Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Rip Esselstyn, author of "The Engine 2 Diet" at his book signing at Whole Foods - Minneapolis. First, let me say that up close, this guy looks HEALTHY! Of course, he's lean and in great shape, but he's also got beautiful skin and eyes that are crystal clear and intensely alert - only the shock of white hair on his head hints at his 49 years. Other than that, he's one of those rare people who looks truly alive.
I told Rip I was concerned with meat substitutes, explaining that I didn't understand why, if the diet calls for eliminating processed foods, meat substitutes, which are indeed processed, were acceptible. Then I told him I was conflicted about supporting an unethical company like Boca, which is under the Kraft umbrella (both Boca and Kraft are named corporate villains by The Better World Shopping Guide based on factors like human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice). And finally, I said was concerned about eating products with GMOs.
Here's what he had to say: "I see those meat substitutes as bridges to get you over to the other side. So you use those meat substitutes to get over, and then you start making your own veggie burgers like the ones in the book. Basically the three types of protein I use are tofu, tempeh and seitan. "
So, in essence, meat substitutes are the lesser of two evils. For anyone who's considering adding a Meatless Monday to your nutritional repertoire, meat substitutes can really help with that transition. But in the long run, you're better served to make your own veggie burgers and meat dishes using tofu, tempeh and seitan. Or at the very least, buy organic products and support ethical companies.
If you're interested in learning more about conscientious consumerism, take a look at The Better World Shopping Guide. It's a pocket-sized handbook that has ratings of all sorts of products - from food to clothing to cleaning supplies to medical products - that are ranked according to the factors I listed above.
Thanks to Rip for a great chat, and to Whole Foods - Minneapolis Whole Foods for putting on a great event!