Dan Murphy: Alt-Meat vs. Dog Food

Raised and Rooted Nuggets made with plants. ( FJ )

If you were to read the ingredient labels, you’d be surprised to see the similarities between the new wave of shamburgers and high-end dog food. Which one’s more nutritious? Tough to say.

We’ve previously visited the subject of alt-meat, plant-based shamburgers, with respect to the reality that these formulated products are being advertised and positioned as “better for you.”

Why? Because they’re manufactured from plants, of course! As if ingredients sourced from vegetative sources are somehow sacrosanct.

Anyone heard of high-fructose corn syrup? That’s an ingredient derived from a natural plant source and used in a wide variety of foods. But to listen to the same veganistas who spend their leisure time demonizing animal foods, HFC is the embodiment of Satan himself, only disguised as a clear, refined liquid.

I get it that vegetarians worship plants and loathe animals — at least as sources of sustenance — but what I find more troubling is the attempt to suggest that alt-meat products are perfectly suited for all the food purists determined to eat a clean, healthy, “natural” diet.

Natural? I beg to differ, and here’s an interesting exercise that demonstrates the point.

This was posted to Twitter, courtesy of @GHGGuru, and it consists of a quiz: A set of ingredients appearing on alt-meat products, and one appearing on a bag of dog food.

Here are the three ingredient statements. Which one’s the dog food?

A). Water, pea protein isolate, canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavors, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract. Salt, potassium chloride, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sunflower lecithin, pomegranate fruit powder, beet juice extract.

B). Peas, sweet potato, pea protein, pea starch, lentils, flaxseed meal, sunflower oil, calcium carbonate, vegetable flavoring, salt, folic acid, minerals and vitamins.

C). Water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, natural flavors, potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, cultured dextrose, modified food starch, soy leghemoglobin, salt, soy protein isolate, and vitamins.

You’ve probably figured this out by now, so we won’t extend the suspense. The answers are:

A) = Beyond Beef. B) = Walk About Super Premium Dog Food. C) = Impossible Burger.

Three strikes and they’re out

Of course, the immediate takeaway from this little exercise is that dog food is formulated to be much more nutritious than the processed products with which so many shoppers fill their carts each week at the local supermarket — if you ignore the fact that dogs are omnivores that “naturally” subsist on a diet heavy on organ and muscle meats.

Not many dogs living in the wild, or ones who’ve gone feral, are living on sweet potatoes and pea protein. Obviously, Walk About Super Premium is formulated to appeal to the dog’s healthier-than-thou owner, not the animal expected to consume said food.

More to the point: While online dietary authorities (like @GHGGuru), progressive nutritionists and a host of self-appointed “experts” on losing weight and experiencing a feeling of unlimited energy and vitality all focus on natural, unprocessed foods as the key to health and well-being, none of them seem bothered in the least about those lengthy ingredient labels on alt-meat products.

In every other context, people are urged to stop buying and consuming anything that has an ingredient label longer than three items, or one that lists anything difficult to pronounce or that appears to be an additive that’s unfamiliar.

For both Beyond Beef and Impossible Burger both, it’s three strikes and they’re out on all of those criteria.

That’s not to say that either product is unhealthy or non-nutritious; rather, it’s a reality check that the alt-meat category features processed factory foods, never before consumed by humans and as production volumes are ramped up, manufactured and marketed solely by Corporate America.

That’s another three strikes, and for the apologists claiming that plant-based formulations are so vastly superior to animal foods, they’re out.

The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, an award-winning journalist and commentator.

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