As a vegetarian, I laud the environmental advantages of replacing chicken and steer meat.
Vegetarian Fast Food For the Masses
A small part of me dies inside whenever I hear of a fast-food chain offering plant-based meat. The junk food that overtook the world, ushering in obesity, is now reaching the waists of vegetarians and vegans.
It is not enough to ruin the health of indiscriminate eaters. Now, those who are arguably the more health-conscious are lowering their guard for a sodium-rich, sugar-infused meatless patty with processed cheese, french fries, and soda pop.
Restaurants with plant-based versions food favorites
- A&W Canada
- Burger King
- Carl’s Jr.
- Del Taco
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Little Caesars
- McDonald’s (Germany)
- Red Robin
- Shake Shack
- TGI Fridays
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Unami Burger
- White Castle
Even Mendocino Farms—a health-conscious sandwich chain—is dabbling with a seasonal Impossible Burger. It is not that it is unhealthy; it just tastes odd—like biting into spaghetti and marinara (with its tomato-based vegan cheese). Noticing my befuddlement, the manager kindly exchanged it for a tempeh sandwich.
Don’t get me wrong. As a vegetarian, I laud the environmental advantages of replacing chicken and steer meat. Higher-end restaurants that respect the ingredients can elevate the flavor.
I might even convince myself to believe that the accessibility of ubiquitous vegetarian options has a few benefits. To a busines taking on debt or investors, a contract with a nationwide customer is applauded. But convenience has its disadvantages.
Contribution to Obesity
Fast food restaurants incorporate their individual flavor within meat and buns. Usually, this means combo meals are loaded with simple carbohydrates, having little to no fiber. White bread from ultra-refined flour with extra sauces, fries or chips, and sugary beverages often add up to meal deals exceeding recommended daily allowances. Sodium, sugar, and calories are off the charts. The close proximity and relatively low cost of junk food attracts more customers and discourages home-cooked meals, contributing to obesity.
In his exposé on the illusion of choice in fast food restaurants, Chase Purdy concludes: “When the customer isn’t able to make a good choice, fast food restaurants have stepped into help make that choice for them. The choice often isn’t between healthy and unhealthy: It’s between small amounts of unhealthy foods and large amounts of unhealthy food.”
Choose between small amounts of unhealthy foods and large amounts of unhealthy food.
Vegetarianism is not an impenetrable shield against obesity. During my first seven years as a pescatarian, I gained 70 pounds (31.75 kg). Over another 10 years I gained another 30 pounds. I should state that I was severely underweight when I began. Hence, most of the weight was welcomed. However, 30 of those pounds pushed me beyond the overweight BMI category. Fortunately, I have am now a vegetarian who recently lost over 20 pounds.
Obesity is linked to several long-term health conditions, premature death, and illness. There are links to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, fatty liver, arthritis and joint disorders, and some cancers. A healthy diet can prevent weight gain and chronic disease.
Protein is a an important nutritional supplement that also contributes to satiation. But long-time vegetarians are not usually seeking a meat-tasting entree. Meat replications are really lowering the barrier for carnivores and omnivores to help preserve the environment with plant-based options.
Let’s just hope that the advancement does not worsen the obesity epidemic. After all, 95 percent of Impossible Foods customers are meat eaters trying something A Bit More Healthy.
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