I have been plant-based since before “plant-based” was a commonly used label. I was eating this way before veggie burgers changed colors while cooking, before there was a plethora of vegan milks other than soy, before chain vegan restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, though, I welcome most of those changes.
The first time we visited a restaurant 8 or 9 years ago, my children distrusted everything. They all prefaced their order with, “Is that vegan?” We now visit that restaurant several times a year and it’s an outing that we continue to enjoy. In the beginning of our journey we were a soy milk family. Of course, that was all that the major grocers were selling at the time. We’re now regularly drinking almond milk. My point is that we embrace change, but this new plant-based burger boom frightens me. I’m still trying to figure out if it is real food.
Let us not even consider the fact that in the popular, mainstream burger joints, all the food is cooked on the same grills and in the same oil as meat. Let’s get past the fact that they garnish the burgers with animal-based toppings and let’s instead focus on the plant-based food itself. Is it really food? Is it natural? Is it healthy?
According to the Impossible Foods website, their products contain “2 genetically engineered ingredients: heme (soy leghemoglobin) – the “magic” molecule that makes meat taste like meat—and soy protein.”
“To make heme: We take the DNA for soy leghomoglobin, insert it into yeast, and ferment the yeast. By making our heme using genetic engineering, we avoid growing and digging up soy plants to harvest heme (from the root nodules), which would promote erosion and release carbon stored in the soil. The method we’ve adopted enables us to produce heme sustainably at high volume and make meat from plants for millions of people that is delicious, nutritious and vastly more sustainable than meat from animals.”
On UCSUSA.org (Union of Concerned Scientists), sustainable agriculture is described as “good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farms rely on.”
What about genetically modified soy, says sustainable agriculture?
Unfortunately, there have been no human trials on GMO’s effects on the human body, but according to experiments done on rats, GMO’s are harmless and show no significant adverse reactions. Yeah, right. Fortunately though, there have been people resourceful enough to get around the limited info on this topic to reach some conclusion.
A study entitled “GMO Myths and Truths – An Evidence-based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods” explicitly outlines the dangers of the consumption of GMO’s. It counters the popularly repeated results of animal testing with, “Most animal feeding studies on GMOs are short-term or medium-term in length – too short to show long-term (chronic) effects such as organ failure, cancer, or reproductive problems.” It continues, “What is needed are long-term and multi-generational studies on GMOs to see if the signs of toxicity commonly reported in shorter studies develop into serious disease. But such studies are not required by government regulators anywhere in the world. Industry and regulators often dismiss findings of toxicity in animal feeding trials on GMOs by claiming they are “not biologically significant” or “not biologically relevant”. However, these terms have never been properly defined in the context of animal feeding trials with GMOs and are scientifically meaningless.”
My choice to be vegan originated with the desire to be healthy, so GMO’s wrapped in our new favorite label, “plant-based” is off our menu. I appreciate all the new options that we have, but we need to be very careful in our choices. Some of these new options are really just ploys to get our money despite the risks that come with the products. Many of these organisms haven’t been proven to be dangerous to us, but they haven’t been proven to be safe either. These new creations can bring new problems that we never intended to have. I will be sticking to the foods that support good health, not big business.
If you are interested in the study, you can find it here. http://livingnongmo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/GMO-Myths-and-Truths-edition2.pdf
Looking Through Vegan Colored Glasses is a vegan lifestyle blog curated by a Black mom and four of her vegan raised kids, covering their opinions on health, food, and fashion.