Beyond Meat, Being Vegan & Our Long Term Health

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Overhauling our food system is a primary focus for nations across the globe as the world quickly moves forward with mapping out urgent and effective mitigation strategies to lower global warming in an effort to stay below 1.5ºC. Additionally, the goal for all G-20 nations heading to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, is to implement clean energy, zero waste, carbon neutral solutions so we can transition to a sustainable culture aligned with biodiversity in nature. 

Conventional farming, (those farms where farmers plow the soil, releasing all the stored carbon, and who use strong microbe-destroying pesticides that contain glyphosate), along with the notorious animal feed lots, have been identified as the chief villains in our global food system which generates extraordinarily high levels of methane and CO2 emissions. Many climate activists around the world are insisting that we all become 100 percent vegan so we can win this particular battle in our fight to cut carbon emissions.

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I was all in on becoming vegetarian 16 years ago, and more recently trying diligently to become 100 percent vegan. This mission of mine was for health reasons, though, after surviving Stage 3 invasive cancer at a relatively young age. Once the 7 surgeries, 3 months of chemo, and 2 months of radiation were completed, my plan had been to stay away from the toxins found in our food supply. I had learned more about these hazardous chemicals while sitting in a chemo chair, researching, trying to keep myself busy during treatment. I simply could not figure out how I got cancer. I ate a healthy diet, and exercised regularly. I didn’t know anyone who had cancer, no family or friends. I became convinced that if I could uncover how it happened, I’d be able to prevent a recurrence.

I wasn’t eating organic before being diagnosed with cancer. I also knew nothing about the glyphosate that was covering the fresh broccoli and other fresh fruits and vegetables that I consumed daily. After all, it was 2005.  But, in 2006, following the conclusion of my my cancer treatments at the end of 2005, I was determined to rebuild my immune system and had the good fortune of meeting with a life-changing doctor associated with what was to become Duke’s new holistic wellness Integrative Medicine Center, which sent me down a bright new path in life. This wonderful wellness doctor offered several natural remedies. One was the daily regimen of pressing a garlic clove into broth and heating to boost my immune system. (I now add the pressed garlic clove to a quarter cup of water instead of broth and heat in microwave for 35 seconds, then chug.) This is super cheap and easy. As is the fresh ginger added to tea.

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My cancer doctor at UNC wasn’t expecting any miracles, and had explained when my treatment was completed that I only had a 34% chance to live longer than 2 – 4 years if I didn’t take Tamoxifen. But, I didn’t want Tamoxifen side effects. There had to be another way. I was determined to prove that rebuilding my immune system by establishing strong daily wellness habits based on natural and holistic principles that incorporated medicinal plants in my diet would work. I’d done everything else my doctor had recommended, but I couldn’t take Tamoxifen. Natural remedies had kept humans alive for thousands of years. There simply had to be some truth behind the belief that it was beneficial, and I was determined to prove it. My initial cancer doctor was not happy with me, at all.

I relished the opportunity to test different plants and vitamins and combinations of plants and vitamins, as well as sleep 8 hours a day and exercise vigorously. I quickly found myself involved in endless days, weeks, and months of testing, altering various amounts of plants, vitamins, sleep and exercise, and after approximately 9 months, ended with a powerful formula that made me feel happy, healthy, and fit, much more so than I’d felt before cancer. My bloodwork even returned to normal with a boost.

All my curiosity and effort paid off. At the two year mark, my pet-scan showed 100% cancer free. I continued maintaining the same rigorous health routine, and 16 years later feel extremely grateful for the guidance I received in 2006 at Duke, that set me on a successful path and taught me so much about health, wellness, and a strong immune system.

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But to become 100 percent vegan for climate, I had to somehow find, or create, the right “complete protein” formula. I learned back in 2006, that for me, powders and supplements weren’t the same as medicinal plants. They seemed the same in theory, but they didn’t feel the same when I used them. I had learned the hard way that too much of a good thing isn’t good. IE, B6. Why so many vitamins have 1000 percent daily recommended amount of B6, is something I’ll never understand. High doses of B6 negatively alter my mood and make me very emotional. I can’t have more than the simple 100 percent B6 and thus have to take children’s chewable vitamins. Another example is garlic. I’ve found, that one clove fresh garlic everyday is different than a garlic supplement. This might just be me, though.

Morning Star products have been around for awhile and they typically have 9g protein, versus Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage’s 16g. None of my lentil, chickpea, black bean or kidney bean formulas were working perfectly, so I had to eat a small piece of antibiotic-free turkey everyday. But 16 months ago, a vegan friend told me about Beyond Meat and how amazing it was, and the effectiveness of the protein. When I spotted it in the grocery store, I grabbed a package of plant-based Beyond Sausage Hot Italian. It tasted great with organic black bean spaghetti and organic marinara sauce. An ideal plant-based product with the perfect protein level. Finally! I was 100% vegan which felt like a big win. But:

  • I never connected my sudden vision deterioration to Beyond Sausage (suddenly not being able to read a text when out in the city without my reading glasses was a problem).
  • Nor could I figure out why every time the water that the sausage was cooking in bubbled over the top of the pan, it started a fire on the stove (with real flames).
  • It also changed my mood, although I didn’t pick up on Beyond Sausage being the cause at the time. I simply wondered why my serotonin rich sunflower seeds, dark chocolate squares and running 5k every day didn’t make me happy any more. That magic “happiness” formula had worked for 15 years, then it abruptly ended after I began eating Beyond Sausage.
  • And I was astonished and very frustrated that changing one thing in my diet could make me gain 10 pounds.
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I began to fret, still not piecing together that these issues were connected to Beyond Sausage, but rather I attributed them to staying home during covid. Covid stay home side effects.

As a soil health advocate and believer in regenerative agriculture, I’m also a big fan of Gabe Brown and Understanding Ag and watch their webinars. It was in June 2021, that I viewed Regenerating Human Health: The Soil and Human Microbiomes with Sara Keough that I learned that those of us who eat these high protein, plant-based meat alternatives should be careful, that recent studies had shown that faux meats aren’t as healthy as they appear to be.

I love to follow the advice of those I trust, and I trust Gabe Brown’s advice implicitly (as well as those connected with Gabe Brown). Thus, I stopped eating Beyond Sausage after Sara Keough’s webinar. In less than 4 weeks, my vision was back to normal, as was my happiness level. And after 2 months, the 10 pounds was gone as well.

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I haven’t been able to find much information on the Beyond Meat side effects of vision, mood, and flammability that I experienced, so maybe my symptoms are a one-off. But I did discover one article that mentioned weight gain.

I’ll now begin researching more about these other concerns, but wanted to document my anecdotal experiences at this time, a few days prior to COP26, since veganism and meat alternatives will be a big discussion at COP26 and the months that follow. These types of health conditions — vision, mood and weight gain — are tough for medical professionals to properly diagnose when the cause is something as innocuous as plant-based meat.  How would a doctor possibly determine that a patient’s health condition might be related to a meat alternative. Is that even a question that doctors ask patients? 

I’m currently hypothesizing that the side effects might have something to do with the pea protein.

With any new product like Beyond Meat, and now a whole line of competing brands, (that climate activists have been hoping will become one of the many silver bullets that lower atmospheric CO2 levels), it’s vitally important that we have assurance that each solution is healthy and safe. With so many forever chemicals hiding in plain sight all around us, any one new drop of an extra chemical added to a daily diet can be the final straw that pushes our health into the danger zone. 

I’ve returned to eating a little bit of meat each week and it feels like the ideal balance for my overall health and wellness. I’m back to being happy, healthy and fit, while still maintaining a very low carbon footprint.

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Beyond Sausage Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Pea Protein Isolate
  • Refined Coconut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavor
  • Contains 2% or less of: Rice Protein, Faba Bean Protein, Potato Starch, Salt, Fruit Juice (for color), Vegetable Juice (for color), Apple Fiber, Methylcellulose, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Calcium Alginate Casing.
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