Plantbased Business Hour

What’s Behind Fatty Meat: Plant Chompers’ Chris MacAskill on The Plantbased Business Hour

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Mr. Plant Chompers, Chris MacAskill, joins Elysabeth Alfano on The Plantbased Business Hour to share why he created the super popular YouTube channel Plant Chompers. Often getting over 100k views, Chris talks about achieving better health and the science behind achieving better health to help consumers understand the underpinnings of a healthy diet.  They also discuss the business elements that can further misinformation. It’s a very fun and nerdy Plantbased Business Hour!

Specifically, they discuss,

  1. Misunderstandings about diabetes,
  2. The rising cost of healthcare in parallel with a growing number of obese Americans,
  3. The negative impacts on health from eating meat and the benefits of meat alternatives,
  4. The planetary healthcare costs of our current food supply system.

 Below is a short clip and transcript from their conversation. Podcast here.

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Elysabeth: This was really shocking to me: meat being fed and bred-animals being fed and bred-to be more fatty over time and I think the timeframe that we’re talking about is 1988 to today. Can you talk about how the animals are being bred? I think most people think animals are natural, and just as clarification, there are 80 billion animals on the planet in factories, animal factories, with eight billion people on the planet. So, ten times more animals than people on Earth. That means 90% of the Earth’s living, breathing entities are living in their own feces butt to snout. It’s very difficult to outrun a pandemic in those conditions. That’s another conversation we’ll talk about in a second.

Chris MacAskill: Or E. coli.

Elysabeth: Or E. coli, exactly right. Just to understand, the mass meat industry has nothing to do with ‘the barn is red, the farmer is happy, he’s gnawing on a piece of straw, and there are maybe four animals around a family of five for a family farm.’ That’s not what we’re talking about and that’s statistically not what the world is. So this is a very industrialized, non-natural situation. How are they making animals higher in fat?

Chris MacAskill: They take a breed like Angus and they say, “Wow, consumers really want marbled beef, they like the extra fat content.”  We’re drawn to fat.  We’re drawn to caloric density.  We evolved in an era of scarcity and so we went after the highest caloric foods we could get and fat has nine calories per gram and protein has four, so the fattier the meat, the more delicious it is, and the USDA even grades these from prime and choice and regular. The fattier it is the better the price it fetches, so the farmers and ranchers are all trying to get marbled beef. They’ll do that by feeding them grain, high calorie foods, but there’s a massive breeding program that’s been going on for fifty years or something that’s true of chickens and sheep and cows and pigs. That’s why pigs are so fat.

Gestation Crate Pigs McDonald's
Pigs in gestation crates ©The Humane Society

So, if you go buy a McDonald’s burger patty, typically it will be 64% fat and 36% protein. You think of it as a high protein food. Beef used to be, like other animals in the wild, 15% fat and 85% protein. If you go shoot something in the wild, it doesn’t matter if it’s a different species the way cows used to be, they were high protein and low fat like bison are or venison is or giraffes.

Elysabeth: Huh, I don’t think I knew that.

Chris MacAskill: What the bushmen are eating in Africa, they’re 15% fat and 85% protein. Not anymore. Now if you go to the supermarket and you get 80% lean ground beef, that’s 80% by weight lean, but by calories it’s more like 70% fat. So it’s not a high protein food. Tofu has higher protein than that. So it’s become extremely calorie dense and that twelve ounce steak you’re buying at the steakhouse has many more calories now than it ever had before, more than double, and you’re thinking, “Wow, when I was a kid, I ate twelve ounce steaks all the time. Now they’re even juicier and tastier and more irresistible and why has the United States gotten so obese? It’s a mystery. It must be the Doritos.”

© Morinaga Nutritional Products

Elysabeth: I mean, the Doritos surely don’t help, but I would also argue that- and I get this from, from the early sixties the meat consumption in the U.S. has gone up from a low of 100 pounds per person, I believe, to almost 300 pounds; 282 as of 2019. Obviously, here in 2023 we’re eating even more, so you’re looking at more than 100% growth of how much meat we eat. 

So, maybe people ate twelve ounces as a kid, but most likely they had four or six or maybe eight. Now we have meat three times a day in enormous oversized quantities so it’s such simple math. It’s really not hard to see why we’re obese when we’re eating more in general than we should and we’re eating more of the wrong foods than we should. And these foods don’t have any fiber.

So, going back to diabetes, if you have that fiber – I know it’s counterintuitive folks because you look at steak and you say, “But it’s fibrous-looking. How could it not have fiber?” But it’s zero fiber. In this very long human digestive tract, no fiber to move it through.  Should we talk about colorectal cancer? Maybe we will because that’s kind of linked to this. But, no fiber goes through the system so you’re not clearing those cells that are wanting to get rid of that saturated fat to counteract diabetes. It’s all connected. 

Elysabeth Alfano is the CEO of VegTech™ Invest, the advisor to the VegTech™ Plant-based Innovation & Climate ETF, EATV. She is also the founder of Plant Powered Consulting and the Host of the Plantbased Business Hour.  

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