Dog food or fake meat? Most can't tell the difference

The debate surrounding what should be considered meat — and what isn’t — continues to spark conversation across the food industry.

What are plant-based burgers, such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, actually made of?

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor at the University of California-Davis, was a guest on AgriTalk last week where he shared about his recent discussion comparing the ingredients of plant-based meat alternatives to high-end dog food.

“When you look at Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat, they have 21 or 22 highly processed ingredients. So processed, that you are hard pressed in identifying the difference between those items, versus let’s say, pet food.”

Mitloehner explained to AgriTalk host Chip Flory that this is something that many consumers aren’t aware of, and when given the opportunity, aren’t able to distinguish the difference between the burgers and dog food. Mitloehner took to Twitter to further this point.

“Within 24 hours, I had 100,000 people trying to answer that trivia question as to which one of the three is the dog food. The vast majority of the people had it wrong. I find that very interesting,” he says.

“I didn’t mean to be facetious with that. I just wanted to point out, what nature of the food really is that they are producing. And how indistinguishable it is from dog food.”

Mitloehner said the Twitter poll and further research was sparked from a conversation a few years back, with Patrick Brown, founder of Impossible Foods, at the National Academy of Sciences event. At the event, Brown confessed to eating dog food, while calling the ingredients ‘wholesome.’

“I thought he was joking, until I did a little research and compared his burger versus Beyond Burger versus dog food. And guess what? I would not be able to tell the difference,” he notes. “Which is just testament to me that they are actually making something that from a nutritional basis might not be very different from dog food. Then adding the flavours, and the taste, and the smell and, voila, there is your plant-based alternative to the real thing.”

Mitloehner also made a point to acknowledge in his conversation with Flory that it isn’t the alternative foods he has a problem with, it’s how they are marketed.

“I don’t want to be misunderstood. People are saying I don’t like alternatives. If people want to eat it, eat it. What I have a beef with is he makes his business on the backs of our farmers. And he publicly describes the beef sector as filthy, as inhumane, as unsafe, and that is just intentionally misleading. That’s the problem I have.”

6 thoughts on “Dog food or fake meat? Most can’t tell the difference

  1. the 2 main ingredients in pedigree dog food is corn and meat, so using your logic, everytime you eat meat or corn….you are eating dog food. By comparison you compared beyond to vegan dog food which most dog owners wouldn’t use as they cheap out and by the cheapest brand at walmart or target, which is likely to be a major brand like pedigree on sale…… of course the professor is from DAVIS, California’s farming ***h*le….. and we are on a meat website so I will eventually be removed or possibly not even listed…. skewed point of view AF

    1. It’s severely processed. Eat whole vegetables, they are actually good for you, these meat substitutes are garbage that is well marketed. If like my meat to taste like meat and my vegetables to taste like vegetables.

    2. The difference is that dog food is not being sold on the MEAT counter. I have to complain to the stores who are selling them on the meat counter before I am allowed to launch a formal complaint to Consumer Services. I think my concerns will be well taken. If putting those burgers on the meat counter is not out and out FRAUD it at least raises the spectre of Consumer confusion. By the way, I haven’t met a vegan yet who doesn’t eat bacon so when you are strutting your moral superiority I hope you are not one of those individuals who would kill an animal, slice a couple of strips off the side and then throw the rest away. Or maybe you just tear off the hide for your leather shoes or boots and dump the rest? Do you get our your can of Raid every time you see a flying insect or an ant? Ethical meat eaters use every single piece of the animal. I worked with a dairy farmer and he treated his animals humanely and with respect. What we really need in this country is a Charter of Rights for animals.

  2. I am on a personal campaign to at least have Beyond Meat removed from the meat counter. It does not contain a shred of meat and the sodium level is over the top. Ground up yellow peas, water, genetically modified rice and soy, beet juice and bamboo cellulose are NOT the same thing as meat. Someone will eventually buy this stuff thinking they are buying beef. The price tag is similar even though you can buy the ingredients for MUCH less.

    1. Carol – The point of Beyond Meat is indeed to NOT CONTAIN A SHRED OF MEAT. It is not meant to BE meat. It is meant to replace meat for those that do not want to eat meat. If you buy it by mistake I think you should blame yourself for not being conscious of what is on the ingredient list of things to consume. Read the labels and you will be fine. Why would you be on a campaign to remove something you do not even buy?

      1. Lolz – A gentleman has appeared on Your Morning several times touting this particular brand of dog food as the meat of the future. If its NOT MEAT it does NOT belong on the meat counter. Consumers have fought for decades to ensure that products are AS ADVERTISED. Putting it on the meat counter is tantamount to FRAUD. I remember when they brought margarine onto the market and marketed it as being healthier than margarine. Eat the stuff if you want. If you feed dog food to your kids I’m pretty sure you would have big problem with Child Services. I’m on a campaign to have it REMOVED FROM THE MEAT COUNTER.

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