Vegetable meat


By John DiTraglia



So the other day I waited until I was very hungry and went to Burger King to try the Impossible Whopper made out of soy and not meat. It was $1.70 more expensive than a regular meat Whopper which I don’t understand because plants use much less natural resources than meat to produce. That mark up probably comes from the novelty or specialty or more healthy factor or new patent protection and they hope that the market will bear it. The cashier said that lots of people were ordering the Impossible Whopper and she liked it herself. I got mine without ketchup, mayonnaise or pickles because that would be too complicated and I don’t like that stuff on my regular hamburgers anyway. I did get tomato, lettuce and onion. It had a slightly smokey flavor and it had the same chew as a regular burger and though I am not a connoisseur of hamburgers, I think it hit the same spot. The Impossible Whopper has similar calories and protein and salt but it is lower in total and saturated fat.

The issue of plant-based meat alternatives has prompted a lot of commentary recently. It might seem shady to be co-opting the fact that the red-blooded Americans are not going to stop eating meat. In fact as poor countries get less poor, meat eating will happen even more worldwide. So why not make vegetable meat to try and lure them?

It can’t be said that any plant-based meat alternative has less of that new bugaboo called “highly processed,” than a ground beef hamburger but I’ve never understood what highly processed really means.

Add to that the new sensationalized report that red meat doesn’t really cause significantly more cancer than has previously been preached,(2) (though it still does probably cause more obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease), and the fact that studying the health effects of vegetable meat simulators is probably never going to be possible and we are probably not going to be able to improve the quality of dietary research or recommendations any time soon as lamented by Dr. David Ludwig. (3) Usually hamburgers are accompanied by fries and a coke, so….

The biggest argument for eating less red meat is that beef has five times the negative impact on climate change as pork or chicken. All meat in turn is more impactful on our planet than growing and eating plants instead. In the final analysis, killing the earth may wind up making way more difference to our health and longevity than tweaks to our diets ever will.

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By John DiTraglia

1. Aminian A et al. Association of metabolic surgery with major adverse cardiovascular outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity. JAMA. 2019;322:1271-82.

2. Livingston EH. The role of bariatric surgery in managing the macrovascular complications of obesity-related type 2 diabetes. JAMA. 2019;322:1259-60.

1. Aminian A et al. Association of metabolic surgery with major adverse cardiovascular outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity. JAMA. 2019;322:1271-82.

2. Livingston EH. The role of bariatric surgery in managing the macrovascular complications of obesity-related type 2 diabetes. JAMA. 2019;322:1259-60.