A global shift to 100 percent plant-based foods could lead to a net saving of a stunning 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Of those, 100 percent plant-based diets could reduce the carbon footprint of meat and poultry by up to 32 million metric tons, according to a comprehensive analysis of a recent food policy report commissioned by the United Nations .
So what’s going on? Well it’s not just about the beef and pork. Some of those beef-replacements don’t even get their energy from plants. For example, some veggie burgers are actually made out of peanut butter and jelly, according to an article in The Huffington Post. The reason for those peanut butter and jelly burgers? Because, as a new report from Global Food Forward, a group that researches ways to reduce the global carbon footprint,”The meat-rich diets of Westernized consumers … are unsustainable.” In other words, it’s time to move meat and fish from the center of the plate to the side.
The report also revealed that in the U.S., one quarter of American veggie burgers contain soy or corn-based ingredients . Which, to be fair, isn’t all that surprising. Soy is high in soy and is by far the least healthy soy product in the U.S. (which just can’t seem to get enough soybeans):
As if that weren’t enough, in case you needed a sign that we’re in serious trouble, it’s been estimated that soy is linked to prostate cancer. Of particular concern is a high level of soy’s in our bloodstream . That high level is enough to raise estrogenic stress in women, according to a paper published in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. More soy, more estrogen ? Not.
It’s not just soy that’s damaging our health. So if the real benefits of the shift from beef and pork are so great, why are so many Americans choosing plant-based foods?
The answer, quite simply, is that Americans love that stuff. We live in an increasingly mechanized economy, where products are manufactured and sold at massive scale and without human labor. So when a company tells you that it is using non-animal methods to produce what they are selling, the implication is often that it isn’t using “factory farming” (however cruel it could be), but is employing human labor to make these products. In most cases “factory farming” just means, “honest labor-intensive farming.” Of course, it isn’t entirely honest. Factory farming does involve inhumane procedures like the use of forced-labor, harsh working conditions, and extremely low pay. But that doesn’t mean a “factory farm” is a “good” farm. In fact, for most goods that are produced by factory farming practices, consumers will still receive less from those products than if it was a “natural” farm.
That’s because the way that a product is grown, the way that the animal is raised, the way the animals are treated in their final form are all factors to determine what happens to their health and well-being. So when a company tells you that it’s using the “whole ingredient” system, it means that the product the company is marketing comes straight from the farmers that raised the animals.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that it completely ignores the fact that we are already eating factory, non-trans animal, non-organic, non-free range, non-genetically modified crops. That’s part of why the non-plant-based, non-raw food movement has grown so strong. Most people buy non-plant food because it’s cheaper than other options, and they’re very pleased to be able to eat plant foods without the nasty “food” that comes with processed foods that may contain a little pesticide residue. Additionally, we’ve also noticed that when we are really trying to change the way we live, it only takes a few years to get used to not eating meat. The reason we’ve gotten to this point is that, for the past 100 years, many people that were fed processed foods, vegetables, and beverages, did not have to buy processed food just because it supposedly had the lowest carbon footprint, health effects, and sustainability-related benefits. The food we were consuming at that time was usually just fine. It contained just a little bit of organic or “natural” if you will, yet it was as full of preservatives, additives, and other chemicals as any other packaged, unprocessed product that we were exposed to. That was not the case with people that were fed meat and dairy. But now that meat and dairy is slowly being phased out, the transition has been made to a completely plant-based diet.