Eating plant-based burgers doesn’t cause ‘man boobs’

screenshot impossible foods
Credit: Impossible Foods

[December 2019, cattle veterinarian James] Stangle cautioned that Impossible’s meat substitute, which debuted in the spring of 2019 and started earning contracts with fast-food joints across America later on in the year, contained “18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper.” He reasoned that eating four Impossible Burgers a day was enough to “grow boobs on a male.” Dr. Stangle’s conclusion appeared in headlines all across the internet, then broke Facebook’s algorithm, because of course it did. There was only one problem: it wasn’t true.

Writers from The AtlanticThe Washington Post and even Fox News were all quick to point out that the soy in Impossible meat does not include estrogen as we’re familiar with it (a mammalian hormone), but phytoestrogen, a compound found in plants. Nations that top the charts in soy consumption, which are mostly Asian, have not reported gynecomastia… If overdosing on soy phytoestrogen does wacky things to the male body, science just hasn’t seen it yet. In fact, soy-rich diets have actually been connected with improvements in heart health and blood pressure.

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Not long after becoming an overnight folk hero for hundreds of thousands of cattle ranchers and millions of carnivores across the country, Dr. Stangle walked back his wildest takes… But it was too late. As Dr. Stangle pointed out to The Atlantic: “The retraction didn’t get much traction.”

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