Environmental Impact of Meat Analogues?? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-11-2013, 04:41 PM
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I have been hearing about the environmental impact of eating meat analogues. Does anyone know about this? Someone told me that meat analogues are as bad for the environment as factory farms! I have only been able to find one article on this, based on a study by someone named Atze van der Goot.

 

I don't eat a lot of meat analogues, but I think this is an important discussion point for vegans and vegetarians nonetheless.

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#2 Old 06-12-2013, 08:35 AM
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Raising animals for meat is incredibly resource consuming, taking thousands of gallons of water per pound of meat, for instance. I highly doubt that taking some soy and wheat and processing it in to a patty uses anywhere near the resources it takes to make even a small amount of meat. I don't have any numbers for faux meat, but for it to come anywhere near the environmental impact of raising farm animals, they would need to be burning down forests or dumping toxic waste en mass for each patty of faux meat they make, just for fun.
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#3 Old 06-12-2013, 08:46 AM
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Nowhere near AS BAD as factory farms. Nothing can top the exretement lagoons and simply harvesting a ton of plants to feed animals that could instead be used to feed people.

 

I usually tell people that it takes 10lb of grain to proudce 1lb of beef. Those 10lb of grain could have fed way more people than the amount of people eating off that one animal. It's also basic environmental science. Heck even my environmental class promoted vegetarianism (though everyone was a hypocrite and no one would do it....hence why I was the only vegan in the class) as energy is lost higher up the food chain.

 

As long as meat analogues are using plants, they will always be more environmentally sound. What you said is a first to hear from me too. No doubt a denfensive meateater grasping at straws. They don't even think for a moment that not all veg*ns eat meat substitutes.......


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#4 Old 06-12-2013, 08:50 AM
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This is quite useful for calculating the water required to produce food etc.

 

http://environment.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/freshwater/embedded-water/

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#5 Old 06-12-2013, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post
As long as meat analogues are using plants, they will always be more environmentally sound.

 

It would be nice if it were that simple but there are no tofurky trees. Most meat analogues are manufactured in chemical factories with rather voluminous waste streams, so its not so black and white.

Lets just briefly gloss over the extraction of protein from soya beans for later processing into mock meat:

 

They get the soy beans, no big thing.

They cheaply pump crude oil from the ground, causing environmental damage.

[Insert any relevant international regulatory and trade architecture and associated wars]

Crude oil is transported hundreds or thousands of miles, burning fuel and sometimes leaking, causing environmental damage.

Crude gets to a refinery, its distilled into various fractions, generating large waste streams of contaminated water, acid wastes that need to be neutralized and then dumped into the ocean, petroleum cracking catalyst waste, as well as cancer causing byproducts such as benzene, all causing environmental damage.

In that process they get a rather nice smelling, IMO, toxic hydrocarbon mix boiling near 69° C. That needs to be transported to another site burning fuel and demanding regulatory infrastructure along the way, it gets washed, cracked with more chemicals that need to be neutralized and disposed of, washed and treated more, and tested to ensure its food grade, all causing environmental damage. Thus you get 'food' grade mixed hexanes smiley.gif That stuff can cause cancer.

More transport, more bureaucrats, more testing gets it to the food factory, all causing environmental damage.

The soya is ground, combined with the hexane, and pressure and heat (fueled by electricity) is used to get the soy oils to migrate to the hexane. The hexane is drawn off and the hexane soaked soy is sort of baked and kiln dried (the fumes can be collected or just burned), the defatted soy is treated with pressure and steam to remove more contaminants and to modify the protein and thus the texture.. that takes electricity and produces a waste stream, all causing environmental damage.

The TVP is then transported to another factory for much further processing (more fuel, more bureaucrats) but what about all that hexanes extract? That needs to be washed, rewashed, and distilled splitting it into two liquids- contaminated hexanes and contaminated soy bean oil, both are treated with chemicals and washed more and processed more so the hexane can be re-used and the soy bean oil can be transported to other factories to use in processed foods, all causing environmental damage.

 

...and thats just one little (overly simplified) slice of the mock meat manufacturing process. It reads almost like the manufacture of fuel for a nuclear reactor.

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#6 Old 06-12-2013, 11:02 AM
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The soybeans being "no big deal" in your example is not true. Any form of production requires a lot of fuel and other resources, including trade regulations and inspections. These all add to the environmental footprint. This is all relative, of course. Raw soybeans use the least resources, in this example, then processed, then the finished product. Still, the resources used for that boca burger are are far less than used just in the process of raising animals for meat, let alone the further processing and transportation.
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#7 Old 06-12-2013, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auxin View Post

 

It would be nice if it were that simple but there are no tofurky trees. Most meat analogues are manufactured in chemical factories with rather voluminous waste streams, so its not so black and white.

Lets just briefly gloss over the extraction of protein from soya beans for later processing into mock meat:

 

 

I said more environmentally sound just in comparison to factory farming. I didn't mean the friendliest. But I suppose everything is debatle as there are numerous factors to account for. :)  Granted my environmental class didn't discuss so much meat analogues and their impact (I don't think half of them even know what a bocaburger is) so there is defintiely more room for discussion than if it was just eating all natural raw plants.  But I have got to hand it to you for pulling your knowledge in, you seem to know more than I do. *bows and backs away* notworthy.gif


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#8 Old 06-12-2013, 11:10 PM
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Auxin,

Thank you so much for that info! That is the kind of thing I was looking for. 

 

I'm vegan, and I don't eat many meat analogues at all; if I have a hankering for a veggie burger or vegan "meatloaf" or fake "bacon" I just make it from scratch at home. Tastes much better too. chef.gif

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#9 Old 06-13-2013, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Katie Moody View Post

The soybeans being "no big deal" in your example is not true.

 

True, industrial farming itself leaves a huge footprint and could be improved upon, I was just thinking relative to the idea that something has to be eaten and whatever it is would probably be grown on a huge farm. In which case soy would be at the baseline, or near to it, relative to stuff like beans and barley.

Its easy not to realize the vast resources that go into special processing for luxury foods. I once looked at the ingredients for a blueberry muffin and tried to imagine the complete manufacturing process and my head almost exploded wink3.gif

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#10 Old 01-03-2015, 08:47 PM
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Factory farming occurs on a much greater scale than faux meat production and so the former dwarfs the latter with respect to adverse environmental effects for this reason...

Additionally, the actual processes involved in factory farming will also be more harmful to the environment: deforestation, greenhouse gas production, waste produced by meat processing factories, chemicals used to process meats, packaging of meats etc...

Last edited by Go Vegan; 01-03-2015 at 08:51 PM.
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