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Veganism for the Masses

The elites get the fatted calf, you get the engineered vegetable patty.

The creators of the Impossible Burger just came out with another machine-made meat alternative, the Impossible Nuggets. Produced from a combination of every expeller-pressed seed oil in the books and “natural flavor,” the catchall that leaves a disturbing amount of the faux meat’s actual makeup to your imagination, this vegan protein is, supposedly, better than the real thing. Hence the name.

A review in the San Francisco Chronicle says the engineered nuggets are slightly better than McDonald’s, which, as she points out, is not saying much. The burgers have been lauded as the most meat-like meat alternative, which is also not high praise, in a market saturated with bad options. That doesn’t seem to make a difference for Impossible Foods and its biggest investor, Bill Gates, however, who made headlines earlier this year for calling on rich nations to switch entirely to synthetic beef. He hardly needed to demand it: a flood of burger joints, from midlevel Wahlburgers and Red Robin all the way down to Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, White Castle, and even Starbucks had already added the Impossible patty to their menus the moment they hit the market. The fact that there is significantly less demand for these products than for real meat, as McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski attests, did not seem to matter. (For its own part, McDonald’s added the “McPlant,” which features a Beyond Meat patty, a slightly older vegetable offering.)

Slights about the flavor of the vegan burger and nugget alternatives aside, however, there’s something painfully ironic about the class of people responsible for the majority of the climate problems forcing you to eat fake meat to save the environment. Never mind the fact that individual consumers have never had more than a negligible impact on the climate, or the fact that said green burger likely generates a comparable amount of its own pollution as a by-product of its labyrinthine production. These arguments don’t matter to the elites who are the problem, because they’re going to make sure you own your role as the solution.

Yet no matter how you slice it, real meat is still significantly better for the human body than lab-grown alternatives. By the length of the ingredient list alone, there’s no comparison. The Impossible products rely heavily on vegetable oils, too, which have increasingly been linked to deleterious health conditions, such as cancer. Meanwhile, grass-fed beef is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3s, and only contains one ingredient: beef. Even if we were to view it as a charitable new solution to poverty, assuming such meat will be cheaper to purchase than animal products in the long run (a reasonable stipulation), we should ask then if the side effects of such creations on human health are worth the benefits. Once again, man’s attempts to outperform creation are laughably worse, at best. At worst, well, they’re Impossible.

Gates and the Impossible burger backers’ incentive, of course, has little to do with actual health or conservation, however, as anyone who has read his Old Testament has probably already begun to surmise. Kings eat fatted calves; the masses get vegetables. Capitalism, it seems, has changed the equation only slightly: If you can convince the common man that vegetables are meat, your only competition for that scarce resource is the rest of the 1 percent.

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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