There’s no question that 2019 has been the year of plant-based meat. It’s everywhere and everyone is talking about it. This is the year that a vegan meat company, Beyond Meat, went public for the first time; Burger King rolled out its Impossible Whopper nationwide; and even JBS, the world’s largest meat producer, announced the launch of a plant-based burger by year’s end. The revolution is here.
But the media is fucking it up.
If you’ve been following the news stories around the exploding popularity of plant-based meat, you’ve noticed coverage curiously seems to focus on one question: Is plant-based meat healthy? Check out this story from July by CBS News, this one by Business Insider from April, or this article by Men’s Journal. This is just a sampling of the dozens of pieces I’ve seen with this theme so far this year. It’s as if the world’s media outlets all got together and decided this is how they would incompetently fumble their coverage of an innovation that literally has the potential to save the world.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. The stark reality is that animal agriculture, particularly beef production, is destroying our planet, and at an escalating rate. But don’t take my word for it, just google the UN’s IPCC report released earlier this month, which found meat production to be an environmental catastrophe and a towering contributor to the climate crisis. The findings had scientists calling on the world’s population to urgently limit its meat consumption in favor of planet-friendly plant-based foods. That’s only the most recent study of dozens that have been done in recent years that all arrive at the same conclusion.
Which brings me to today. As I write this, Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the “lungs of the planet,” is being engulfed in flames at an unprecedented rate – and a majority of it is from burning for beef production.
Brazil is the world’s second-largest beef producer, second only to the United States, and big ag clears vast swaths of the rainforest by burning it for cattle grazing or to raise monocrops like soy to feed to cattle. Right now, we are losing an area of land in the rainforest that’s equivalent to one and a half soccer fields every minute of every day.
Environmentalists shuddered when Brazil elected far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who promised to weaken protections for the Amazon in favor of business development. They were right. Now the whole world is shuddering.
Yet, instead of heralding plant-based meat as a solution to this tragedy, our media outlets seem hell-bent on only focusing on how healthy vegan meat may or may not be – as if people have been eating burgers all this time for health reasons.
Well, since you brought it up, is plant-based meat heathier for us? Of course it fucking is.
Let’s start with this: Plant-based meat is not annihilating the world. Honestly, none of this, “Is plant-based meat heathier?” nonsense is really going to matter if we don’t have any air left to breathe.
In terms of human health, plant-based meat doesn’t contain any cholesterol and most brands are lower in saturated fat than animal-based meat. Vegan meat also isn’t a known carcinogen like red meat. You know… as in it doesn’t cause cancer. Moreover, plant-based meat doesn’t contain fecal matter and it isn’t contaminated with harmful bacteria like E. coli. “Waaah… but it’s processed!” Oh, so now you care about processed? How about the fact that one hamburger can contain the meat of more than 100 cows? How’s that for processed?
So, what about heathier when it comes to the planet? A Beyond Burger requires 99 percent less water, 93 percent less land, and 46 percent less energy to produce than a beef burger. Beyond’s products also create 90 percent less greenhouse gases per burger. Where is the media reporting these numbers?
And then, of course, there’s the animals who are exploited, abused, and violently killed to the tune of billions a year to satisfy the world’s self-destructive appetite for meat.
So, here’s my challenge to all media outlets: Do better. The world doesn’t have time for you to be dicking around with this bullshit.
Plant-based meat is here and yes, it’s healthier – for everyone. Report that.