Although I am not currently a vegetarian, I think it’s important to eat meatless meals as part of your regular diet. By meatless I mean eating real food! There is a huge difference in nutrient quality between making a delicious pumpkin lentil soup or a veggie stir fry with chick peas and brown rice and slopping a processed frozen veggie burger on a white bun and smothering it in ketchup.
Why are meatless alternatives generally a bad idea?
- Soy, which is a main ingredient in many of these fake meat products, is full of estrogen hormones (um no thanks!) and in many parts of the world they are clearing rainforest areas to plant soy crops because it is quick cash. Are you really willing to cut down the Amazon for a piece of rubbery ToFurkey?
- It’s food in disguise. The whole purpose of fake meat is to make something that isn’t meat taste like meat. Chemical additives, sodium, artificial flavours, and binders (ingredients that make mashed up food stuff stick together) are not ingredients that nature intended for us to eat. Yuck.
- It’s not good for the planet. Aside from wrecking the rainforest, fake meat products take lots of energy to manufacture, not to mention package and label, and then ship to a supermarket near you. Generally, eating a plant-based diet consisting of natural foods (preferably local ones) uses less energy and land mass to produce compared to a meat-based diet. If being eco-friendly is one of your reasons for being a vegetarian, then fake meat is certainly not a good choice!
- It’s not good for the animals. And by animals, I mean humans (and all of the other creatures too). If you are an animal-loving PETA vegetarian (like the naked chicks running by Williams last Saturday) maybe you should start with loving yourself (you are an animal after all) and eat real food. Another thing – the animals won’t have anywhere to live if all of the trees are cut down to grow soy beans for your cardboard-flavoured veggie burgers. Just saying.
- Fake meat is expensive. For $5 you can buy a package of fake bacon or some soy cheese. Alternatively, for under $10 you can buy a can of chickpeas for $0.99, a whole bag of rice for $1.99, and some veggies, providing you with several meals full of vitamins, minerals, and other life-promoting nutrients at a fraction of the cost. Less money on food = more money for everything else.
Meatless meals can be healthy, eco-friendly, and delicious alternative to eating meat, whether you are a vegetarian or a “meat and potatoes” person. However, you really should think twice before you grab that bag of frozen vegan chicken strips.