Cheap food was the solution. Now it’s the problem.

The modern food and agricultural industries have solved a major global problem – they now produce a plentiful supply of safe, affordable, convenient, and tasty foods, which has been contributing to a significant reduction in world hunger and malnutrition over the past century. But now humanity is facing another major dilemma. The current food production practices are linked to the high prevalence of some chronic diseases, as well as to appreciable environmental damage.

The root cause is a vicious cycle of cheap food, where low costs drive bigger demand for food and more waste, with more competition then driving costs even lower through more clearing of natural land and use of polluting fertilizers and pesticides.

“Politicians are still saying ‘my job is to make food cheaper for you’, no matter how toxic it is from a planetary or human health perspective,” says Professor Tim Benton, at Chatham House. “We must stop arguing that we have to subsidize the food system in the name of the poor and instead deal with the poor by bringing them out of poverty.”

The current food system is a double-edged sword providing cheap food but failing to take into account the hidden costs to our health and to the natural world.

Jane Goodall, the renowned conservationist, says that the intensive farming of billions of animals seriously damaged the environment and inhumane crowded conditions risked new pandemic diseases crossing into people.

A higher quantity and enhanced quality of food are required to feed a global population that is growing and becoming wealthier. People are being encouraged to consume more plant-based foods to reduce the negative impacts of the modern food supply on human and global health. The food industry is creating a new generation of plant-based products to meet this demand, including meat, fish, egg, milk, cheese, and yogurt analogs.

It sounds like the path is clear – humanity has found the solution. The problem is, however, that the plant-based industry might end up in the same vicious cycle of cheap food.

The main challenge in this area is to simulate the desirable appearance, texture, flavor, mouthfeel, nutrition, and functionality of these products using healthy, affordable, and sustainable plant-derived ingredients, such as lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates.

The rise in plant-based meat alternatives is taking the fast-food world and our kitchens by storm. A Kentucky Fried Chicken, based in Atlanta, sold out of their new plant-based Beyond Meat chicken within a few hours of opening!

However, while these new meatless alternatives — such as Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger — are better for the environment, they are not automatically healthy just because they’re environmentally friendly. Plant-based meats are highly processed products, foods that have undergone processing (frozen, canned, dried, baked pasteurized) and contain additives. Highly processed foods generally contain dextrose and maltose — forms of processed sugar — trans fats, and hydrogenated oils.

The popular plant-based meat products that could be found at any supermarket and lots of fast-food chains are completely safe for consumption, but they aren’t health foods and yet they are being treated and consumed as if they were.

Most plant-based meat alternatives source their protein and texture from legumes such as lentils and whole soybeans. Yet, due to the high degree of processing involved, many of these healthy foods lose their nutrient-density and, in particular, the compounds that make them coveted by plant-based eaters in the first place.

At Vegan Warrior Project, we believe that food should come from a farm, not a lab, and all our plant-based ingredients are locally sourced and easily identifiable. If the plant-based revolution takes the easy road of cheap, highly processed food, humanity will find itself on the wrong path again. We are doing our part to make sure that communities around the country have access to high quality plant-based menu options that are good for the environment AND healthy.

About Vegan Warrior Project (VWP)

VWP is a NYC plant-based Food, Technology & Marketing organization, co-founded in 2020 and led by digital marketing and technology veteran Ross Glick, former CEO of iNDELIBLE Media. The company aims to help struggling independent restaurant owners everywhere optimize and maximize their untapped kitchen capacity, so they can create more profits for both the independent restaurant owner and VWP. Vegan Warrior Project is helping and aggregating thousands of independent restaurants to create the first nationwide Plant-Based Kitchen Fulfillment Partnership (‘KFP’) Network to support its geographic expansion for its wholly owned vegan delivery brands www.VistroBurger.com & www.PurpleThai.com. Both brands are currently available for delivery in NYC, from its flagship KFP Plant Bar NYC: Nomad.