critical of the food sector for failing to make progress. There has been a 153% increase in the number of meat-free alternative products from 2010 to 2019, the report states, and no reduction in average sodium content over that time.
While the report shows average sodium levels for meat-free sausages, burgers and bacon are all lower than their meat equivalents, Clare Farrand, senior public health nutritionist at the George Institute and the report's lead author, says the variation in salt content within the plant-based category is more significant. "What is most important is that some manufacturers are producing these products with much less salt so there's no need for there to be that much salt in the product in the first place. If some manufacturers, can do it, others can do the same."
Nevertheless, Farrand welcomes the new product activity in the plant-based protein area and acknowledges its contribution in shifting diets away from meat, a view shared by Mhairi Brown, nutrition policy coordinator at Action on Salt. "It is great that the market is expanding but in general what we're seeing is that salt levels aren't low enough to class them as healthy products," Brown says.
Plant-based foods as "gateway foods" ...
A "health halo" ...
The future - life in the mainstream ...
‘Plant’-based protein problem
By Will Coggin, Guest Columnist, Sampson Independent Op-Ed, Opinion
September 19, 2019
Coggin is the managing director at the Center for Consumer Freedom
The latest food fad is coming to America’s hospitals and schools. Last month, Aramark and Sodexo, the two largest providers of food in the nation, signed deals with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, two of the fastest growing plant-based protein companies. The deals would seem to make it official that these new meat substitutes are a healthier alternative to the real thing.
Take a deeper look and you see these institutions are selling their guests short.
Remember SnackWell’s? The 90’s cookie was lauded for being a healthy cookie when nutritionists were warning people away from consuming fat. But it wasn’t so. The cookie traded its fat for an increase in carbs—sugar—to make the cookies palatable. And as nutrition research has developed, nutritionists have zeroed in on sugar as something we should watch.
Plant-based meat substitutes are the SnackWell’s of the modern era, promising consumers a health halo that doesn’t square with reality.
Impossible Food’s burger contains 370 mg of sodium and 240 calories, while Beyond Meat’s burger contains 390 mg of sodium and 250 calories. Compared to a 90 percent lean beef burger of the same size, the plant-based burgers have average almost 25 percent more calories. Their increase in sodium is more than 400 percent.
The differences go deeper. These new products fall into what is known as “ultra-processed” foods. According to the NOVA food classification system, ultra-processed foods are “formulations of ingredients, mostly of exclusive industrial use, typically created by series of industrial techniques and processes.”
The two major plant-based alternatives both have more than 15 ingredients. One ingredient is methylcellulose, a filler with no nutritional benefit. The bulking agent is often used in laxatives and, according to studies using animals, may promote colorectal cancer.
Other plant-based meat products on the market have even more ingredients—some more than 40! The National Institute of Health has cautioned that Ultra Processed foods are linked to obesity. A real beef patty has one ingredient: Beef.
Some Americans are either misinformed or have been deceived into thinking these fake burgers are healthy vegetable patties masquerading as real meat. According to a recent Mintel study, 76 percent of Americans think plant-based foods are healthy while 46 percent think these proteins are healthier than traditional animal products.
And the plant-based deception doesn’t stop at personal health. Despite what you’ve heard, plant-based protein won’t save the planet either.
Advocates of swapping authentic meat for the fake analogue argue that raising livestock emits large amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG). Yet emissions from livestock agriculture is nominal. The EPA calculates that less than 3 percent of GHG emissions in America comes from farm animals. GHG emissions would shrink only 2.6 percent if all Americans went cold turkey and gave up all animal protein—not just meat but also, milk, cheese, and even butter.
Livestock agriculture is one of the best technologically adapted sectors when it comes to climate change...
Just How Good Is the Impossible Burger for You or the Planet?
Meat consumption is a huge driver of global warming, from deforestation to cow farts. Meatless meat isn’t a miracle, though.
Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast
This month I stepped inside a Burger King for the first time in three years.
I wanted to try out the new, plant-based “Impossible Whopper,” and learn from an expert—a vegan, no less—about its supposed potential to save the planet, your health, and the lives of lots of cows.
Short answers: truth, fiction, and truth.
“The first time I had a hamburger it was from Burger King,” said Sarah Chandler, a longtime friend, activist, and food educator, as we devoured our Whoppers in downtown Brooklyn. “And it was, for sure, my favorite hamburger.”
But that was a long time ago. These days, Chandler, who recently completed a stint working at Farm Forward (tagline: “Until no animals suffer on factory farms”), is a passionate activist for reducing meat consumption and eating healthier.
“I pre-gamed by getting a $4 container of broccoli rabe in Koreatown this morning,” she warned me.
Here are three things I learned.
First, the Impossible Whopper is delicious. “This tastes so good, I think there’s been a mistake,” I told Sarah as we dug in.
Based on a Frankenstein-like fusion of soy protein and yeast (the Beyond Burger is based on pea protein), the Impossible Whopper was indistinguishable from a regular hamburger. Beyond and Impossible use clever tricks to make the burgers “bleed” like regular meat. Probably the thin patty helped, plus all the trimmings and condiments being exactly the same as regular Burger King. I was fooled.
Second, in terms of global warming, the plant-substitute meats really could make a difference. Almost 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture, and large-scale cattle production is among the most intensive. It’s a triple hit, often involving deforestation in developing countries (such as Brazil) and pesticide use, intensive water use, and transportation in industrialized ones. It’s been estimated that a pound of beef produces the amount of carbon dioxide equal to 31 miles of driving a car.
And then there are the farts.
Cows’ digestive systems excrete methane (mostly through belching, actually), and methane is 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. While most methane pollution actually comes from oil and gas, cattle farming is still a major contributor: a single cow releases 30-50 gallons of methane every day.
The key point is that the Impossible Burger, and its chief competitor, Beyond Meat, are meant for everybody, not just environmentalists who want to save the world.
That’s a crucial distinction. Even if every virtuous environmentalist stopped eating meat, that wouldn’t make a dent in global warming. There just aren’t enough do-gooders out there. (It’s been estimated that 16 percent of U.S. consumers avoid animal products for environmental reasons.)
Fast food, though, is a powerful aggregator.
On any given day, more than one in three Americans eats fast food. That’s 84.8 million adults. Even if only half of them are eating burgers, that’s nearly 10 million pounds of beef every single day.
What’s more, most of that is industrially farmed. While small-scale cattle farming can actually be carbon negative (cows eat grass that sucks carbon dioxide out of the air), large-scale farming is fossil-fuel intensive, both in farming methods and transportation.
In sum, Beyond’s own study found that a Beyond Burger generates 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than a regular one, and Impossible’s found an 89 percent reduction. Independent assessments are more conservative, but still estimate that a plant-based burger has about half the carbon footprint of a regular burger.
And with the market for meat substitutes expected to hit $2.5 billion by 2023, according to Euromonitor estimates, that’s a lot of cows, and cow emissions, saved.
So, will it work?
That’s the third thing I learned, and the news isn’t great.
While the Impossible Whopper passed our taste test with flying colors, it fails on cost and health...
Critics Challenge the Health Benefits of Alternative Meats
· Competing PR blitzes over nutrition and processing claims
· Some shun meat mimickers because they’re not ‘whole’ foods
By Leslie Patton and Lydia Mulvany, Bloomberg
September 18, 2019
First, there were plants. Then came plant-based products, like tempeh, made from fermented soybeans, and veggie burgers, mash-ups of vegetables and legumes.
Those days seem so innocent and uncomplicated. Now the world is grappling with the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger craze, which has made investors giddy and spurred the health police to ask uncomfortable questions. Aren’t the products that look and taste like actual meat just the latest suspect offerings from the processed-food complex?
The answer is, basically, it depends. The debate rages, as do the competing public relations blitzes. Consumers have to figure it out. The companies making the alternatives should take note.
The stakes are high for Beyond Meat Inc., a Wall Street darling whose stock trades more than six times its early May debut price. The company’s main product, like the one from Impossible Foods Inc., is a burger that is remarkably similar to the kind made from ground beef and even turns brown as it cooks.
Some fans see the patties as ethical choices; cows produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and grass-fed cattle ranching is cited as a main cause for increasing destruction of the Amazon in Brazil.
But while there’s scientific consensus that human health and the planet’s would benefit from a shift to more plant-based foods, there’s no agreement about how the newest generation of plant-based meat mimickers fit in...
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