There has been much in the media lately about plant based “meat”, technically known as meat analogue.  While at first glance, this may seem like a nice alternative for vegetarians, let’s take a closer look at how this product is produced.

Soy protein isolates and wheat gluten are used as the base for meat analogues.  The soybeans are de-hulled, then treated with solvents such as hexane to extract the oil. The oil-free soybean meal is then suspended in water and treated with alkali to dissolve the protein while leaving behind the carbohydrates. The alkaline solution is then treated with acidic substances in order to precipitate the protein, before being washed and dried. In order to improve palatability, lipids in the form of semi- liquid glyceride shorting are added.  Growth factors, or animal sera, are added and a bioreactor is filled with this basal medium. The mixture then grows on a type of scaffold in a climate controlled environment.  Next comes emulsifiers, flavor compounds, leavening agents and colorings.

To grow meat in a lab, you need cell lines, scaffolding, bioreactors and processes; all things that can be patented. A few intellectual property companies could own the rights to producing our food.  Where are the soybeans and wheat used in the product going to come from?  Are they genetically modified?  How much water and chemical fertilizer is going to be needed to grow them?

Real meat comes from animals raised specifically for food.  Take beef, for instance.  Most beef in the U.S. comes from farms of fewer than 99 head, and feedlots only make up 2.9% of all cattle operations. Cattle can take plant products, grown with photosynthesis (free sunlight), comprised of cellulose that people cannot digest, and turn it into a high quality protein that people can digest. Cattle and other livestock create organic manure which is far superior to any chemical fertilizer. This manure helps to rebuild our soils and stimulate microbe production, to create a healthier soil which holds moisture better.

We are also producing more beef today from fewer animals.  In 1970 the U.S. had 140 million head of cattle, today we have 90 million. In both 1970 and 2010, 24 million tons of beef were produced.  The same amount of beef with 36% fewer cattle, due to better management and genetics.

Did you know 91% of cattle operations are family or individually owned and are not “factory farms”? By making locally raised beef a part of your diet you are supporting family owned and operated, regenerative agriculture and you receive a nutrient dense, delicious and healthy product!