Two cows are sitting at the fence, watching a new, shiny milk truck go driving by. It says on the side, “Ultra-homogenized, micro-filtered and pasteurized, 98% reduced fat and vitamin D fortified milk.” One cow turns its head toward the other and sighs, “Kind of makes you feel kind of inadequate, doesn’t it?”
Beef is under fire (and I don’t mean the barbecue). For nutritionists, there is the public health concern – high fat cholesterol. And for environmentalists, there is the climate change worry – carbon dioxide omissions. But what if you can have your meat and eat it, too? That is what is behind the plant-based meat movement. The two leaders are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods and their patties are designed to: look like meat, cook like meat, taste like meat, sell like meat, even ooze like meat – all without one ounce of meat in them. And their hamburgers are flying off the grill. Beyond Meat is now sold in over 35,000 grocery stores and Impossible Foods is currently served in more than 10,000 restaurants. And fast-food chains are racing to add these products to their menu selection as fast as they can. Both companies are backed by hi-tech billionaires (such as Bill Gates) and have raised billions of dollars on Wall Street in stock market sold shares. And ironically, the major meat processing companies are the ones that actually make up their products and own the majority of their stock. To them, a burger sale is a burger sale, whether it is real meat or fake meat. But not everyone is taking the big bite. There are dieticians who have real concerns. Here’s why:
Positive – Yes, plant-based meat does have some positive nutritional profiles compared to animal-based meat. These include: less fat, less calories, no cholesterol and more fibre.
Negative – But plant-based meat is highly processed. There are over twenty separate ingredients in each burger. Here is a list of some: pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, modified soy leghemoglobin, apple extract, beet juice extract, soy protein concentrate, refined coconut oil, sunflower oil, potato protein, methyl-cellulose binding agents, bamboo cellulose, maltodextrin, yeast extract, vegetable glycerin, citrus extract, gum arabic, acetic acid, sucinnic acid, anatto food colouring, and the ever present and always anonymous, “natural food flavours”. As well, whenever you lower the fat, you have to raise the salt. And processed food is processed food, whatever you put into it. As studies have conclusively shown, – in societies where people eat many whole foods and little processed foods, they live far healthier and much longer. And that includes one-ingredient animal food, like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, goat, pork etc.
Perhaps most telling, the chief executive officer of Amazon’s nation-wide Whole Foods (catering to the elite of healthy eaters) will not allow the product in their grocery stores. As the CEO put it, “ Just the fact you don’t find plant-based meats here, is as big a criticism of them as I can possibly make in public.”
The bottom line? Don’t believe all the hype. There are those who have a real beef with plant-based meat.
Let me ask you a question – Are you one of those who opt for low-fat dressing on your salad, pour non-fat milk over your cereal, or eat lean cuts of red meat or skinless poultry? Or today, perhaps a plant-based meat? Many choose such options to avoid gaining weight and preventing heart disease; both good.
But now, not only is new research seriously challenging the health benefits of low-fat diets, it is especially doing so when it comes to the possible connection between no-fat and no-memory, i.e, Alzheimer’s Disease. Let me explain.
Over 6,000,000 North Americans suffer with Alzheimer’s. In 1980, Alzheimer’s affected less than 1 in 100,000 people, but by 2010, that rate had shot up to 25 per 100,000. And the number of new cases is expected to double over the next twenty-five years. But even though the disease was first identified by the German psychiatrist, Dr. Alios Alzheimer, in 1906, it remained a rare condition until the 1980s when it began to skyrocket. Prior to this time, there is almost no mention of the disease in medical journals. Dr. Murray Waldman, Alzheimer researcher, states,
I looked everywhere, including the Library of Congress and the British Museum Library, but I couldn’t find anything indicating there was very much Alzheimer’s until this generation. Yes, people do lose some memory as they age, but Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the aging process. It is a disease. The brains of Alzheimer’s patients are distinctly different from the brains of others. And past physicians would have noticed this.
So what has happened over the last few decades that may have caused such a dramatic rise in Alzheimer’s? Diet readily comes to mind. What we eat has changed radically over the past forty years as we’ve shifted from eating foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol to those low in both. As a result, we’ve become a fat deficient society. And is it just coincidence that as we’ve lowered our fat intake, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in Alzheimer’s? You see, fat is an essential element of the human brain. As a matter of fact, 60% of our brain is made up of fat and 25% of the body’s cholesterol resides inside our skulls. The latter, cholesterol, is especially essential for the transmission of nerve impulses that both store and retrieve the brain’s memory data. For example, researchers at John Hopkins University monitored 400 seniors for 18 years and every three years they measured memory capability and cholesterol levels – and those with the highest cholesterol had the best recall.
The bottom line? I’m not a medical doctor and I’m certainly not giving anyone medical advice. But God did say to Israel in Nehemiah 8:10,
Then said he, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
And so to me, eating fat seems like a no-brainer.