Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said he "will not endorse" plant-based "meats" that have become increasingly popular, because he believes they are unhealthy, according to Business Insider.
"If you look at the ingredients, they are super-highly processed foods," Mackey said on CNBC. "I don't think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods. As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big a criticism that I will do in public."
Although Mackey doesn't endorse the products, plant-based meat company Beyond Meat was first sold in Whole Foods stores in 2013 in the form of vegan chicken strips, and Mackey acknowledged that his company has been a "launching pad" for Beyond Meat.
Beyond Meat burgers are being sold in several fast food chains now. Beyond Burgers are made with pea protein isolate as the primary ingredient. Other ingredients (there are 22 in total) include mung bean protein, apple extract, and pomegranate fruit powder.
Another popular meat alternative, the Impossible Burger, is a soy-based product. Nutritionists cited concerns about saturated fat content and the presence of chemical additives as reasons to be cautious about meat alternative burgers, although some still believe it is a better health choice than red meat.
However, the environmental impact of decreasing red meat consumption is just as important, if not more important to advocates of these products. Beef consumption has been tied by climate activists to greenhouse gas emissions and high levels of water consumption related to production.
The issue became a source of humor when a draft of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal cited a line about being able to "fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes." The United Nations says about 25 percent of the greenhouse gases produced by livestock farming come from cow flatulence.