The CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods has some concerns about the plant-based “meat” craze.
John Mackey told CNBC on Wednesday that plant-based meat substitutes are good for the environment, but not for your health, echoing concerns that have been raised by dietitians and nutritionists in recent weeks.
“If you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods,” Mackey told CNBC. “I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods.
He continued: “As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big a criticism that I will do in public.”
Mackey also said that plant-based meats are a better for the environment than traditional meat, which usually consumes large amounts of water for production.
One of the most dominant companies in the plant-based meat space – Beyond Meat – got its start at Whole Foods in 2013 with vegan “chicken” strips. Mackey says Whole Foods has been a launching pad for almost all of Beyond Meat’s products.
Beyond Meat’s stock price has surged more than 500% since the company’s initial public offering in May. Those gains have come as demand for plant-based products has exploded. The company now has partnerships almost a dozen food-retailers including Dunkin, Subway, and most recently, KFC.
As plant-based meat options have become more widely available in recent months, critics have begun to question the health benefits of these products. Many of the plant-based meat alternatives are highly-processed and include coconut oil, an ingredient known to have loads of saturated fat.
Video: KFC tests chickenless fried ‘chicken’ (Courtesy: Now This News)