top of page
  • Dr. David Alfaro

But it's plant based!!!!!

I have a bunch of tree hugging vegan and vegetarian friends that are always posting pictures of cute cows and pigs suffering horrible deaths, and referring to vegetarian alternatives to animal proteins, trying to make us meat eaters feel guilty for being human. Well, it doesn't phase me. I eat cute animals; the younger and happier, the better.

"But haven't you watched Cowspiracy? There are so many better options for protein!"

Are there?

Let us talk veggie protein again.......

If you have watched Cowspiracy, or have followed any sort of veggie nutrition news, you will have heard of this upstart company that has created the saviour to the world's protein problem with their innovative "100% plant protein" burgers and faux meat products that are engineered to taste and feel like real meat.

They are the self proclaimed future of protein! They have created so much noise that they have attracted some big name investors and athlete reps......

But have you looked at what is in there?????

If it is plant based, it is good for you, right?

Check out their gorgeous website. 100% plant protein. Oooh that's good. Sexy ripped athletes. Hmmm I want to be skinny. Gorgeous looking faux meat patties. OMG looks like a real burger! So convincing. And it is plant based??? This must be good for you!

All marketing. Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!

They are totally riding the 100% plant based wave. I have news for all y'all hippies who think that "plant based" is synonymous with "natural": YOU ARE BEING FOOLED.

Humans have been synthesizing things from plants for centuries. We have plant based plastics and rubbers. We have plant based solvents and detergents. We have plant based toxins. We have plant based "chemicals"....... everything we eat is a chemical.

This burger is a synthetic product, no matter if you call it plant based. The ingredients are chemically treated in order for them to exist the way they do.

Are synthetic things bad for you? Well, not necessarily, but wouldn't you rather eat something that exists naturally? I am very content knowing that my delicious ribeye steak is 100% beef, from a happy cute cow that spent its years hormone and antibiotic free, roaming an unpolluted range, eating pesticide free grasses and plants, and then getting fatted up on healthy grains just before being delicately butchered and aged to perfection.

Yum. 100% Natural.

So what is in that synthetic burger anyways?

The first ingredient is water. That's fine. Water is good for you!

The second is pea protein isolate. What in the world does that mean?

Like any vegetable, peas have a very low concentration of protein. Check out the nutritional data here: PEAS

Peas are only about 5.5% protein by weight. But somehow we are going to use them for protein? In order to make an "isolate", the rest of the 94.5% needs to be removed. That entails roasting the peas, grinding them, and then washing them with a series of acids, bases and other solvents. The goal is to end up with a concentrate of amino acids, but realistically we end up with the proteins, and some other stuff. In that original 94.5% that is not protein, lie substances such as sugars and flavour compounds that end up getting concentrated too. Some of these chemicals can cause flatulence, allergy and gastric upset, or can affect the flavour, colour, or texture of the final product. To get the pea protein isolate just right is therefore a chemistry challenge (and usually a patented process).

Pretty natural, right?

But in the end, pea protein isolate appears to be relatively well tolerated by the human digestive system, to the point that it is even approved for baby formula. Is it as natural as my cute cow? NO.

The third ingredient is a blend of fats. In fact, over half of the calories in this product come from fat. That is not very balanced. Yes, the fats are naturally sourced, and are from non-animal sources, but canola oil and palm oil are not without their own controversies. If I ate a burger that had 50% of its calories from fat, it would be very, very delicious. Probably moreso than this veggie patty (sadly they are not yet available in Canada).

I'll just stop at the fourth ingredient: methylcellulose.

Hey you know what this stuff is? Where it comes from? How it is made?

Tree pulp. You know........ what we make toilet paper with?

Methylcellulose, and other cellulose derivatives, are chemically created from the pulp of trees in a process that involves washing the mash with caustic bases and other solvents in order to draw out the natural fibre.

The end result is a product that is pretty neat. It is a substance that gels when it is heated and liquefies when it cools, and it is colourless, flavourless and is virtually undigestible, making it a great additive to foods in order to alter the texture and cooking properties of the product.

It is such a great synthetic chemical that it is used in various other capacities, including wallpaper glue, shampoos and hair products, insulation tiles, and my personal favourite fun fact: cellulose is one of the main ingredients in KY JELLY.

MMMM.....don't you love having lubricant in your veggie patties? Yummm.

I could go on and on about the rest of the ingredients, but you get the point.

So yes, this veggie burger is derived from plants, but do you still consider it to be a "natural" product when all of the ingredients require so much refining?

You may as well make a toilet paper burrito filled with some peas and margarine, and add splash of personal glide gel to taste. Heat and serve and call it a day. But it's vegan and 100% plant based! And it is going to save the woooooorld.

That cow is looking mighty tasty to me.

What about said cow?

If you are REALLY boring and go for extra lean ground beef, a quarter pound patty would give you the same amount of protein as the aforementioned veggie burger, but with over 40% fewer calories, 85% less sodium, and over 60% less fat, with only 1 gram more of saturated fat, but yes, more cholesterol and no dietary fibre.

Oh, and it truly is 100% natural.

Now don't get me wrong, I love animals. They are cute. I feel sad when I watch the Sarah MacLachlan commercial. I get it. I definitely understand the environmental impacts of cattle farming, and we can talk about what I do at my office everyday to curb my carbon footprint another time.

But I am a hungry human, and veggie protein just does not cut it. I am made of meat. Meat is made of meat. I eat the meat and my body is happy. If I eat protein powder, my digestive tract does not appreciate it. It is a no-brainer for me.

Every former vegetarian I know has told me that they noticed a huge improvement in how they felt when they re-introduced healthy portions of healthy animal proteins to their diets.

Hi fives to all of those rejoining the dark side!!!!!

Once we humans get the hang of treating other humans with the respect and dignity that some people give animals, maybe I will consider eating vegetarian.

Haha kidding. I love steak.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Dave

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
By Category
Search By Tags
bottom of page