Fake meat is having a huge moment right now. With massive financial gains, brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are creating an entirely new — and thriving — market.
But not everybody is on board with veggie burgers that aren't entirely "veggie," as Vox reports, with critics arguing that fake meat is unhealthy and goes against the idea of consuming "whole," GMO-free foods.
CEOs of major corporations including Whole Foods and Chipotle have dismissed the plant-based meats as far too processed — a valid criticism considering how companies produce the meatless products flooding the markets right now.
“I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy," Whole Foods CEO John Mackey told CNBC in August. "I think people thrive on eating whole foods. As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big of criticism that I will do in public.”
It's arguably too early to tell if Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods' products do negatively affect our health. Some argue they're healthier because they let consumers avoid the cancer risks associated with red meat and provide a comparable substitute for people sensitive to the growth hormones and antibiotics fed to cattle.
So, the big question remains: do the pros of fake meat outweigh the cons?
There is a second criticism, backed up by many years of scientific research, that could sway your answer: factory farming is terrible for the environment. Substituting animal-based products with more sustainable ingredients, such as fake meat, could mean we use far fewer natural resources and emit much less CO2, according to experts.
Though growing rapidly, the fake meat industry is still far from mainstream — it represents less than one percent of the U.S. meat industry — and if it ever hopes to capture the market, it will have to address these health concerns, substantiated and unsubstantiated.
READ MORE: Meatless meat is becoming mainstream — and it’s sparking a backlash [Vox]
More on fake meat: KFC Sold All of Its Meatless “Chicken” in Five Hours