If you're following your favorite celebrity or ex-President down the vegan diet route, you may want to skip the veggie burgers, cites new research on the massive environmental impact of producing faux-flesh products.
Healthier and more humane, adopting a vegan diet generally has a number of environmental boons as well. The highly successful Meatless Monday campaign uses the decreased environmental impact of plant foods versus the impact massive factory farms have on the planet, as one of it's most important reasons for choosing meat-free meals. Growing wheat or potatoes, for example, uses significantly less water than raising a cow. But, turn those crops into a fake steak, and you completely lose the environmental benefits, said Atze van der Goot, a Wageningen University associate professor speaking at the European Federation of Food Science and Technology, reports FoodNavigator.com.
Citing inefficiencies in processing ingredients into meat analogues, van der Goot says the process of separating soy and wheat into their protein, fat and fiber in mechanized and often chemical-aided industrial settings, requires an excessive amounts of fresh water and energy that are "incomparable" to the impacts of animal protein. In creating meat analogues, the plant is deconstructed and then put back together again to create a plethora of mock animal products including bacon, sausage, steaks, chicken 'breasts' and burgers.
Scientists are looking at ways to make the system less resource dependent; some researchers are even exploring ways to "grow" meat without the animals' central nervous systems. Lab-grown meat has been embraced by animal rights organizations for its ability to not only decrease the environmental impact, but the ethical issues that come with raising animals for food.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Rain Rabbit