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Meat-free 'Impossible Burger 2.0' tastes even closer to the real deal (engadget.com)
390 points by alangpierce 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 523 comments

Congrats to that team for building a great product. I hope they see a lot of success. Long term, I hope plant based meat alternatives become commoditized. If there are a bunch of alternatives that taste just as good and importantly are cheaper than meat, most people will switch. That's a huge win for the environment (and also animal rights), and I can't wait to see it happen.

When compared to meat there is almost no doubt that Impossible is better for the environment.

Impossible has an environmental mission first.

Checkout the sustainability report from 2017 http://www.ift.org/~/media/Food%20Technology/Weekly/IF_Susta...

Or the update from 2018 https://impossiblefoods.com/if-pr/2018-Impact-Update/

At least mention that you work for the company.

Your right I should have included the disclaimer that I previously worked there.

> I should have included the disclaimer that I previously worked there

Or perhaps a disclosure. A disclaimer is sort of the opposite:

"I believe X about company Y. Disclosure: I work(ed) there, so could be biased."

"I believe X about company Y. Disclaimer: I have never worked there, so could be completely wrong."

good to know for this non native speaker. thank you

Why is it his right?

It looks like a typo. "You're right" was intended, not "Your right".

Because his left is currently indisposed, of course!

Why "no doubt"? What's your basis for that?

I'm no expert, but I expect land is different in different places. There are different sources of feed. Someone changes a supplier or a farming practice, and it changes a number in a spreadsheet, and you'll get a different answer.

Accounting gets complicated enough with money. When you're doing science it's much more difficult.

This sounds like the sort of thing that scientists and economists can debate for decades. I'm certainly not going to trust some unsourced numbers in a press release.

The burger is made primarily from Soy. Soy accounts for 2/3 of global protein feed. Humans eating directly from livestock's primary food source is likely to be much more efficient at a global scale.

Where did you get soy is the primary food source for cattle?

This article recommends no more than 20% soy in cattle’s diet. The article is from last year. [1]

>Researchers have found that when the oil content of the ration exceeds 7 percent, it can be toxic to the microbes in the cattle’s rumen and decrease digestibility. Too much oil in cattle rations will lead to scours (diarrhea), cessation of rumen fermentation and, eventually, death.

“Because of these limitations, the recommended upper limit of feeding would be about 20 percent of the ration,” Hoppe says. “Practical feeding levels are probably more like 2 to 3 pounds per head per day. At this low rate of supplementation, soybeans provide an excellent source of protein and energy.”


Interesting, this might be why soy is pressed for its oil before being used as cattle feed. The resulting patties are used as feed and the oil byproduct is sold.

I don’t think that’s the case.

It is not feasible for a farmer to buy feed during the lifetime of the animal. It’s the reason they have huge pastures for grazing during warm months. During winter they are usually fed hay.

All beef is grass fed period. Some are finished at the end with corn or other dense grains (your soy patties).

Here’s an article from a Meat Scientist.


> All beef is grass fed period. Some are finished at the end with corn or other dense grains (your soy patties).

Visit the Harrison Ranch (on I-5, south-east of SF), and see for yourself how they're treated.

I am not sure about california, but I can confirm that Texas beef is essentially all grass-fed. This is from observation and from speaking with ranchers I know. Grass-fed also has a better taste, in my opinion.

There is nowhere near enough grass to feed nearly all Texas cattle to marketable size in Texas. Nearly all commercial cattle are bred and born in Mexico from US genetic stock and transferred to the US for fattening with cattle feed because it is cheaper to breed in Mexico and feed in the US. Last I checked only about 3% of US beef was fully grass fed. So it's fully possible you know some grass fed ranchers, but it's unlikely that the second biggest export in Texas is possible without massive amounts of cattle feed. Grass fed beef tasting better is subjective but the costs associated with the process appear to dictate that to consumers it's something they are willing to pay for.

*mostly grass fed but with other supplemental feed.

Mad cow disease propagates from feeding cows the ground up bits of other infected cows.[0]


There has been 6 cows infected with mad cow disease in the US[1] and only 4 cases in humans.[2]



Except when the feed is actually sheep.

It takes energy to process soya into an edible patty. It does for meat patties as well, so I am curious about the comparison (eg. a soy patty takes x Kw to make, a beef one takes y Kw).

Where I think meat has an advantage is that "we" don't need to use energy to make the patty taste good, the cow does that naturally using the feed. But a soy patty needs all sorts of things added to it and we need to use energy and water to actively process it into something edible.

If we were just eating the soya beans as we pulled them out of the ground, it would be far more sustainable. But beef tastes great right off the cow! Soya is quite bland.

You have to include all the energy that went into feeding the cow over the period of its life.

Except much beef is raised on grass. Some of that isn't even watered. This is effectively solar-based.

It's more efficient to ship grain than cattle, and most cattle still requires feed to get to market size. The whole mythos behind cattle drives was to get them to a location for slaughter and shipping. The same exact thing you said about cattle is the same as grains, except cows require more water external to the grass.Cows also require maintenance above what crops typically do as well. Ranchers are very good at what they do, however it's still a ton of work. Farming is slowly becoming significantly more automated, which is a good thing as less people are interested in becoming farmers.

Your parent is employed by Impossible Foods based on their post history.

This appears to be right. It’s a valid disclaimer to note in such a discussion.

Your right I probably should have disclosed that I previously worked there but it's fairly clear from my post history so I figured it didn't matter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now we have to go back and look at everyone’s post history in every thread?

Only if you want to argue about the person rather than about the points they are making.

> Soy accounts for 2/3 of global protein feed.

This may be the current case, but it doesn't, indeed shouldn't, be so. It just happens that in the US, CAFO's are the best (financially) way to raise beef cattle.

In any case, livestock's primary food source should never have been soy beans.

Soy contains phytoestrogens which certain populations (e.g. women pregnant with male fetuses) may be advised to reduce intake of or avoid. Something to keep in mind as meat replacements become more popular - that it may not be a one-size-fits-all solution.

I recently looked into the literature and I think the evidence is ambiguous [1] If you've found some clear evidence supporting your case, could you point me in the right direction?


Complete bogus, please abstain from spreading this misinformation. Unlike animal products which contain actual hormones active in humans plant products have an negligible effect and you would have to consume impossible amounts for the smallest of effects. Further, phytoestrogens actually benefit humans

  ...you would have to consume impossible amounts for the smallest of effects

  Further, phytoestrogens actually benefit humans
Maybe I'm not parsing things well, but these 2 statements seem contradictory.

From what I understand, the phytoestrogens take the place of real mammalian estrogen, but our bodies don't process it like real estrogen, so its actually good for men who want less estrogen. It acts almost like an estrogen blocker.

Whereas drinking cow's milk, for example, is high in estrogen because its from it comes from a large female after giving birth.

Not contradictory, but working to different ends.

"You shouldn't worry about this because phytoestrogens aren't present"

"You shouldn't worry about this because phytoestrogens are beneficial"

Both can be true at once, and support the end argument, it's just not particularly helpful or harmful if both are true at the same time.

I mean, that's true with meat, too.

The estrogen in beef is actual, mammalian estrogen. Which would you expect your body to interact most within digestion? Of course it’s going to be the stuff that’s closest to it.

The FUD being spread around soy is ridiculous.

Other nutrients that tend to be harder to find in plants than animals also tend to be more poorly absorbed than their animal counterparts. B12, iron, d, zinc, etc.

I would not expect a better reaction from actual, mammalian estrogen. It doesn't work that way with opioids: carfentanyl is a whole lot more powerful than dynorphins, enkephalins, endorphins, endomorphins and nociceptin.

Also, quantity matters. Plants might produce a lot more than mammals do.

In any case, the breast growth on males is no joke. That is just the affect on adults, who are far less susceptible than babies. However it works, soy is a serious hazard and should have the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status removed.

It sounds like you didn't read the report or check the references on page 26.

I recommend reading this paper and coming to your own conclusion about "almost no doubt". Within sustainability science, there is little debate about the lack of efficiency to produce protein via cows.


That's more impressive, and yet, as a non-expert, I still don't know how to evaluate whether the calculation is bug-free. Do you? I guess I'd have to track down all the references and build my own spreadsheet? There are some spreadsheets listed in the references, but it seems like a complicated task.

Just to nit-pick one little detail, it seems to treat all land the same: "Significant decreases in land occupation also follow from a shift away from animal-based foodstuffs. The VEG and VGN occupy 70% and 79% less land than the MUD, respectively (VEG = -63% and VGN = -74% for isocaloric diet comparison)."

But, prime farmland and grazing for grass-fed beef aren't the same, so adding them up and taking a percentage seems dubious. (I'm also skeptical of estimates with no margin of error.)

Given that no single scientific paper is definitive (you need to read the literature) I don't see how to come to a conclusion on any of this without a whole lot more work than I'm going to put into it for an online discussion.

Juse because "we can't be absolutely sure" doesn't mean the evidence doesn't point in a direction.

There doesn't seem to be ground to overwhelmingly doubt to evidence to the point where the conclusions are radically reversed.

It's a known cognitive bias (assuming you don't know what you're doing) or sophism (if you do).

See: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/GrDqnMjhqoxiqpQPw/the-proper...

While I don't have a basis for saying the most common take on things is wrong, the way I think of this is: what's the likelihood that we'll see a new study that proves the opposite of what most non-experts (or even experts) currently believe?

In the case of nutrition, economics, and ecology, my rough answer is "rather high". (Consider Piketty and spreadsheet errors.) And answering this question combines all of them. If being right matters, I'd hedge my bets.

Most people aren't heavily invested in Impossible Foods, so bet-hedging basically means letting them do their thing and seeing how it turns out. I look forward to trying their new product.

I'm just quibbling with "no doubt". Just like being an expert in most subjects is unnecessary, being doubt-free is unnecessary for most people in most subjects, and I think most conversations would go better if the true believers (and radical cynics) backed off a bit and acknowledged uncertainty.

While I take your point that there is always some uncertainty involved sometimes it is just not that productive to reinforce doubt... otherwise we would never move forward.

Look at climate change... are we 100% certain? Of course not but there is overwhelming evidence that is just prudent to act even for the faint possibility of being wrong.

Same here... logic (how could be creating a living thing to slaughter it and eat it be more effecient than processing and eating the feed itself? That would mean raising an animal with all its (unnecessary) complexity was more efficient than our focused industrial processes...) and evidence (e.g., scientific studies and calculations) very much point to the direction that production of meat alternatives would be much more environmentally friendly (at scale).

I don’t think this is so much about “true believers” but there is simply a lot of evidence pointing in the direction that this is really something that could improve the world in many dimensions.

But you are certainly right that like any other pursuit this should be done dillegiently and with care. If you have specific criticism of some evidence that should be discussed... However, there is no need to be overly sceptic and lay bricks on the road if there is no credible evidence pointing in that direction (In this case baseline skepticism doesn’t seem to hold up against the available evidence at this point). Change will be difficult and reinforcing doubt might delay the development and roll out of viable products at high costs to environment and animals.

Until we stop wasting farmland growing crops for cows their is zero difference between crop land and farm land.

Scrub land filled with cows is obviously terrible for the environment, but so is the wasteland traditional farming creates. We call it insecticide but it really kills off entire ecosystems. Minimizing impact means minimizing the land we use.

The original comment wrote off the report as "some unsourced numbers in a press release" - I aimed to show it was more than that. Impossible has quite the academic rigor.

Agreed - there's plenty of room to interpret the specific numbers.

Sure it's less efficient when compared to high protein crops, but there are vaste acres of land that can't be farmed and can only sustain grazing animals (and then some of those are more feed efficient than others, say, cows vs sheep)

Does this mean the company will sell it for as cheap as possible regardless of profit? And release all IP of course?

If not, the purpose is to make money and the "mission" is just marketing BS.

That’s not really true.

They would need change their model to meat based burgers after they gain market share for their mission to be BS. Profit has nothing to do with it.

What you are proposing would prevent them from building a healthy company that can maximize market share and have the largest possible beneficial impact on the environment. I want them to drive all the meat based competitors out of business.

Why does it have to be this company maximizing market share? Releasing the IP would allow others to do that as well, likely increasing the overall meatless share.

I don’t know since I am not the CEO or even in the industry.

Maybe open source IP model would fail to get critical mass. Maybe the best path forward is to get Burger King as an investor.

If they maximize profits while still being committed to an environmentaly friendly meat replacement, that doesn’t mean they are limiting their impact in any way. It’s just as likely they are maximizing their impact.

I personally don’t care how much money they make, but I do care about the environment and animal rights.

So one reason companies like to vertically integrate with companies that supply the goods/services they use in their products is to open up economies of scale and decrease costs. Ie instead of getting protein from an animal that has to be raised on plants they’re getting protein straight from the plant source. It’s always going to be a cheaper to go closer to the source, “if you can make it work” - in a sane universe without subsidies.

I agree. They "conveniently" forget to state their primary mission: make a bundle for the proprietors (founders, investors, etc). Either in profit or at exits.

While doing that they have some additional missions, which is cool, but in absence of that first point I do agree it comes off as marketing BS.

At the very least, they have investors[0].

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_Foods#Financing

There's a really handy way to estimate the amount of resources that go into (and thus, the environmental impact of) making a product:

Its price.

When these are significantly cheaper than beef, then it'll be safe to state categorically that they are better for the environment. Until then, it's mostly a game of "pay attention to these metrics that favor my product and ignore the metrics which favor the competition".

That is false. Almost always, cheaper != environmental. Environmental practices often cost more, and this gets passed on to the consumer.

Case in point, soy gets 8% the share of agricultural government subsidies while feed for animals gets 34%: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy#United_St...

Price only reflects what consumers are willing to pay and the effects of subsidies, NOT the environmental impact...

but environmental impact is often an externality that isn't included in the price.

If you ignore that, you get all kinds of obviously wrong things: a cheap gas guzzling car is cleaner than a tesla; natgas for electricity is cleaner than nuclear. etc. And worse, when you start talking about tech that hasn't scaled up yet.. if you go back 10 years, you would get: solar panels are worse than burning coal.

The price is not an indicator of environmental impact.

The price of beef does not include the environmental impact so I'm not sure this is a good indicator of the impact of making a product. Beef/Milk in the USA is also subsidized...

Beef is expensive though! I don't think people are reading the grandparent post carefully enough. I think the point is correct.

Obviously at the margins there are costs to environmental impact that may or may not be realized in consumer pricing and there's lots to argue about on the regulatory side.

But in general, if you have to "equivalent" products shipped and produced in bulk, and one costs 4x as much as another (roughly where "beef vs. soy protein" lands for the consumer), it's a really good bet that the cheaper one involved less energy to produce.

Or there are significant fixed costs that have not been amortized - for example, R&D for an entirely new type of burger. It’s very possible that the materials cost (growing ingredients + manufacturing) of the impossible burger is less than the materials costs of a beef burger while still costing more in a store.

Not the person you're responding to, but their grand parent. If you look at food costs at the grocery store, it's pretty clear that a plant based burger which is cheaper than a beef based burger is possible in theory. And I actually believe that this will happen eventually, but I was responding to somebody who was stating categorically that these burgers were more environmentally friendly than beef burgers. My point was simply that that's probably not the case today.

And to speak to your point specifically: if it were simply a matter of reducing per-unit R&D costs by achieving economies of scale, they should be selling below cost so that they can grow unit volume. It's hard to achieve economies of scale when your product is more expensive than the competition.

This is only true if there are no significant externalities.

I love meat but I've always struggled to reconcile my love of eating it with my love of animals. I would be happy to pay a premium if it meant I could get meat-like taste without the guilt

I'm more excited about where they go after they get passed the "uncanny valley of meat". If they can nail it, they'll get bored and move on to new and weirder flavors and textures.

Hook it up to Watson and you don't just get new recipes, but they're combined with new meat! (https://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/trends-news/ar...)

I wonder if they can somehow replicate the flavor in bones. I'd love to make stock or a stew, but so much of the "meaty" flavor comes from bones

With a combination of porcini powder (ground dried porcini mushrooms), nutritional yeast, MSG, miso, kombu, and something with hydrolyzed vegetable protein, you can make some almost-meaty tasting stocks that have as much richness/flavor/oomph as any bone broth. I'm not vegetarian, but I have friends and business partners who are, and I like a challenge. Any four of those six (careful with the yeast -- it gets overpowering quickly) can combine for a pretty powerful stock or sauce. I use most of them in my regular cooking, too.

I eat plant-based and don't know what bone broth tastes like, but I assume very savory from the others descriptions

When I want to cook savory foods, there's certain things you can look to:

1. Miso pastes. There's several kinds but in a regular American grocery with international sections you'll usually find a mild white miso and a slightly more pungent red one. Both are usually savory. I am sure Chinese and Japanese groceries will have more options.

2. Seaweed

3. Certain vegetable broth brands - "Better than Bouillan" vegetable stock, with the green label, is extremely savory

4. Less of an impact, but certain foods, like lentils and tempeh can impart an earthy, savory flavor

You'd be surprised how many flavors you can get mixing these in various quantities, along with other seasonings such as liquid aminos, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, roasted tomatoes, and soy sauce.

are you telling me all miso pastes aren't savory? I love cooking with miso and if there is a world of non-savory miso out there that I'm blind to I would be very excited.

Not the OP, but while all miso is savoury you can mix it with a variety of different things. Some miso sauces in Japan have a lot of sugar in them and I've even had miso ice cream. It's very good.

i'm a lot happier calling miso umami than savory. i reserve savory for things more herbal flavors.

I originally learned to cook by going through the entire "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (it took me 3 years). Later in life I was completely broke and had to give up either meat or beer. I chose to give up meat :-) Even later in life I figured I might as well go whole hog (hmm???) and become vegan. I learned how to cook again.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone wanting to learn how to cook really good vegetable based meals (and who doesn't want to adopt an already established ethnic vegan diet) is to forget ingredients and instead focus on techniques. Cooking is applied chemistry. You need to understand why certain foods and certain preparations give certain results. You can then replicate similar results.

It's not so much that you want to imitate the "meaty" flavour of beef bones, but rather that you want to create a similarly satisfying broth. If you try to imitate an existing food, you will always end up with a pale shadow of that food. Instead make something that has the same value, but with a different ingredient. It will be different just like chicken stock is different from beef stock which is different than lamb stock which is different than pork stock. But it will be just as good.

For stocks, it's complicated because vegetables are sweet. You want umami for stocks. As much as possible keep the sweetness out of the stock (because it will get in there no matter what you do). Fermented proteins (miso as others have said -- but make sure to get the oldest you can find), beans/lentils, rice, etc. Stay away from things like a mirepoix because it will add too much sweetness. You can add onions, but caramelise them down to being black, etc, etc. To be honest, there is too much to making a good stock to explain here. You just need to practice and adjust until you get what you are looking for. Learning an ethnic cuisine that is already traditionally vegan will help a lot if you pay attention to the techniques they are using. At the same time consider what a bone stock is doing in a stock pot. What is meat? What is connective tissue? What is skin? What is marrow? What happens when you simmer that for 5 hours?

You can make great vegan stocks and it is fun to learn how to do it, but it takes an inventive spirit.

One trick I learned from one of Heston Blumenthal's videos is slowly caramellising onion together with star anise, it can add a lot of meaty flavour.

at what point is it good enough to change to an alternative consistently? for the most part we enjoy foods that we are used to eating, if you change your habits to a non-bone based stew in a matter of time you will begin to favor those flavors instead.

Consider that killing a living thing to eat its body is not unique to "meat", nor is raising it in a controlled environment for the purpose of consumption. Fish (as is sometimes classified separately) and vegetables are living things raised and killed for consumption of their bodies as well.

I believe reconciling all of these as ethically equal (including raising the ethical weight of killing a plant as equal to an animal) is important for sanely dealing with our natural ecosystem of food. The "aliveness" of plants is continually researched and shown in a positive light, and it's hard to draw a clear and reasonable line between "life that is acceptable to eat" and "life that is not acceptable to eat".

When you look at the spectrum of life and how ethically impactful killing it for food is, it tends to follow anthropomorphism and social compatibility with humans, which doesn't seem objective enough to be pursued for widely-accepted ethics, but merely for local cultural acceptability.

Suggesting that there's enough ambiguity for it to be reasonable to assume ferns exist on the same level of consciousness or understanding of the world around them as cows is a bit of a weak argument. There's a pretty obvious difference between the two, and even if you believe plants can experience pain or distress in a meaningful way, it still makes way more sense to kill a carrot over a pig if you have the choice, making the two very clearly not morally equivalent.

The parent has specifically mentioned that they love animals, and it's pretty easily to see why: animals are much easier to relate to, can show pain easily, and are much more similar to us than plants are.

Sure, but just because we relate to them more doesn't affect the ethics of killing other things that are just as alive but are simply less relatable. This has been a strong theme in the progression of civilization.

Ending life to feed our own is how much of nature works, and we have to deal with being a part of that in our ethical thinking, regardless of how associated we are with the life we're ending.

It's simply something to think about: Most people are as flippant about ending the life of a plant, as some are about ending the life of an animal (or various different species of animal, including fish & insects).

Animals, or at least cows, pigs, and chicken, clearly show a level of consciousness that plants do not

There are no indications that plants feel pain.

> it's hard to draw a clear and reasonable line between "life that is acceptable to eat" and "life that is not acceptable to eat".

How about the line between "life that will likely suffer when prepared for us to eat" and "life that will likely not suffer when prepared for us to eat"?

Even that can be a difficult distinction. Colonies of trees, for example, have been shown to respond to damage and illness.

IIRC, trees release specific substances into their root systems in response to damage or illness in order to communicate to nearby trees. Dying trees will even give up their sugar reserves to feed younger, healthier trees.

So, while it may not be on the same level as animals, I can see an argument being made that trees respond to something resembling "pain" or "suffering".

I did a quick search and stumbled across this article[1] from the Smithsonian Magazine which corroborates some of this and expounds on it a bit. It waxes a bit... mystical, I guess? It does seem to be based on science, but the only thing it links to are books on the subject. So, you know, grain of salt. It's a place to start, though.

1: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering...

You don't have to feel guilty. It is the disconnection between humans and animals that causes many of those feelings and if you shift your thinking, you can have a much better experience. When you participate in the process of raising, killing, butchering, and eating the animals which are your food you will appreciate them – love them – and the life they had and gave for you to live. Food encased in plastic from a grocery store really prevents this connection.

Life both begins and ands and you don't have to run away from the end of things or think that making life as long as possible is necessarily better.

Unless you can argue that the cows don't mind anything about the way they're treated (including slaughter), then there's reason to feel guilty. If you can live without that (and you can, vegetarians exist), then there's reason to feel guilty about not doing so.

That idea doesn't work for me because I know for a fact that I don't really need meat to live a healthy life. My wife is vegetarian, as are my parents, and they're all healthy and happy. All my nutritional needs can be met with vegetarian alternatives.

I eat meat solely for the taste, which, when I get down to thinking about it, is a shallow and selfish reason

I disagree. Once you shift your thinking in the other direction and cherish their life and only eat them if its the only option for survival you will feel greater love and appreciation for animals. I've eaten meat only once in the last 2 years and when I did I actually wept.

> Animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends. --George Bernard Shaw


> I've eaten meat only once in the last 2 years and when I did I actually wept.

Sorry to bring this up, but I'm curious as to the circumstances around this. Did you not know you were eating meat? Or did you eat, and realize later that it was incompatible with your ethics?

I take a lot of inspiration from Native Americans on this topic. Eating is a part of existing for any organism and without life, there is no energy to transfer. This applies to plants and animals.

Appreciation for the life that was given for my nourishment is important to me and I really take it seriously. I make an effort to not waste any meat I buy and I've definitely shifted to eating less than I used to.

Yes eating is necessary for everything, but keep in mind that we humans can meet our needs solely with plants.

>is important to me and I really take it seriously

sounds like "we take security very seriously"

Do you usually kill all that you love for some fleeting pleasure, when pretty healthy alternatives are available?

Please don’t love me then

I'm not sure if I'd eat this burger, but if lab-grown meat was available and as good as the natural alternative, I think I would definitely switch.

Sadly if everyone did this it would probably mean we would only see cows, sheep etc in zoos, rather than grazing in fields.

The industrial meat/ag complex loves that you think of their products as coming from the sort of happy pasture-grazing farms you see on the side of the highway.

Most of them do. Chickens are the main exception, and I would agree that their conditions are pretty bad.

Downvoters - I live in the Midwest. I grew up on a farm. Much of my family still farms and raises livestock. Factory farming of livestock is not the norm for non-poultry.

I beg to differ - it has basically become the norm for pigs. It didn't used to be, but it has become so.

I grew up in Indiana. Now, I've not lived there in 5 years, but I did live quite some time in a place that pigs outnumbered people in the county. The county seat was 3000. Even smelling pigs was becoming a rarity while out on a country drive and a flood meant that thousands of pigs drowned in a flooded barn ("pig factory").

Perhaps you are in a place where the pigs usually roam free, but I certainly wasn't.

Hogs are not a very common livestock animal in my area, so I have no knowledge of their conditions. I do know that sows are commonly caged separately from their piglets to avoid the mother accidentally rolling over and crushing them while they nurse, but that's about it.

According to the ASPCA, over 95% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms[0]:

[0] https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare

According to Dr. Hershaft, a holocaust survivor which has dedicated his life to researching animal rights, it is estimated that less than 1% of the meat in the US are from smallscale family farms, he and his team did an AMA on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2h8df0/i_am_an_80year...

According to the ASPCA:

> A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food.

That's an _extremely_ broad definition that says nothing about the condition of the animals.

On top of this, that percentage is most likely due the sheer volume of chickens in the world. From what I remember there's something like 750 million head of cattle in the world, and like 18 billion chickens. This doesn't make up for the awful treatment of poultry, but it doesn't really extrapolate to animals like cattle and sheep.

I live in semi-rural England in Kent. In the collection of fields around my house are pigs, sheep and beef cattle. I'm lucky enough that I can buy meat from happy pasture-grazing animals.

On the flip side, I also get to interact with the animals - stroke them, feed them apples etc. It makes me happier that they have a good life, and also sadder as I can see that they're actual creatures with a life.

"Sadly if everyone did this it would probably mean we would only see cows, sheep etc in zoos, rather than grazing in fields."

Eh, not really, as cows and sheep and goats still provide valuable resources. Milk and wools, for example. I'm guessing lots of other things can be taken as they die naturally - leathers and stuff from bones and pet foods and whatnot. Sure, we could eventually engineer ourselves out of needing farm animals, but it is going to take some time.

Granted, I am excited for this meat/burger to be available to the public even if you shy away from eating it. I don't eat meats outside of fish anyway and I'm always excited to get tastier edible stuff.

I assume virtually everyone knows but I'll be pedantic anyway: if one wants to reduce the number of animals killed, the milk industry not immune. A cow's natural lifespan is 18-22 years (according to google). The average lifespan of a dairy cow is 4-6 years. A dairy cow has between 2-4 calves in that time. Only 1 is needed for replacement, meaning that for each dairy cow in the herd, you kill a calf every second year. Unfortunately it is not economically viable to slaughter dairy cows for meat (the meat is distributed in a non-efficient fashion on dairy cows). A cow produces about 8,800 litres of milk in a year (which is unbelievable to me), though only when calving. So the number of litres of milk per dead calf is about 5-7,000 (give or take -- it's the middle of the night so someone should better check my math ;-) ). It's surprisingly efficient, but not free.

If it's a male calf, it's almost always castrated and raised for meat (there's no difference in the "distribution of meat" on a dairy cow, simply that others are bred to make more), if it's a female it's normally raised to put into the milking herd. The cows that become too old to milk effectively are sold for slaughter as well, the new females are their replacements.

>> A dairy cow has between 2-4 calves in that time. Only 1 is needed for replacement, meaning that for each dairy cow in the herd, you kill a calf every second year.

I think they would just kill the boy calves, and keep the girls.

You only need one girl to replace the previous one. If you keep more than one, then your herd size increases (which you usually don't want).

Well I guess if you're at maximum capacity you wouldn't want additional female calves, but I would imagine some of those could be sold.

I have a friend who had a beef cow farm (which is slightly different, but close enough). Basically, you goal in building a herd is to strategically breed the best cows that you can. When you start, you buy some cows. Depending on what you are doing, you may or may not keep a bull yourself (you might artificially inseminate the cows, or pay for the services of a bull). Generally speaking you inbreed the cows, looking to develop specific traits that you want and occasionally breed your cows with a bull that you don't own for specific purposes (essentially improving the blood line). Once you have your initial cows, you almost never buy another one -- you just pay to breed with a higher quality bull. There are obvious exceptions, but that's the general rule.

It takes time to breed a herd of cattle. My friend had an outbreak of foot and mouth and he lost his whole herd one time. It took years and years and years to build it back up. At best you can double your herd size every year. In practice, though, some cows don't produce a calf every year. Also, there are cows that you don't want because they don't have the traits you want. But once you have the herd size you want, it is a steady state thing.

I tried to find some place to find the volume of cattle traded that's not destined for slaughter, but the data doesn't exist. It seems that dairy cows are traded mostly via want ads on the internet these days. Here's a typical site that specializes in it: https://www.dairylivestockservices.com.au/stock-for-sale/ Notice how all of the livestock is fully grown. That's because these are livestock from failed farms. I don't think anybody sells calves because there just isn't a market for it. You can't sell calves for meat either, because as I mentioned earlier, it's not economical (the price for a meat calf going to slaughter is only $125!)

It is sad to think about it, but the reality is that milk production necessarily relies on the death of cows to stay economical. If we drank a lot less milk and were willing to pay maybe 10x the price for it, then you could change that fairly easily. However, it's just not possible at anywhere near the price point we have for food right now.

there's nut milks and faux leather. nearly everything has a plant-based alternative and if something doesn't, it will have one soon.

Nut milks are nowhere near the same as animal milk. I have tried all sorts of alternate milks, and none of them come close to the flavor or texture of good whole milk from cows. So I'd say there are many things we really haven't figured out how to replicate without animals yet.

We do have faux leather. I have yet to find one that behaves like leather for footwear, however: Faux leather causes me to develop foot fungus. I can wear cloth, but by the time it gets treated as necessary, I'm not sure we are improving over the leather. But hey, it can improve.

Nut milks are an odd thing. They aren't really nutritionally the same nor do they behave similarly while cooking. The taste is lacking and I highly doubt they can make cheese. And if I remember correctly, many nuts milks are also bad for the environment - much better to just eat the nuts. I don't know if this is the same for oat milks. Soy milk is simply not edible. (I don't personally drink milk, but do cook with it).

Milk is truly one of those things that has to replace all functions for it to be a viable switch. The same goes for eggs.

All this basically to say that just because there is an alternative doesn't really mean it is viable. Cotton doesn't replace wools and neither do synthetic fabrics, for example. Not to mention that at least some synthetics are made with petroleum products. I always hope they are otherwise waste products from producing fuel (like many other plastics), but I'm not sure.

> many nuts milks are also bad for the environment - much better to just eat the nuts

I'm don't disagree with the rest of your comment, but I think the better comparison here would be to compare nut milk to what it's substituting for, which in this case is regular milk.

You should really give them a shot before entirely dismissing them out of hand. Admittedly my opinion is less informed, being a vegetarian, but I love them. My wife loves them too though, and her favorite food is steak.

See how happy they are: https://youtu.be/LQRAfJyEsko

I am not getting this. Highly processed foods are the source of all problems and people cheer up for synthetic food!

I can't speak for all, but most vegan/vegetarians I know, myself included, don't view processed meat substitutes like this as a staple. They are expensive and seen as less healthy compared to less processed plant protein.

Meals more often revolve around beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan. I think since many meat eaters are less familiar with cooking meals around these, they assume vegs are just subbing meat 1-to-1 with foods like Impossible Burger, Tofurkey, Quorn.

More often they are a food for convenience, special occasions like cookouts, specific recipes, or they happen to be the only option at a restaurant. Some I've known have used them as sort of an aid to transition to a plant based diet, if they happen to have cravings for meat.

However it's great to have more choices, and seeing brands like these in store gives more visibility to veg diets. (It's weird to me that this is the case, when the whole produce isle is vegan, but that's the way it is in a meat-by-default culture).

I agree. But I don't think this is targeted at established vegetarians though. Maybe those who want to eat less meat, or stop but don't know how?

I'd put myself in the "want to eat less meat" bucket - I'm not a vegetarian. I eat meat, enjoy it, and don't have any health problems that preclude me from consuming it. I know farming meat at scale isn't good for the environment though, and if some kind of synthetics or lab-grown meats could provide the same enjoyment I get from traditional meat with less environmental impact at roughly the same cost, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Are you really not getting this, or just making straw men? "That's a huge win for the environment (and also animal rights)". The comment seems pretty clear to me.

If it's just straw men... nothing is black and white - the same people who say boo to "synthetic foods" (which is obviously a massive scale too) are not the same people who say "meat production is bad for long-term human survival". The issues are complex and overlap in weird ways.

Because it's better for the environment and health compared to what it's replacing(95% less land and 74% less water, plusmore humane). If people eating whole plant foods start eating this, it's not good, but if meat eaters do it's a win. And it's much more likely that way more meat eaters will use this as replacement.

This sounds like clean food concepts. There isn't science behind clean/unclean.



The more processing a food stuff undergoes the more opportunity there is for it to be adulterated and/or contaminated.

Oftentimes it's not even intentional. e.g. An ingredient supplier from China delivers whey tainted with Cadmium, this gets mixed into a protein shake powder. Nowhere on the ingredients is Cadmium and the company producing protein shake powder had no intention whatever of producing Cadmium-laced shakes.

This type of thing has occurred multiple times quite publicly in pet foods. Contaminated cat food made from contaminated Chinese ingredients killed an ex coworker's cats years ago, if memory serves the contaminant was Melamine.

An effective means of protecting ourselves from these industrial errors is to avoid eating industrially manufactured foods altogether.

There was a case back in I believe it was the 80s where a red food dye was being derived from Coal tar. When the process worked flawlessly, there was no problem. But the dye was found to be carcinogenic, because the process, as one would expect, had a non-zero error rate. The public reaction to this news is what led to red M&Ms being deprecated for years, even though they supposedly didn't use the red dye in question. Which is the only reason I even know the story. I presume there are many instances of this kind of thing occurring that manage to fly under the radar.

Soylent was in the news fairly early on with contaminated China-sourced ingredients as well.

An even more recent incident has been chopped romaine lettuce as supplied to fast-food chains like Chipotle. Some supplier had contaminated heads with e.coli, the processor then spread the contamination to a much larger scale as they consolidated supplies from multiple farms, chopped it all up, then shipped it out.

By simply avoiding consumption of chopped lettuce, a minimal amount of processing, one significantly reduced the probability they would be exposed to the e.coli.

> By simply avoiding consumption of chopped lettuce, a minimal amount of processing, one significantly reduced the probability they would be exposed to the e.coli.

You seem to have an issue with globalization, not processing.

You seem to have an issue with reading comprehension, considering which sentence you specifically quoted.

What does globalization have to do with chopping lettuce on an industrial scale that disperses pathogens across massive batches?

It doesn't matter where the consolidated lettuce came from, the real problem is that it was processed.

Furthermore, in the example I'm referencing, which was thoroughly covered in the US news as the CDC got involved, we were dealing entirely with domestic suppliers from California and Arizona. But I don't see how that is relevant in the least. The problem is that the stuff was processed in aggregate.

> You seem to have an issue with reading comprehension

I don't want to have to link to the site guidelines, since I'm sure you're aware that this isn't a particularly nice thing to say :/

> What does globalization have to do with chopping lettuce on an industrial scale that disperses pathogens across massive batches?

Chopping the lettuce had nothing to do with E. Coli getting in it; the problem was that the lettuce came into contact with it after being picked. The reason why it ended up getting to a lot of people was because of improvements in transportation and preservation allowing it to be distributed further, not because it was processed.

The e.coli originated from an irrigation ditch getting contaminated by effluent from nearby livestock farms.

Processing expanded the contamination substantially increasing its reach to consumers, while also making it more difficult to narrow down which supplier had introduced the contamination.

From the consumer's perspective, by simply avoiding processed lettuce they significantly improved their chances of consuming untainted lettuce.

The devil's in the details. Because some processed food is bad doesn't mean it all it.

In this case it certainly looses from straight up beans or lentils. It will straight up win from a regular burger though.

Talking health here. Nothing to back it up, just common sense about cholesterol and different fats.

I think the above argument is based on environmental impact: processed meat vs processed veggie thing to look like mean

Both require, well, processing. I would assume the meat one requires more energy to make.

Both environmental and health were mentioned already.

Highly processed foods are problematic when they’re unhealthy, which they usually are. The impossible burger seems to be healthy, relatively speaking - it’s not loaded with fats, sugar, and salt, unlike a lot of processed food.

Saying that food is 'processed' is meaningless.

What matters is how it is processed.

People cheer while it's novel (like television, social media) but our children will hate it and feel cheated out of real nutrition by 'manufactured food'.

Or, quite possibly, since humanity's progress can't be stopped, our children will hate us once they open their eyes and realize who their favorite hot dogs and burgers were made out of and how we spoon fed them with corpses since their very first moments.

Edit: I believe that there's definitely a potential version of the future where corpse eating will be looked at the same way we look at cannibalism now.

> how we spoon fed them with corpses since their very first moments

I have not seen meat recommended as food to give newborn infants, ever. They don't even eat solid meals!

Not newborns, but people introduce squashed animal products as puree to children pretty soon, and it's not the main point I was making.

> it's not the main point I was making

The point you were making was clearly "we're feeding newborns dead 'corpses'", so I felt the need to make sure your appeal to emotion was at least somewhat factually correct.

Most of the meat they eat now comes from factory farms, you can't get much closer yo manufactured food than that.

I agree it is really positive outcome. It suffers patent risk like a number of technologies that were slowed significantly in their early life (like encryption and digital cash).

This is about the only kind of vegan proselytizing that I can stomach. If you can make food that tastes as good as meat, with nutrition similar to meat, and sell it at a lower price than meat, I will switch overnight, and never look back.

And it would be nice if it came in bulk forms, rather than just as pre-formed patties. I eat ground beef a lot more often than I eat burgers.

Until then, good luck with the test kitchen research. The results so far indicate that the developers understand the problem they need to solve.

So you are basically saying "if I had to make no effort at all and I could also save some money, I would switch". Yes, that's obvious, everyone would, it's redundant to state it.

But what those 'vegan proselytizers' are asking you for, is to not be so selfish and make a bit of a sacrifice to spare the lives of others. But of course, you 'can't stomach' to be asked to not be selfish, and they are the ones to blame.

Just a tip, of sorts: I don't wholly disagree with your argument, but you might do well to soften the tone. As written, your post comes across as accusatory.

Maybe that's your intention, but it's a really bad way to persuade people of anything.

Respectfully, I agree with the tone of the parent comment. I think there are circumstances when a little bite in a comment is appropriate. I'm not sure of wvlia5's original intent, but logfromblammo's position seemed a bit shockingly selfish to me, and a shocked/accusatory response seemed to echo my feeling as well.

My values are not yours. I do not consider animal lives worth valuing or deserving of rights. This is a fundamental disagreement, the only possible peaceful solution is agree to disagree (I hope we don't come down to the non-peaceful ones)

There are also important environmental issues that come with the production of meat and other animal products.

As a meat eater, this is the main reason why I am interested in artificial meat production. The whole "living beings" argument isn't very convincing, but that's just my opinion.

>I do not consider animal lives worth valuing or deserving of rights

So you're against animal anti-cruelty laws? Are you okay with animals like dogs and cats being torture for human entertainment?

>So you're against animal anti-cruelty laws?

"I do not consider animal lives worth valuing or deserving of rights" is not necessarily the same as "I don't want animals to have rights". It can simply be "I don't care if animals have rights".

"I do not consider animal ... deserving of rights" is pretty much as close to "I don't want animals to have rights" as you can get.

Cruelty means e.g. causing pain. We can kill animals without causing them pain.

At a broad enough definition of pain, that is very hard. Many of our farm animals have strong family ties. In order to kill them you have to sever them ties. That hurts. If you see intellegent mammals being reunited after some time apart you will know they reeeeaaly love each other, much like we humans do.

> We can kill animals without causing them pain.

We can, but it seems like we often don't.

Animal cruelty laws also police an active precursor behavior that might easily turn into human cruelty, which is a justification that really has nothing to do with the animals themselves.

That is an ancillary "benefit". The main purpose of animal cruelty laws is the obvious one: it's inhumane to hurt/torture/kill animals (depending on your jurisdiction).

> I do not consider animal lives worth valuing

For the sake of discussion, do you have a pet? Or have loved ones that have a pet?

If you were to torture that pet would you feel anything? Would your loved ones object for any reason?

Well-being of animals is distinct from slaughtering them for food. The beef I buy comes from cows that roam in fields, usually in Ireland. They're not unhappy then, as I can attest having grown up in the countryside. And the fact there are so many of them means the total lifetime happiness (of the cows at least) probably outweighs their death, if it's done humanely.

My reply was to a very specific (and obviously troubling to me) statement: "I do not consider animal lives worth valuing".

I totally get that there's a difference between the scenario you're describing and factory farms. In fact, I've posited before that those animals would never have any life if there wasn't a demand to eat them at some point.

But the statement in question reads as "I don't give a fuck what happens to any animal". My question about pets wasn't meant to be tricky, it was trying to ascertain if the statement was an absolute or a general lack of care of where his food comes from.

> But the statement in question reads as "I don't give a fuck what happens to any animal"

What exactly is wrong with that statement, though? I personally do give fucks about certain kinds of animals, but I recognize that my choices as to what animals to care about is entirely subjective and is a result of my upbringing. I have no problem with a person who draws the line at "entirely no fucks given about any animal" (though that seems kinda sad to me).

Which... is also different from caring or not caring about malicious cruelty. And I think you could make a further distinction between being a proponent of cruelty (as in "I enjoy torturing animals in my backyard") and being indifferent to it (as in "I personally think it's gross to torture animals, but don't feel it's my or the law's place to force other people not to do it").

(Before I get labeled a monster, I personally think malicious animal cruelty is likely a sign of mental illness and am fine with legislating it away. Regarding animals used as food, I think ultimately we're finding that healthy, sustainable food production often aligns pretty well with increased animal welfare, but I consider that a bonus, not a hard necessity.)

What’s wrong with the statement is that it is ‘entirely subjective,’ like your own views – it is no less arbitrary to include only humans on your list of animals deserving of empathy. Such an ethical rule cannot accommodate the proposition that some kinds of harm to animals (eg. needlessly torturing mammals) are unacceptable and some kinds of harm to humans (eg. self-defence, euthanasia, abortion) are acceptable.

You'll find about ~5% (depending on source) of people have severe difficulties feeling empathy towards fellow humans, let alone animals.

And then there's the bit about future psychopaths practicing their craft as children by torturing animals. That wasn't intended in my initial reply though.

As a thought experiment, would people be okay with humans being grown for meat, given a happy life and then slaughtered humanely?

I think that some people (though probably very few) might be okay with that, but most people probably draw the line at cannibalism even if they don't respect human life.

Really, your question just illustrates the fact that this debate is entirely subjective and based on emotion.

As a further thought experiment, we're obviously already working on growing human organs for the purpose of organ transplants. Would people be ok with growing individual human organs for the purpose of food? I expect most people would think that would be gross and be against it, but ethically it seems in the clear.

Cannibals did exist in history. I'm not sure how common they were, but presumably such societies would be okay with it. I think it is safe to say today such a society would not be allowed to exist by others.

Sign me up for the Morlock team, and let me know when the Eloi roast is done.~

The argument against this has nothing to do with Eloi thoughts and feelings, and everything to do with their ability to invade the Morlock tunnels and wipe them all out, as a matter of survival. That is, it doesn't matter if the Eloi object, if they lack the means to enforce their objections. Eloi thoughts do not carry any weight in Morlock arguments.

Besides that, feeding themselves to humans by the billions as captive domesticated prey species may be the only shot those species have at reaching other planets.

Please, describe to me this 'humane killing' process, what does it look like?

I believe it's the equivalent of being shot in the head. If it's quick and clean, it's probably about as humane as can be, save for sedating first.

So, shooting someone in the head is 'humane' then? Then, what does 'humane' even mean?

I believe you meant to reply to me. It implies a very quick exit, which is more humane that a lingering painful one.

I think some chicken processors will use controlled-atmosphere stunning — or “gas stunning” — which desensitizes the chickens to pain before slaughtering. (that last bit was copy/paste from another source).

Not the parent poster, but I think, given that this boils down to an emotional reaction, it's perfectly consistent to value the well-being of different animals in different ways.

There's no inherent quality that makes a cat or dog more or less deserving of humane treatment than a cow or pig. There's no inherent difference (aside from judgments around taste) that makes it acceptable to eat the meat of a cow but not of a dog (and, indeed, in some cultures, the opposite can be the case).

At the end of the day it's all just what we've been socialized from a young age to believe is acceptable or not, sometimes reinforced with religious beliefs.

I personally will never be swayed by vegetarian/vegan "the poor animals!"-type arguments (but fully respect people who choose not to eat meat for those reasons). Arguments around health, sustainability, and cost (in that order) are what I care about.

(For the record, I think torturing any animal out of malice is messed up and is probably an indicator of some sort of mental illness. However, other people simply being indifferent toward animal welfare is just not something I care about. Everyone has different emotional attachments to different things.)

Is a neverending, emotional and often really messed-up rabbit hole. Closing eyes when is not convenient for the discurse, and rejecting any logical reasoning or fact against.

We can see people on tv acussing other people of being torturers and organising harassment plans against them, whereas happily showing their "baby" toy-dog in their arms.

The same dogs selectively breeded to keep cute deformed craneus, jaw bones like an acordion, popping eyes, crossed teeth, deformed humerus and femurs, no tail, chronic fatigue, all sort of health problems. Dogs feeded with "vegan dog food" for years... and castrated of course. All for human entertainment. How this is not an extreme evil form of torture for them?

Maybe they should give example and kill those pets humanely as soon as possible to end their endless life of suffering?

There's another aspect don't think it's mentioned yet, that someone's emotional attachment imbues an animal with a difference that makes harming it different to harming another animal.

Similar (at a different level) to me snapping a stick, vs snapping my kids "favourite" stick that he found. Identical actions in one respect, but the human emotional impact is very different.

I'm intentionally not answering this as it hides the point I'm trying to make which is that people have fundamental disagreements on various issues and how to deal with this is an open question. That isn't to say your question isn't valid or uninteresting, just that I don't want the debate to go that direction.

I guess this depends on where we consider the line for "peaceful" to be. If the culture shifted enough where your views were in the minority, there's legislative action that can be taken criminalizing raising and harvesting of animals for food (in the US they just did this with dog and cats for example, with the latest farm bill).

Whether you agree or not, if your behavior is criminalized, the matter is settled (as a point of law at least).

To be fair, I don't know that violence against you (or others) would really convince you that these lives are valuable or not, just that you might value not being violently punished for acting on your beliefs.

> This is a fundamental disagreement, the only possible peaceful solution is agree to disagree (I hope we don't come down to the non-peaceful ones)

So here is the kicker, exactly because vegan people see these animal lives as worth valuing, they don't consider your "agree to disagree" stance as a "peaceful solution", as it implies the death and suffering of these entities.

It's one of those subjects where you can't have an "agree to disagree" or a "live and let live", or a "to each their own" type of deal, because one side is considering that a third party is involved and hurt, while the other side doesn't consider that a third party is involved at all. i.e: sentient being vs food.

Eh. We exist in a society where people who perform abortions must live with people who believe a fetus is equivalent to a full human life. People who believe unbelievers go to hell must live with people who are atheists.

The tension between vegans and non-vegans is not unique or unprecedented. The only thing that's new is veganism's recent growth spurt, which has produced a lot of new converts that mainstream society is slowly learning to tolerate, and vice versa.

Exactly. Also the scale of the "3rd party damage" is humongous in case of bio-industry. Many millions of animals per day are having the life squeezed out of m.

Abortions need supervision, paperwork, a studied persons decision. Slaughterhouse killing of often done by immigrants, unable to find any better work.

Where the embryo can potentially harm the mother, the animals we kill every day have zero possible negative impact on our lives.

So I agree there are similar cases, but all these cases are very ---very--- unique in their dynamics.

> the animals we kill every day have zero possible negative impact on our lives

We kill them because in doing so they have a positive impact on our lives.

I understand that. And that's what sets it apart from the embryo-killings. Live farm animals prove no danger, live embryos (to some extend) do pose a danger to women

Interesting, judging by the other replies, that the opponents in your debate have not agreed to disagree, despite the fact that the underlying differences are deep-rooted enough that any action on their part, especially on an internet forum, is unlikely to make a change.

> the underlying differences are deep-rooted enough

Although I'm not one of the other replies, I do think I'd actually disagree on this point. I used to feel the same way like GP (and still do, to some extent), but my view has definitely softened after learning more. After being presented with some ethical dilemma's, and seeing descriptions of how we actually treat animals, I found out I actually can be affected by the suffering of animals - just not to the same scale.

In other words: even though it might feel like a fundamental disagreement, I've experienced that there can still be room for your opinion to change to at least move somewhat in the other direction.

I didn't technically disagree, I merely asked for clarification of a statement. The only answer was a downvote.

Edit: I'm not vegan because I'm lazy and love bacon cheeseburgers, etc. Beyond Meat and their ilk are helping to address the last part and I'm excited for it.


That is why violent solutions are sometimes the only possibility. There are times my values can be different from someone else, and times that different value system cannot be allowed to exist in the world.

> Yes, that's obvious, everyone would, it's redundant to state it.

No, it's not. Do you truly think that there would be no self-proclaimed "meat purists"? Many would still enjoy real meat and would be prepared to pay a premium for it. Heck, even now, there are people who pay attention to the grade of their meat.

Yeah - you would have “all-natural” meat that would sell for a premium over the “processed, artificial” meat.

I think this is correct. There is a core group of "meat purists" who define eating beef as being American or vice versa.

I dunno, I'd probably still pay extra for the real deal.

Yes. Exactly so. If I had to make no effort at all, and I could also save some money, I would switch. But it is not obvious that everyone would. Perhaps all of your acquaintances would, but perhaps you just don't know someone of the sort who wouldn't.

Pre-framing the debate in (hostile) terms of just how selfish I am gives me the inkling that you are not looking for an honest, factual, and productive discussion, and that my participation might be seen as an invitation to browbeat me with guilt and propaganda. Instead of wasting your words on convincing me that you're so prejudiced in this matter that the outcome of any discussion we might have is already predetermined, go buy an Impossible Burger--or a thousand--and let them do all the arguing for you, because their actions speak louder than your words. They'll win over my stomach with a $2.00-off coupon, while you're still trying to recover from implicitly devaluing every sacrifice I have ever made for the sake of someone else.

Your post is an exemplar of exactly the sort of vector that I can't stomach--unnecessarily hostile and loaded with assumptions.

In my experiences, both as a meat-eater for most of my life and about a year of not eating meat, most of the reason you (or I, previously) couldn't stomach that kind of vector is because (at least in my case) it's the difference between thinking about where the meat comes from vs not. I was fully aware of what animals were, and that they died so I could have that food, but I never really tried to think about it. Basically, it seems hostile because it makes us feel challenged. That's not to say that no vegans/vegetarians are ever hostile, because they can be, just as much as anyone else can. But overall, the general idea is a challenge to your/our current worldview, and no matter how they word it, we're going to feel challenged.

I would advise against telling someone who they are or why they feel a particular way, without at least some minimal level of acquaintance.

Meat comes from the corpses of animals slaughtered on our behalf. Selfishness does not come from eating it, or from insufficiently valuing the environmental impact of it, or from getting annoyed with people that have made it a cornerstone of their personal religion.

I don't feel challenged at all by vegans, in the same sense that I am not challenged by missionaries knocking on doors or distributing flyers. When they speak, and I detect the emotional investment, I tune out, because I have learned long ago that one cannot argue with religion. I don't want a religion; you can't convert me by preaching.

So when someone tells me I am selfish, knowing little of me beyond the words in my initial post, I have exactly the same emotional reaction as with someone telling me that I will go to Hell for being atheist. It only makes sense to a believer, and I am not one. I tuned my bullshit detector with years of pointless arguments with kooks and crackpots, and no one but an expert is going to slip a rhetorical cheat past it.

If I am selfish, by definition, I wouldn't care whether other people think I am selfish. Ergo, attempting to sway someone by suggesting they might be selfish is implicitly dishonest. It would only work on someone already concerned that they might be too selfish, while not knowing of any specific reasons why that might be so. By introspection and by comparison with acquaintances, I have reached the conclusion that I am not selfish, or at least not more than one standard deviation above the median level of selfishness. I am stubborn and skeptical; sometimes it comes out looking similar. Since I know myself better than anyone else does, whenever someone comes out and says I am selfish, my bullshit detector pings, and I look for the ulterior motive.

Aha! The person making the claim has no specific interest in me or my prior claims, but is using me as a prop to preach to the more accessible listeners in the audience, and to their own choir. They are treating me exactly as I treat a piece of meat--a thing to be used to advance their own ends, rather than something of inherent value. That's hypocrisy, of a sort, and I dislike it in vegan preachers, and every other kind of preacher.

> The person making the claim has no specific interest in me or my prior claims, but is using me as a prop to preach to the more accessible listeners in the audience, and to their own choir. They are treating me exactly as I treat a piece of meat--a thing to be used to advance their own ends, rather than something of inherent value.

I doubt you'd see anyone arguing with you for any reason other than it benefitting them in some way, but it doesn't necessarily have to be because they are treating you "as a piece of meat". For example, I might ask you to reduce your meat consumption because in doing so you reduce your impact on the environment, even though you are a random stranger on the internet that I will likely never meet, because in doing so your actions indirectly have an effect on me.

And that would be fine. That's a perfectly reasonable argument to make.

I'd make the counter-argument that you are optimizing without profiling first, and the environmental benefit yielded from convincing me to live slightly greener is insignificant compared to spending the same amount of breath on petitioning and lobbying for environmental legislation, but it's your own time you're spending. But even then, I won't back your political effort unless it includes pollution standards for container ships, research money for aneutronic fusion, research money for efficiently storing and returning energy from inconstant sources such as wind and solar, negotiation rules for including environmental considerations in international trade agreements, externality taxes on proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, and a laundry list of other points that I feel would each be more effective than trying to push an omnivorous species towards more vegetarian by word or by force.

If a company meets the criteria from my original post, it's an immediate victory, without any arguments at all. The price of beef becomes anchored by the cost of its closest cheaper alternative, and that price determines the price of livestock, and that price determines the size of herds. The argument from the pocketbook is superior to the one from hot air or hot lead.

...Some people will argue, just because someone is wrong on the Internet.

Thank you for that well thought-out and reasoned response. Have an upvote!

What if the 'proselytizing' was environmental instead? Switching away from meat would lessen your footprint considerably, and likely improve your health[1] even if you don't care about the moral arguments.

1: http://time.com/4266874/vegetarian-diet-climate-change/

You can reduce your carbon footprint by orders of magnitude more by not having children, or having fewer children, but I don't see as many people advocating for voluntary sterilization (or even just abstaining from childbearing). Most people believe it's their deity-given right (and often imperative) to keep reproducing, even if our environment suffers as a result.

I point this out to suggest that at the end of the day all of this is emotional and is largely driven by how we were socialized and raised from a very young age. It's often difficult to get people to agree with rational arguments when those arguments contradict a lifetime of programming.

Having said all that, I've found that the environmental argument is the only one that gives me pause around my meat consumption.

Reducing the number of children is an aspect that rarely comes up in discussions about environmental impact (not necessarily about food), even though I find it a very compelling argument. In some countries (hint: not the US, or most of Europe), there is not even a need for much advocacy, as the concept is descriptive: fertility-rate times planetary-footprint is less than 2, so in the long run, those countries would actually be using zero resources.

By the environmental footprint argument, I could do far greater good for it by murdering the person with the largest footprint, and altering the remainder of my lifestyle not at all.

To ask those with the smallest prints to wear smaller shoes is ridiculous while some still wear a different yacht on each foot. You ask the man with the ha'penny to give a farthing, while the man on the gold throne is unmolested.

If I save the whole Earth, will I get to keep some of it, or will title to the vast majority of the habitable area remain with those who made my interventions necessary?

It's a matter of incentives. Why should I bust my ass to live green on a rented 1/8 of an acre, while my neighbor that owns the 400 sqmi ranch is buying pipes and pumps specialized to move liquefied manure by the cubic meter, and blowing cigar smoke in my face when I complain about the smell? Go annoy the asshats that can actually make a difference by changing their behavior, or save your arguments for a political campaign. My only stake in the environment is my own survival. If it down comes to that, I already know I'm expendable. I won't just lay down and die, though; I'm going to at least try to eat the rich, instead of my vegetables.

> By the environmental footprint argument, I could do far greater good for it by murdering the person with the largest footprint, and altering the remainder of my lifestyle not at all.

Sure, but you're not going to do that, so the best thing you can possibly do is alter your lifestyle and do your best to help others do the same. Pointing your finger at someone else and crying "but he's worse than I am, so why should I change?" isn't a very convincing argument for doing nothing.

> My only stake in the environment is my own survival.

Do you perhaps have children, or people that you care about that are younger than you?

We know I'm not going to go out and literally murder rich people. Not right away. I'd rather get together with a bunch of like-minded people and tax their excessive consumption. If they resist, we'd almost certainly try taking away all their favorite stuff and locking them in a people-cage before resorting to killing them.

Votes for higher tax rates on wealthier tax brackets, and for stricter environmental laws, and more enforceable penalties for breaking them, are all more effective than me, individually, setting my thermostat just one more degree towards discomfort, separating my recycling into just one more category, shortening my showers by just one more minute, and doing all that stuff we were told would make a difference.

But then one (allegedly) rich jackass screws it up for everybody, unilaterally withdrawing from international environmental agreements, and putting a fox in charge of the EPA's henhouse. It can make someone question their commitment. Why should I voluntarily endure all this eco-sterity, when I can reduce my environmental footprint to zero and still live to see the melting methane clathrates roiling arctic seas, because we were all apparently targeting the wrong people?

The people who collectively claim to own most of the planet are the ones who are destroying it. They can do as they please with their other possessions, can't they? I lost whatever direct stake I had in this planet in the wake of the 2007 mortgage crisis. I used to own land. Or I thought I did. Now I have to rent the ground on which I sleep. So if the planet is dying, I don't really have to worry about my piece of it dying. If my home is demolished by floods and tornadoes, that's more the landlord's problem: I move on to the next place. I'm just in a race with all the other doomed souls, to work hard enough to make enough money to win the bidding war to rent the last habitable place on Earth. In doing that, I may have to discard any pretense of environmental responsibility, and think solely of my own small tribe, because clearly, the cartel in place to ensure cooperation for the greater good of all civilization is not effectively checking the renegades who are choosing personal benefit over collective benefit, at a world-altering scale.

So instead of tsking at the person who threw brown glass into the clear glass bin, get violently pissed at the person who is secretively trucking those bins to the landfill, because glass recycling isn't profitable this month. Instead of frowning at the person eating a real meat hamburger, go ape on the person whose animal waste lagoon breached a levee and washed into the local watershed. I'm not going to do one more damned thing to my own lifestyle for the sake of environmentalism, as long as I think that nothing that I have already done, and nothing I am currently doing, really matters.

If becoming an eco-terrorist is the only plausible way to avoid Venus 2: Methane Boogaloo, then yeah, I think I could maybe make a difference that way. There are definitely better paths to pursue, collectively, but I think maybe the folks telling me, "Hey, you! Stop eating meat. Thanks!" while trading Bitcoin and designing the next Juicero-like company (but better this time), are not fully understanding the problems at hand, and will not be effective allies.

If we combine your comment with the one about not having children... do we end up with A Modest Proposal?

This is really the most compelling argument to me and has me reducing (specifcally red) meat consumption.

Thirded, even as someone who has no intent of going full vegetarian anytime soon, in the past year I've significantly reduced the amount of meat, particularly red, that I eat on a regular basis. I'm just fine with reserving my meat meals for special occasions.

IRT meat substitutes coming in bulk forms as opposed to pre-formed patties, I've had "Beyond Meat" before which comes as a ground beef substitute as well as patties. The prices for Beyond Meat weren't much higher than the leanest ground beef at the grocery store.


It is currently selling at around $30 /kg for Patties. Retails for Ground Beef goes around $10 / Kg.

I would certainly not call that cheap or even affordable.

Ah, last time I saw it in the store I just saw a package of patties for ~$5.50. I had assumed it was about the same quantity of food as the packages it was next to, but I guess they come in 2-packs compared to the other patties next to them being 4-packs. I've mostly had it prepared in restaurants, with its price comparable to getting the steak option.

> This is about the only kind of vegan proselytizing that I can stomach. If you can make food that tastes as good as meat, with nutrition similar to meat, and sell it at a lower price than meat, I will switch overnight, and never look back.

I'm wanting to try it out someday, and am willing to pay the price for a "restaurant burger" made using the product - but the cost is too great currently for the home market. If they can reduce this, while making the product better, then I'm all for it.

That said - before I would be willing to switch fully, they'd have to be able to replicate a few kinds of cuts that are currently - well - impossible:

1. Well marbled aged rib-eye - steak and roast form, bone in

2. Pork shoulder

3. Full-size beef brisket, fat cap and all, plus tip

One day, perhaps...

This. I want my tacos and burgers to taste like tacos and burgers. I don't care whether it's "real" beef or not. If someone's selling 80/20 that's blended with some plant product (or even just 100% plant product) and it's substantially cheaper than 80/20 and tastes about the same then that's what I'm gonna buy.

So far no option like that exists on the shelf. All the fake meat options cater to the people who shop at whole foods and I'll take value priced 80/20 over that any day.

Most of the meat you get from the ‘easy’ places like supermarkets tastes terrible anyway, compared to quality meat from a specialist store. I’ve long ago stopped eating chicken almost completely because of this, in the end you just taste whatever you serve with the chicken, and you get a certain bite from it that is easily imitated using ‘fake meat’.

I’m pretty sure I will never be a strict vegetarian, but I honestly don’t see the point of eating cheap mass-produced meat over some more environmental- and/or animal-friendly produced alternative anymore. Quality over quantity please. I cannot understand how so many people disagree, especially those who claim to love meat.

People have different priorities. Some people insist on eating high end food or driving high end cars or drinking high end wine or all/some/none of those.

I eat cheap mass produced meat because it's often an ingredient in the things I put on the menu (hamburgers about once a week and tacos about once a month). I buy the store brand. If someone wants to make a more environmentally friendly semi-meat or non-meat product that is a drop in replacement for meat in my use case and is superior in any other way (shelf life, price, health, taste, etc) and equal in the rest then I will use it. At present nobody has done that for beef.

> I cannot understand how so many people disagree, especially those who claim to love meat.

Well for starters, a lot of them probably can't afford higher quality meat. Quality over quantity doesn't work if the quantity goes down too far.

I did see an impossible meatloaf in a grocery store, and it looks like their website is showing ground beef. So it looks like they are slowly branching out into other products.

Impossible is not currently available directly to consumers. They do not make a meatloaf - it is possible the grocery store bought the raw product and is selling their own meatloaf.

That, or they saw the "Beyond Burger" being used in a similar manner.

Beyond seems to be moving into that space, and Impossible is giving them the moment. Whether (or if) Impossible can recapture that market segment remains to be seen.

> it is possible the grocery store bought the raw product and is selling their own meatloaf.

Possible but seems pretty unlikely. Also, I don't think they'd be allowed to use Impossible's trademark in that case.

I feel like the GP must be misremembering.

https://www.facebook.com/molliestonesmarkets/photos/a.764954... I've also heard that Impossible sells the burger meat to restaurants unshaped, so my guess is that they are just using that to make meatloaf.

Edit: the meatloaf was served by the deli premade, it wasn't sold individually packaged.

Until the people currently destroying forests to grow cattle, start destroying forests to grow ingredients for these burgers. Soil depletion is also a thing. I still remember the argument for biofuel and where it ended up.

More options in the mix is always good, but trying to replace everything with vegetable stuff is not going to work in the long run.

Plant-based foods are almost always significantly more efficient to produce than meat since you no longer need to grow all of the food to feed an animal for its entire life.

From another article ( https://www.cnet.com/news/impossible-burger-2-0-tastes-like-... ):

> But Impossible Foods can produce a burger using a fourth of the water and less than 4 percent of the land -- and emit one-tenth of the greenhouse gases -- than a conventional burger, Brown said.

So yeah, we might still destroy forests to make veggie burgers, but it'll be 1/25th of the forest destruction (if you believe the numbers).

The rolling hills of Wales and northern England are never going to be great for crops, but they are perfect grassland for feeding cattle and lamb.

The grass hills are beautiful, it would be a great shame to see them converted to crops. I would argue they won’t be, and therefore the cattle raised on them is effecient.

Decreasing meat consumption would dramatically decrease the amount of land amount used for crop agriculture, not increase it. 85% of the UK's landmass is grazing land and crops grown specifically as animal feed[1].

In 2010, the British livestock industry needed an area the size of Yorkshire just to produce the soy used in feed. But if global demand for meat grows as expected, the report says, soy production would need to increase by nearly 80% by 2050. [2]

From a completely theoretical standpoint, if humans were to stop consuming meat we would actually need to close 1000's of crop farms, not open them on rolling hills, even when accounting for our dietary increase in plants. I'd therefore argue that it's a shame the land has to be used for agriculture at all. Better would be to maintain them as national parks and the like.


[2] (PDF WARNING) https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2017-10/WWF_Appet...

More national parks! As a recreational hiker and walker that would be a dream. I'd go vegetarian myself if it guaranteed even 50% more parkland.

The problem as I understand it is that while cattle are often raised in such places - grazing on open grass plains which could not support other crops - they are usually transferred to feedlots later in their life, where a significant portion of the nutrients used to support them come from corn, soy, etc, which do come from croplands.

So in our current system it does appear that cattle, even if they occupy some grassland space which could not be more efficiently used, do inevitably use resources which could be more efficiently used to feed humans directly.

But of course humans have been changing that landscape for millennia to graze livestock on it - it was much more forested before we arrived, and could be again.

The demand for, and thus price of, feed crops will decrease if we largely switch from real meats to plant-based substitutes, so there will be less economic incentive to grow crops on those rolling hills, not more. They could still be used to raise livestock (we're probably not going to eliminate 100% of meat and animal products from the market), or just returned to nature.

If we got to a place where most of the cow & lamb feed comes from open range grazing we'd be in a fabulous place.

It's much the same in the Alberta plains. You'd have to dramatically alter the ecosystem to grow a variety of crops there.

It's easy to win the argument that plant-based foods are more efficient to mass-produce than CAFO meat, but you might need to be careful generalizing; pigs and chickens fed forage and scrap are supposedly pretty efficient as well.

(I have no idea if there's an efficient way to scale beef).

> I have no idea if there's an efficient way to scale beef

If you're interested, https://twitter.com/drsplace is a good follow. She writes and cites a lot on this topic (because she is employed by the beef industry).

Efficiency and scalability are not the same thing. Does forage not have high land requirement? If there were a massive demand for scrap, would it be met by something other than scrap farming?

No, the point of forage is that it does not spend arable land generating crops for livestock. That's the meaning of the term.

We're so far from that being even close to a problem that I feel it's a bit disingenuous to see it repeated so often when vegetarianism comes up. There's a whole lot of meat we can cut out of our diets without any of that becoming a problem.

(And of course, if the soy that is currently fed to cattle is fed to humans directly, we can feed quite a few more humans from that than that cattle currently can, without needing to use more resources. That's not to say it does not come with its own problems, but they're unlikely to be as severe as the ones we get with meat anytime soon.)

The cattle need to be fed too, and they don't turn their food into meat very efficiently. That's why replacing meat with plant based alternatives is (almost) always a huge gain in efficiency, in terms of resource use.

Instead of these abstract hypotheticals about efficiency, we can just look at the price.

>At Hopdaddy in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Impossible Burger (using the original recipe) goes for $12.25. A classic burger made of Angus beef with the same basic toppings costs just $7.25.

Price has nothing to do with efficiency.

You have a strange notion of efficiency if you think something that takes more resources to produce is also more efficient...

I believe this is an urban legend? Anyway, most crops don't convert to protein any better than cattle.

Crops are also not perfectly efficient, but it's simply replacing two chained instances of inefficiencies with one.

Instead of

Crops -> Animal feed -> Cattle -> Meat -> Eat

you have

Crops -> some processing -> Eat

Then there's the 92% of grazing land that doesn't grow crops. That's a clear win for cattle.

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization [1] "just less than half the world's usable surface is covered by grazing systems" and "Grazing systems supply about 9 percent of the world's production of beef and about 30 percent of the world's production of sheep and goat meat."

Doesn't seem like such a clear win for cattle. They do note that "For an estimated 100 million people in arid areas, and probably a similar number in other zones, grazing livestock is the only possible source of livelihood.", so not everyone might be able to afford a vegetarian diet, but 91% of beef seems replaceable.

[1] http://www.fao.org/docrep/X5303E/x5303e05.htm#chapter%202:%2...

No it's not. Only a tiny fraction of cattle are solely pastured. Each beef cow, even if pastured for the first year (which is typical) requires literally tons of high-calorie corn and or soy feed to bring it up to slaughter weight. Guess where that feed is grown.

Besides, the range land you're talking about isn't needed for crops anyway. We have more than enough arable land to grow crops for direct human consumption.

Beef is fattened on feedlots before slaughter, the exception is gourmet beef, which I doubt many people eat regularly.


Are you talking about all the land that used to be rainforest?

Here is a really great article that covers a lot of ground in terms of what food is most efficient for protein both in terms of land & CO2.


EDIT: sorry here is the better link:


I don't know where you're getting your information, but it's not correct.

I've been under the impression that plant-based proteins take up less land than does animal-derived protein[0][1][2]. I could go on with the citations. So yes, replacing everything with plant-based protein would be vastly better.

Edit: Vastly better than Beef*




Generally, most of that forest destruction is to grow soy beans for animal feed. Feeding the soy beans directly to humans is far more efficient, so, if more people adopt TVP instead of meat, you'd expect a drop in land requirements.

You go ahead and spend your money on that stuff. But in a free market, soy-based protein is going to be a hard sell.

According to TFA, the Impossible Burger 2.0 has reached parity with meat-based burgers. It seems unlikely that they'll just stop innovating, so they might eventually produce a soy-based burger that tastes better than meat at the same price. If that happens, it's game over for meat.

It'll still be a burger - or ground burger product.

What if I want a well-marbled aged beef ribeye?

Or if I want to smoke a pork shoulder or brisket?

Those kinds of products are going to take some time before they become manufactured from plant-based sources (or before they are "grown" - indeed, the first versions of that nature are likely to be too lean, which will be a real problem, especially for taste and texture).

We have them in local joints - at a 50% premium. Not gonna take over at that price.

"but trying to replace everything with vegetable stuff is not going to work in the long run."

But we have to eat... what do you recommend we replace our protein intake with?

I suggest other plant protein sources, like soy or pea. Wheat, in particular, has a terrible amino acid profile for humans [0].

Aside from making it so that anyone with coeliac can't consume their burgers, it's just not as effective for humans as animal protein. Pea and soy, however, are nearly as effective and much better for the earth/environment.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3887888

The incomplete protein thing is a myth [1]. The amino acid profile of single ingredients is almost never a concern in practice, because meals nearly always contain complimentary proteins. It's actually really difficult to avoid complimentary proteins if you have anything like normal dietary habits. Furthermore, it's not even necessary for every meal to provide all essential amino acids, as long as your diet isn't chronically deficient in any of them over time.

Wheat protein is easy to complete. This is acknowledged at the link you gave:

> when combined with other food proteins such as legumes, oil seeds or animal products the proteins of wheat exhibit excellent nutritional complementarity.

Lysine is the limiting amino acid in wheat protein. Lysine is easy to find in other places, and wheat protein can be made fully complete using half as much pea protein, for example. A single 20 g portion of wheat protein similar in size to one impossible burger contains over a quarter of the RDA of lysine [2]. Nearly any other protein you consume in a day will easily provide the rest, even with sensible vegan diets.

1 - https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-myth-of-complementary-pr...

2 - https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Wheat_flour%2C_whole-grain_nu...

It depends on your protein needs and goals. Survival is different from optimal performance.

Not sure what you mean by "optimal performance". Your body needs a finite daily amount of each essential amino acid for tissue growth and repair. If you're an athlete you might need more at times, and some health problems can cause usage of particular aminos to spike, but the requirement is always finite. Consuming more than those amounts has no proven benefit (unless that protein is meant to displace calories from carbs or fat, which is a completely different topic).

Optimal daily intake of all essential amino acids is easy to achieve with any sensible dietary habit, even for very active adults. If you're consuming adequate protein each day, given your activity level and health, then the amino profile of your protein intake is completely irrelevant unless your diet is really goofy.

I'd encourage you to read that Forks over Knives article.

I’ve seen a lot of results regarding net protein synthesis with respect to amino acid profiles, and in general, higher concentrations of specific amino acids were tied to greater synthesis. (Especially Leucine through mTOR.) Is this misleading somehow?

Yeah, leucine is a bit of a hot topic among the intermittent fasting crowd because of its apparent ability to arrest fasting-induced autophagy. Some amount is clearly critical for anabolic signaling, but the evidence I've seen indicates that extra dietary leucine (in excess of typical consumption) has no effect on actual muscle synthesis [1].

There is compelling evidence supporting supplementation of some conditionally essential amino acids such as carnosine (perhaps vis-a-vis beta-alanine) and glutamine. There's also increasing interest in restriction of specific amino acids, namely methionine, for anti-aging and cancer treatment.

But all this talk of supplementation and restriction, outside of what occurs naturally in foods, stands in opposition to the dietary notion of protein completeness. My hope is that it will eventually lead to more appropriate and flexible measures of dietary protein quality.

1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20844186

Even with all that being said, it would still make sense to make sure a burger is a source of complete protein - you know, just like the original article. Closer to optimal food, fewer worries, greater value, etc. etc.

So, is the IB 2.0 a source of complete protein or not? I'm asking this from a pure "what's the spec sheet here" point of view.

The problem is that your usage of the phrase "complete protein" doesn't really make sense here. Three impossible burgers do in fact provide complete protein for a whole day, meaning they provide the RDA of all essential amino acids for an average adult.

And that would be true even if the burger consisted only of wheat protein. The listed ingredients include protein from wheat, soy, and potato, so it's quite possible that the amino profile is close to optimal. But again, that doesn't really mean anything in practice, unless you want to try to survive on just a couple of impossible burgers per day.

In other words, scrutinizing amino acid profiles has almost no benefit in a practical diet. Even if you're a vegan, if you eat a sensible amount and variety of protein during the day (grains, beans, nuts, etc) then your daily amino intake will be readily completed.

> that doesn't really mean anything in practice, unless you want to try to survive on just a couple of impossible burgers per day

You're not wrong, but I think you're taking a very narrow view here. There are situations when having a good source of complete protein is important. E.g. you're working out and you need to increase the muscular mass. In that case, you better make sure your main source of protein is indeed complete.

The real world is annoyingly diverse sometimes.

No, you really don't. I know the completeness thing is ingrained in nutrition lore and seems to make good sense, but it almost never actually matters.

Try this as an exercise: Suppose you're a 100kg power lifter targeting 1.5 g per kg body weight protein intake (which is at the lowish end of common protein recommendations for athletes, resulting in 150g protein per day in this case). Suppose you don't want to eat anything but beans. Only beans, breakfast lunch and dinner. You make sure you get your 150g of protein per day from beans, which is a lot of beans, but well worth it because you love beans.

By your criteria, your main protein source is horribly incomplete, and I would agree. But now tell me, will you actually end up deficient in any essential amino acids? The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, probably not. Lets briefly look at the numbers:

The limiting EAA in most pulses is methionine. Sometimes tyrosine is low as well, but let's stick with methionine. That means that the only EAA deficiency possible with your bean-only diet is methionine. To get 150g protein you'll need around 600-800g of beans, depending on the type of bean, which yields between roughly 1.2 and 1.8g of methionine, again depending on the type of bean (I'm using USDA data for lentils and pinto beans for this example).

So the question is, is 1.2-1.8 g/day of methionine enough? As far we know, yes, that amount of methionine is at or at least near the amount that your body can use in a day. I've never seen evidence that any amount over that range is of any benefit, any excess over utilization being either oxidized for its caloric value, or excreted. There is evidence that some athletes need more than 1.5 g/kg/day of protein, but this is based on increased oxidation of all dietary amino acids, rather than higher utilization of specific EAAs [1]. So if you need more protein, you can just eat more beans.

In other words, your 600-800g bean-only diet probably gives you complete protein each day. But even if it didn't -- if you somehow turned out methionine-deficient -- then you could easily "complete" your daily protein intake by eating another serving of beans. Or an egg.

Now suppose you're not an athlete, but just a schmuck like me, eating a more typical 0.8 g/kg of protein. Now you're eating only 80g of protein, and thus only around 0.6 to 1.0 g of methionine per day. Now you might end up methionine-deficient, but even here the evidence is thin, and all you'd have to do to correct it is eat an egg or two. Or more beans. (Interestingly, there is great interest in methionine restriction as an anti-aging and anti-cancer strategy, so methionine deficiency is decidedly a rare and speculative condition).

Does this make sense? Do you see how easy it is to consume complete protein each day? This is a specific example, but the arithmetic works out for grain-heavy diets just the same. All you need to do is make sure you're getting the daily amount of protein recommended for your athletic activity level. As long as you do that, you're highly unlikely to be deficient in any EAAs, even on a whack diet. You can live your whole life unaware of protein completeness or amino acid profiles, and your body will never know the difference.

1 - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nbu.12215, Protein intake for athletes and active adults: Current concepts and controversies

Dear lord, this is typical HN stuff. Highly analytical, focused on a very narrow point of view, and completely useless in practice.

The world outside the pixel matrix is a very different thing.

Hmmm... well I'm out of ammo :)

If you're ever interested in learning more, I'd say just try running some numbers yourself. Pick a diet with some "incomplete proteins", and then figure out what specific EAA deficiencies might result. Try to use at least a semi-realistic diet. See if you can do it.

The Impossible Burger is designed to use environmentally friendly ingredients that can scale. I don't understand what your issue is.

I’m suggesting they simply use different plant protein to do so.

Would you consider wheat protein to be the only kind that can scale? If so, why?

Beyond Meat, another meat-substitute company, uses soy and pea protein:


Quinoa is also an excellent source for a full amino acid complex. It has substantially higher Lysine content then that found in other grains.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1546052

The question you're replying to isn't the one being asked. Also, per the article, the current iteration of the Impossible Burger is no longer wheat-based.

Unless the Impossible Burger is exceptionally inefficient to produce, that's still a huge win. An acre of land can produce about twenty times as much edible protein from soy as from beef.

> trying to replace everything with vegetable stuff is not going to work in the long run.

I'm not sure what you think the alternative is. People need to eat.

Maybe cattle farming (plus fertilizer and methane recovery) in near-Earth orbit O'Neill Cylinders will be the answer?

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