What’s the deal with fake meat?

July 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about our passion for real food made with real ingredients – local meat, fresh Ontario produce, and complementary seasonings prepared by our favourite local artisans. When you stick with food that’s pure and minimally processed, you really can’t go wrong.

That said, not everyone takes the same view as our family. It’s actually kind of a weird time to be a beef producer – every time we watch the news, we’re seeing things about plant-based meat alternatives taking the food industry by storm. They’re popping up in grocery stores, in fast food restaurants and all over popular social media pages.

Now, we aren’t marketers or Instagram influencers – we’re a fourth generation family farm that’s dedicated to producing high quality, ethical and sustainably-raised beef. But this trend has got us thinking about how and why foods become trendy, and what this means for consumers and their families. Let’s talk it out – and please, add your thoughts in the comments on Facebook. We’d be happy to hear your opinions on this!

Trendy doesn’t mean healthy

People turn to meat alternatives for a variety of reasons – but the thing is, plant-based burgers and other pseudo-meat products are not always the solution they’re after.

Look at it this way – what we’re offering at VG Meats is pure and simple, raised on our farm here in Ontario and prepared by our amazing team of skilled butchers. Everyone at VG Meats is passionate about good food, and we truly care about what we feed our customers as well as our own families.

We certainly aren’t opposed to plant-based foods – we love using local fruit and vegetables and have great relationships with many agriculture farmers in the region. What we aren’t as keen on is heavily processed meat alternatives that claim to be a healthy option for Canadian families. It’s particularly interesting to us when these products are made to taste very much like actual meat, because as food producers, we understand what needs to happen to a plant-based product for that to happen: plenty of salt, chemical additives, high levels of processing and other less than desirable qualities.

When advertising presents these processed items as a healthy alternative to meat, it leaves us scratching our heads. The calorie count on an all-natural beef burger is very close to the calorie count on a popular processed plant-based burger…but there are notable differences in content and nutrition. The processed, non-meat burger is packed full of sodium and still has a significant amount of saturated fat. A beef burger is literally just beef – all natural, raised locally, no surprises. And yet, the perception is that a plant-based burger is healthier than a beef hamburger. Why? Well, not because of facts, but because marketers are good at what they do. (Good news for them, but not so much for consumers!)

We care about the earth, too

One more thing to consider when choosing between real meat and plant-based alternatives is the idea that vegetarian options are inherently better for our planet. The truth is, we have dedicated ourselves to sustainable farming practices and believe that when done right, farming can actually help reduce carbon emissions. If you haven’t read our thoughts on climate change and agriculture, please do – this is another issue we are passionate about.

Think critically about what you’re eating

We don’t want to scare you or tell you what to order at a restaurant, but we think it’s important that people think critically about what they’re putting in their bodies. Are you eating that heavily-processed meat alternative because you enjoy it, or because you think it’s good for you? Ask yourself – what am I eating and why am I eating this?

There is a big difference between marketing and reality and we know our customers are smart enough to recognize the difference. For us, it’s as simple as this: real is always the best choice, and you deserve the best.