Let’s talk plant-based meat.
I’ve recently noticed a lot of comments from readers who don’t “get” foods like Tindle, a plant- based product that tastes, smells and has the texture of chicken meat. I recently signed on as their Culinary Advisor because I believe this kind of food innovation is important.
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Many people are confused about what plant-based meat really is. Now on top of that, I just launched a show about cooking wild foods, game and fish, foraged plants and so on. I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive at all. Here is why:
Our food system is broken in many places and getting worse.
Our climate crisis is worsening by the day endangering global crop production.
People in our food system, especially those that plant, pick, pack, ship, cook, clean our food have suffered in an abusive environment for decades; underpaid, lacking benefits, etc.
We need to eat more plants for our personal health and to extend our life spans (I’m talking 13 YEARS!).
We need to eat more plants and foods from aquaculture systems for the betterment of our environment and the safety of our planet.
Eating in America, especially eating well, is a class issue.
Food-related diseases cost us over 1.5 trillion dollars a year. It was 1 trillion five years ago.
Over 40 million Americans and almost 900 million people globally are hungry.
We have no free national school meals program, so just under 20% of children in America are hungry. That’s a genocidal issue since we have the skill and means, but not the political will to fix this horrific injustice.
Almost 40% of food production in America is wasted, most of it pre consumer contact.
Our immigration system is badly in need of reform and results  in too few farm workers, crab pickers, deck hands, etc. Business owners need seasonal workers but we don’t have enough visas for them.
The raising of commercial CAFO livestock in America is an ecological disaster amongst other problems.
I could keep going, but it’s getting rapidly more depressing as I tally all of this up. We need change on a household level, in our communities, municipalities, states and at the federal level. This is THE crisis of our time and we need to take some action.
Personally, I am eating less meat. A lot less.
I am wasting less by buying less. I keep a log of what foods I throw away so I can see my patterns and correct them. I am asking politicians real kitchen table issue questions whenever I can, and voting for those working to fix our planet and remake our food system. I am eating and supporting Tindle, because plant-based meats and eggs like the ones made from the Just company make a huge difference.
If everyone in America ate a few vegetarian meals a week, cut down on meat portions in alignment with nutritional guidelines, skipped a meal or two a week (not kids or the elderly, etc.), took a meal or two from a meal replacement resource and so on, our collective impact on the commercial food system would be immensely beneficial. Add in a meal taken from the wild once a week, for those that are able, and the difference is even more profoundly impactful.
And I love meat…I do.
I still enjoy it a few times a week and in much smaller portions than I used to. And supporting eating meat AND plant-based options are not mutually exclusive. We need to employ a balanced and reason ecosystem of solutions and transitions to make a lasting and meaningful impact.
So why are foods like Tindle important?
I have seen a lot of comments like “No fake food for me, please” or “no such thing as plant-based meat” or “nothing is more processed than fake meat” coming from my readers.
Here is the skinny. Plant-based meat emits 30%–90% less greenhouse gas than conventional meat. Worldwide, animal agriculture contributes more to climate change than exhaust emissions from the entire transportation sector.
Plant-based meat's greenhouse gas emissions are:
34 percent lower than farmed fish
43 percent lower than poultry
63 percent lower than pig
87 percent lower than beef from dairy cows
93 percent lower than beef from beef herds.
Other plant-based meat facts:
Plant based meats use 87 percent less water
They take up 96 percent less land
They have 89 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than chicken and beef farms.
Many nay-sayers claim that plant based meat companies clear forests to grow their soy, oats, peas, legumes, etc. However, the land used to grow those plants is already available for farming and the greenhouse gas emissions from producing plant-based meat is dwarfed by that of traditional herd agriculture.
Long story long, mixing in plant-based meat to your diet is a good thing. If we learn anything as the years go by, it’s that science always lags behind the innovation. Remember when we all thought margarine was the answer to better heart health? But right now, EVERY indicator is that companies like Tindle and Just are net-positive for our environment and our personal health. So I am all in.
And as for why I eat them and at the same time am an avid outdoorsman and enjoy teaching people how to cook what they harvest from the wild? As long as we are taking those animals from sustainable and managed wildlife areas, it’s part of a balanced lifestyle. The four or five hunts and fishing trips I take puts dozens of meals on my families table and means less pressure on other resources.
Look, the problems are all bulleted up top, I want to make a difference in every one of them, which is what I try to do every chance I get. And it all starts with what you eat and the choices you make to ensure a better future for everyone. I am changing up how I eat, and I would ask you to consider doing the same.
Are you open to trying plant-based meats? Or eating less animal products? Share in the comments.
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