EarthTalk: I recently became vegetarian for
ethical reasons, but I am missing the taste of meat. Are
there any tasty veggie options out there that can satisfy
my desire for steak and chicken? – Missy Jenkins,
are more choices than ever for vegetarians with
latent carnivorous instincts, from Kellogg's-owned
Morningstar Farms products to offerings from Beyond
Meat, a new venture funded by heavyweights like
Bill Gates and Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and
Evan Williams. Pictured: Beyond Meat's Chicken-Free
Strips "without the cluck."
credit: Sid Sowder, courtesy Flickr
from its brutal treatment of livestock animals, the meat
industry is no doubt one of the worst offenders when it
comes to the environment. Producing one kilogram of beef
requires 150 square meters of land and 15,000 liters of
water, most of which is used to grow feed for the animal.
That same kilogram generates 27 kilograms of climate-altering
carbon dioxide, the equivalent of driving a car more than
100 miles. Indeed, beef has 13 times the carbon emissions
of an equivalent amount of vegetable-based protein.
mouths around the world take a hit, too: Some 70 percent
of the grain produced in the U.S. is fed to livestock animals
but the land used to grow it could feed some 800 million
people instead. For this and other reasons many of us have
given up meat altogether. But it doesn’t mean we don’t
still crave the taste.
there are more choices than ever for vegetarians with latent
carnivorous instincts. One young company, Beyond Meat, has
millions of dollars in funding from high-tech heavyweights
and has made a big splash in recent months with the launch
of its first two meat alternative products, Beef-Free Crumbles
and Chicken-Free Strips. Each of its products looks and
tastes like the meat it is emulating while offering the
same protein content—but without any saturated or
trans fats or cholesterol, let alone gluten or genetically
modified organisms (GMOs). In taste tests, most consumers
can’t tell which dishes contain actual beef or chicken
versus Beyond Meat’s self-proclaimed “perfect
The company reports that it takes four-tenths of a pound
of soy and pea plants to make a pound of their Chicken-Free
Strips, versus three pounds of grain-based feed to get a
pound’s worth of meat from an actual chicken. That
all translates into many fewer pesticides and carbon emissions
and much less water used in the process. Beyond Meat’s
investors include the leading Silicon Valley venture capital
firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Twitter co-founders
Biz Stone and Evan Williams’ Obvious Corporation,
and even Bill Gates, who has expressed his hope that the
company’s products can play a role in switching more
people in developing countries over to plant-based proteins.
course, there are many other meat alternatives out there,
too. A trip down the freezer aisle at Whole Foods yields
sightings of Amy’s Bistro Burgers, Gardenburgers,
Boca Burgers, Gardein Ultimate Beefless Sliders and Beefless
Tips, Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers and Sol Cuisine
Meatless Chicken. Meanwhile, the Meat Alternatives section
of VeganEssentials.com offers up Upton’s Naturals’
Bacon Style Seitan Strips, Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded
Vegan Fishless Sticks, Field Roast’s Classic Vegan
Meatloaf, and even Meatless Select Fishless Vegan Tuna.
Another classic option is any number of meatless products
from the Kellogg’s-owned Morningstar Farms, which
are widely available in mainstream grocery stores from coast-to-coast
and which account for some 60 percent of the meat alternatives
market in the U.S.
meat production expected to double by 2050 as the world’s
human population tops nine billion, there has never been
a better time to start curbing our enthusiasm for conventional
steaks, hamburgers, chicken breasts and sausages.
Beyond Meat, www.beyondmeat.com;
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