Whole Foods CEO: Plant-Based Meat is Good for the environment but not for your health
Whole Foods CEO recently advised the general public, to re-examine the components of plant-based meat. He says that while the meat is good for the environment, it may not be good for the health
“The [brands] who are capturing the imagination of people — and I’m not going to name these brands because I’m afraid I will be associated with the critique of it,” says John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Mackey, speaking to CNBC, "but some of these that are extremely popular now that is taking the world by storm, if you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods."
It is believed that the big brands Mackey alludes to; include Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods as they are the current two main players in the plant-based “meat” market.
"We launched Beyond Meat. We were their launching pad. I think all of their new products have been introduced at Whole Foods," says Mackey to CNBC Make It, confirming that Whole Foods once supported the creation of the plant-based meat company.
Impossible started up selling their beef burgers made from soy protein concentrate to restaurants. Today their products are now in about 10,000 restaurants which include, White Castle, Red Robin and Burger King and they have plans to launch in grocery stores in September 2019.
The two companies Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are doing excellently well today.In May, Beyond Meat had the best IPO so far in 2019. The market for meat substitutes is expected to hit $2.5 billion by 2023, according to Euromonitor estimates. And it is at this time, while the industry booms that certain consumers have begun to question the content of plant-based meat.
“I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods,” Mackey says. “As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big of criticism that I will do in public.”
“They are not necessarily healthier than beef burgers,” saysAlissa Rumsey, a registered dietician, who told CNBC in July, that both plant-based burgers and traditional beef burgers have the same amount of sodium and saturated fat. “They’re totally fine to eat, but there’s no need to replace your beef burger if you don’t enjoy these.”
Beyond Meat, claims that the ingredients for its plant-based patties include water, pea protein isolate expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein and other natural flavours, including apple extract and beet juice extract. Impossible Foods burger also alleges that their burger contains water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, potato protein, soy leghemoglobinand other natural flavours.
Even though plant-based meat may not be the healthier choice, a study commissioned by Beyond Meat with the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, has found that a plant-based burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 45% less energy, has 99% less impact on water scarcity, and 93% less impact on land use than a ¼ pound of traditional U.S. beef. Research has shown that plant-based meat, is the more ethical choice, for saving the environment.