Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vegetarian Processed Food is Still Processed Food

A not very surprising (to me anyway) and maybe a little short, but still interesting article at Mother Jones on the environmental costs of fake meat products:
In general, Eshel says, it's true that raw veggies are an excellent nutritional bargain: For every 100 calories of energy put into producing conventional beef, from farm to supermarket shelf, you get only six calories back to eat. Compare that with apples, which yield 110 calories, or raw soy: an amazing 415. In terms of greenhouse gases, switching from a diet that includes red meat to a plants-only one is roughly equivalent to trading in your SUV for a Camry.

But a girl can only eat so much roasted kale before she starts craving protein: tofu, veggie burgers, and the (okay, creepy) occasional piece of fakin' bacon. But coaxing soy into a red-and-white rectangular strip takes work—which is why Eshel believes most veggie burgers are the caloric equivalent of "shooting yourself in the foot." A 2009 study by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology found that while producing a plate of peas requires a fraction of the energy needed to produce the same number of calories of pork, the energy costs of a pea-burger and a pork chop are about equal.

Personally I've always found fake meat products to be incredibly dumb... especially in this day and age, where you can do a fair amount to ensure that your eating meat from humanely treated animals. Obviously there's still going to be some animal blood on your hands, but if you feel there is a whole in you life that can be filled by a tofurkey... you should probably just eat the turkey.