A Better Way

Here’s a hypothetical question. If I asked you to eat a substitute item that was more expensive, provided a poorer nutritional profile, was made with more additives & fillers, delivered less of a critical macronutrient, and tasted worse, would you buy it?

It’s actually not a hypothetical question, as that is what Beyond Meat is asking consumers to do right now, and it’s not going well. Beyond Meat is hemorrhaging money, lost ($1.53) per share in the most recent quarter, announced they are cutting 19% of their workforce, recently had their CFO resign for what can only be described as a bizarre violation of code of conduct, and has seen their stock price fall from $108.62 on 10/21/21 to $13.35 on 10/14/2022, or about 88%. Investment “experts” will tell you this is due to inflation, but trial after trial of fake meat offerings across major quick service restaurants have resulted in failure. McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, Dunkin, Hardees, A&W and Panda Express have all launched trials with Beyond Meat, and all have discontinued the option.

Processed Hypocrisy

In a previous blog, we reviewed the definition of processed food. Now, let’s look at the ingredient panel for Beyond Meat:

So, if the US Dietary Guidelines are recommending American citizens eat less processed food, then why would we think this product is any better than another processed food with a compilation of fillers, inflammatory polyunsaturated oils, methyl cellulose as a binder, potato starch and fruit juices?

In comparison, here is the nutritional panel for Grass-Fed Beef Burgers sold at Costco. Notice the ingredient list: one item. No fillers, no inflammatory oils, no starches or juices, no carbs. Just high quality protein & fat.

Sorting Through Propaganda

We’re digesting an endless stream of lectures from world governments, the mainstream media, and billionaire influencers like Bill Gates about how meat is the scourge of the world and must be stopped in favor of plant-based solutions. Isn’t it interesting that not one of those propaganda promoters ever address the failed dietary guidelines that have been in place since the late 1970’s? During that time, obesity, T2 Diabetes and metabolic disorders have skyrocketed, even while people are exercising more, smoking less and paying more attention to health and wellness.

Have you noticed what foods are included in the term “plant-based?” According to Robert J Ostfeld:

A plant-based diet consists of all minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs, and spices and excludes all animal products, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

First of all, “minimally processed” would exclude the Beyond Meat products entirely from being considered plant-based. Secondly, almost all carbohydrates are included within “plant-based foods” while removing some of the most nutrient dense foods a human can consume, such as eggs, red meat and dairy. This seems to fit pretty well with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, which recommend 55%+ of calories from carbohydrates. So, could plant-based be a trojan horse…just another way to direct us to eat the same way we’ve been eating, even though we have almost 50 years of data to show that has been a flawed strategy?

5 Steps to a Better Way

Ask yourself, would you continue to follow a plan that, for almost 50 years, delivered diminished, and arguably, atrocious results? There is absolutely a better way, and here are the five steps we need to take:

  1. Revamp the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. They are outdated, have been proven to be woefully incorrect in their advice, and our population is sicker and in poorer metabolic health than any time in world history. Remember:
    • We’re spending about $4 Trillion on Healthcare Costs in the U.S., 90% of which are spent on chronic disease, and diabetes (90 – 95% is T2) is costing the U.S. almost $350B per year.
    • Perhaps you remember something called COVID-19? 75% of those who died from COVID-19 had at least four co-morbidities!
    • What are the two major external factors that contribute to chronic disease? Lifestyle (ie, smoking, drinking) and diet.
    • The U.S. government is listening to input as we speak about what we should be recommending, so write your congressional leaders and make your voices heard. It’s time to reverse the madness.
  2. Focus on Quality vs. Quantity. Creating “fake” versions of meat, eggs and other nutrient dense foods is not the answer. Creating an ecosystem where we nurture the land, reduce natural resource usage and waste, re-generate the soil, encourage animals to live a much healthier life through better feed and more activity, eliminate hormones & pesticides, and then reap the benefits of better quality human food consumption is a better strategy than either our current “high volume, low quality” machine or the “fake replacement” approach. Regenerative farming is absolutely the way to deliver both better quality AND better ecology, and I encourage you to look for food that is being offered from these regenerative farms. If you would like to read more about how regenerative farming is demonstrating impact, see here.
  3. Poly-Shift. The primary types of fats are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated. For a great reference on fats & foods that are preferred sources, check out dietdoctor.com. In summary, polyunsaturated fats are split into two groups: Omega 3 and Omega 6. Ideally, we should be eating a 1:1 balance between Omega 3 and 6 fats, but even a slight imbalance of 1:2 is manageable. Unfortunately, we’re WAY passed imbalance, though. In fact, the estimate is today’s diet has the ratio as high as 1:20. Why is that so important? Omega 3 fatty acids are generally considered anti-inflammatory while Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. In a 1:2 ratio, would that be a major issue? Not likely. But, in a 1:20 ratio, it could be catastrophic. Is it any wonder so much of the population is suffering from inflammatory conditions that lead to chronic disease? We need to eliminate vegetable and seed oils like safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil – as well as processed foods that contain them and shift our oil consumption to either (1) healthier monounsaturated oils like olive, avocado, & macadamia or (2) healthier saturated fats like grass fed butter, ghee or coconut oil.
  4. Address the Deserts. The food desert is the term used to describe areas of our country where people do not have access to quality foods. Lower socio-economic populations, usually in/around cities, are inundated with cheap, nutrient-poor foods, including grocery/convenience stores with an over-stock of sodas/soft drinks, chips & snacks, cookies and highly processed foods, as well as a huge penetration of fast food restaurants. We have enough food to feed everyone but need to reset the food ecosystem to more effectively and economically deliver quality options to eliminate the deserts and enable better nutritional choices for all groups.
  5. Flip the Pyramid. Quite simply, our dietary pyramid, created in support of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, is completely upside down. We need to be consuming significantly less processed foods, carbohydrates and fruits and more healthy fats (see above), quality protein and non-inflammatory vegetables. Instead of the foundation being carbs/grains/corn, the better pyramid might look more like a ketogenic pyramid…something like this: