4th of July is right around the corner and I really can’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than a good old fashioned BBQ. But I have to be honest here, attending a BBQ produces a bit of anxiety for me every time. Will the host serve only beef hamburgers and hotdogs? (I don’t eat beef or any type hot dog.) Will the meat be organic? Will there be vegetarian options? Will the cook char the meat to death and produce heterocyclic amines that are known to cause colon cancer?
Needless to say, I am honestly a little disappointed when the host decides to serve things I don’t eat but get even more anxious when they offer to pick up some veggie burgers from the store for me. I am downright frightened of the ingredients in those frozen meat flavored patties. My response to their offer is always “No, thank you, I’ll bring a dish” and here’s why:
- Neurotoxins & Carcinogens – The majority of store-bought veggie burgers contain some form of soy. Non organic soy is extracted using hexane, a chemical byproduct of petroleum refining. The food industry uses the hexane extraction method because it is cheap. Several studies have been published about the neurotoxicity of exposure of humans and animals to hexane, but the most alarming ones link exposure to brain tumors. Currently the FDA sets no limit to the amount of hexane that can be used in non-organic soy products and no one knows for sure how much residue is being consumed by the American public. If you want more info on this – the Cornucopia Institute released an excellent report about several popular veggie burger brands that use hexane. To quote top researcher Charlotte Valleys, “The bigger picture here is that hexane is being released into the atmosphere—since it’s an air pollutant. It leads to smog, which is ground-level ozone, which leads to a whole bunch of health problems, like asthma in kids. These effects are very real.” I don’t want this in my body or in the air I breathe – do you?
- Cheap Oils – If you see the words “canola oil, soy oil, corn oil, sunflower, and/or safflower oil” it is likely extracted with hexane too. But what further complicates this matter (if having a neurotoxin byproduct in your burger is not enough) is that the overconsumption of these cheap oils are causing an abundance of Omega 6 fatty acids in our diets. The imbalance of Omega 6 fatty acids increases the risk of inflammation, heart disease, obesity, and prostate and bone cancer.
- Textured Vegetable Protein, aka “TVP” – Several frozen veggie burgers available are developed using soy products and Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). TVP is one of those foods I avoid at all costs and no one will ever convince me to eat something this processed. TVP is extracted from soy at a super high heat and made into a powder before it is “reshaped” into strips, chunks and granules and put back into food. The processing can also add artificial and natural flavors, MSG, colorings, emulsifiers and thickening agents, including nitrosamine, which is a carcinogen no one should be consuming. Does this picture of TVP look like nutritious nuggets of real food to you?
- Chemically Altered Flavorings & MSG – There are several hidden sources of MSG found in vegetarian meat substitutes. The food industry uses MSG to make processed food that is low in nutrition taste good, tricking your taste buds into liking something that isn’t real food. Futhermore, MSG increases your insulin response, tricking your body into thinking you can eat more than you actually should. And this is exactly how scientists make rats obese, by feeding them MSG laced food. I don’t know about you, but knowing there is a potential substance that can trick me into eating more food is reason enough to avoid this at all costs. But MSG is linked to all sorts of terrible reactions in humans like migraines, toxicity, and autoimmune disorders that you can read about in this tell all book about MSG.
- Full of Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMOs) – If the burger contains anything derived from corn or soy, you can almost guarantee it comes from genetically modified seeds unless it is certified 100% organic. Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxicity, allergic reactions and fertility issues and have not been studied for their long term effects on our health. Unfortunately, here in the US, companies can get away with including GMOs in our foods without us knowing it. If you want to know if GMO’s are in your food – support the Just Label It.org by signing their petition to the FDA
The Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burger, along with several other brands are guilty of every one of these points above. This burger is marketed as “healthy” and has even more questionable ingredients like caramel coloring (which is linked to cancer) and a slew of other chemical based preservatives. Knowing that I used to eat this particular brand many years ago on a weekly basis, absolutely disgusts me now. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of processed and convenience foods making a fool out of me…share this info with all your veggie burger buying friends and spread the word.
If you know someone who could use this information, please share it with them, you could be a lifesaver!
P.S. This is one of my favorite homemade veggie burger recipes ever.
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