There is not much that I miss about my carnivorous lifestyle. My tastes have changed, but what cravings have lingered are mostly accounted for. My wife Megan surprised me with vegan chocolate cake for my birthday and I almost couldn’t believe it was vegan. I can get a vegan pizza down the street when I get the craving. The Thai restaurant around the corner has a green-curry-mock-duck that we pick up on the nights we don’t feel like cooking. And then Mexican food – my all-time favorite – is pretty much the easiest vegan dish whether at home or out to eat – think chips & guac, tortillas, salsa, beans & rice. Even Chipotle has a tofu replacement for their burritos and bowls. At home, tempeh tacos, lentil pasta, pancakes, the occasional Vice cream and tofu scrambles are on a constant delicious rotation.
Every craving accounted for – except that one lingering taste for a burger and fries (you may not have it now, but please, read on). Until this weekend, I thought I had tried it all. Some burger joints here in Houston will make you any burger on the menu with their vegan patty. Then you’ve got the handmade mushroom burger, falafel and even hempseed. You can find these at various restaurants and I’ve tried them all. Unfortunately, ‘mush’ often comes to mind when I recall these experiences, and I’m sure it’s the same for you. Look a little deeper and you may uncover the Beyond Meat burger. A very honorable attempt at a replacement. They make a Regular and a Beast, and I will say that above all others mentioned, and besides the high fat content, these were the best replacements I had found. ‘Were’ being the key word there.
Until this past weekend (not a paid advertisement)….
Megan and I extended our weekend in Chicago by 4 hours on Monday just to walk the city a bit and see some sights. My only task was to find us somewhere to eat mid-morning and all that I could find was a café nearby that listed an Avocado Toast on their online menu. ‘This will have to do’ I thought, and we headed on over. Picking up the menu, however, we quickly noticed a change from the online version – there was no Avocado Toast, but a Vegan Sammy and a Vegetarian Impossible Burger had replaced it. I knew I had heard of the Impossible Burger, but only seen snippets online and hadn’t read any reviews. The man behind the counter said that he was a meat eater and he couldn’t tell the difference – he orders it all the time - “what?!” – I thought, and inquired as to why it was listed as vegetarian. I was then happily informed that this was only because of the cheese and sauce, but I could order it ‘vegan’. And so, Megan and I both ordered one and I have to say, that as of January 4th, my longing for a burger replacement has ended. I won’t get into the details of the chew, but this burger has my endorsement. It is funny to say, but simple things like this gives me hope that a sustainable future for our world is possible.
Those are some big words just for a burger, I know. However, judging by the fact that methane (from animals) is 28% more potent that CO2 when it comes to global warming potential, curbing this output is high on the list for saving our world. Livestock account for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so the rise of plant-based milks, meat & leather alternatives are a compliment to the increase in renewable energy. We are seeing this socially conscious and sustainable attitude on the rise around the world. On top of this, animal agriculture is the leading cause of wildlife habitat destruction. Lions, tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses and so many other beautiful creatures are losing their homes and their lives to make room for pasture land. On a welfare point of view – and I won’t get into the gory details – animals are treated horrifically in agriculture the world over.
136 million acres of rainforest have been cleared for animal agriculture, and hence, animal agriculture is currently the leading cause of species extinction. A well-hidden fact is that we are in the middle of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. Billions (that’s right billions) of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades. The last mass extinction was 65 million years ago, and if you know your basic history, this did not fare well for those on Earth at that time. The reality is that we, as the human race, must do something to turn this around.
The positive in all of this is that forward-thinking companies, as well as conscious consumers, are driving innovation that curb this demise. Companies like Accel Lifestyle are designing clothing that never smells, providing longer lasting clothing that results in a savings against the billions of tons of apparel that are thrown away annually. Energy companies like Total and Statoil are selling off their stakes in Oil & Gas to move towards renewable energies. The growth of animal agriculture is at least being slowed by innovations that relate to the everyday carnivore.
In the end, it is the consumer that drives the market.
We, as individuals, have the power to buy and what we buy signals the market and industry. Therefore, if the majority of people want burgers, fries, pizza and milkshakes, then as vegans, we must embrace the companies that provide that same want (and taste) without the detriment to the globe. In the end, we may all move to a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle, but society has to make that connection in order to transition to this lifestyle. We cannot be a community of ‘judging vegans’. As eyes open, people will see, but we must give them a reason to make the change. People will only be open to this change if they feel comfortable with the benefits to not only the world, but their health.
I’ve gotten a bit carried away from stumbling upon a great burger, but isn’t it the little things that stay with you? If we can create a burger made from plants, saving countless animals, as well as making a step forward for our planet, why wouldn’t we? This is the type of change that we need in the world, and it is a great time to be a vegan.
I hope you have enjoyed this story. Feel free to reach out about anything I’ve said. I love conversation!
Have a wonderful day…