Tofurky Plant-Based Burgers

overall Rating:

2.6

planets

Angelina Godinez
7/1/2021
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When it comes to addressing climate change, Tofurky deserves a round of applause. They not only educate on the environmental impacts of meat consumption but also emphasize the social side of sustainability. Their website educates and excites, using data and engaging graphics to convey their message. It is clear their mission to spreading awareness of and gaining support for the climate movement is taken into consideration in their supply chain and production. This Oregon-based, family company deserves some consumer love for their transparency and advocacy as they continue to prioritize “purpose over profits.” Some areas for improvement are more information on their land management/practices, plastic usage in packaging, and specification of where their donations and support are being provided which would most likely also boost their B Impact Score as a Certified B Corporation. I have personally been using their deli slices as part of my vegetarian diet, but I am most definitely going to go try their new plant-based patties— and highly recommend you do too! 

what it's made of:

2.75

These patties are designed to be deliciously meatless to promote plant-based burgers for all. As shared on the website, “raising livestock accounts for 15% of global emissions” which is as much as “all forms of transportation on Earth: cars, boats, planes, and trains combined.” A strong majority of these associated emissions are coming directly from cows, so plant-based burgers are a solution to avoid these emissions. Moreover, the consumption of 1 pound of plant-based protein, versus 1 pound of animal protein, can save 25 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Their chart shows that a plant-based burger uses 87% less water (gal), 94% less land (Sq. Ft.), and generates 89% fewer carbon emissions (Lbs.) compared to that required of a beef burger. The main ingredient is water, and then soy protein isolate/concentrate, vital wheat gluten & starch, expeller pressed canola oil & coconut oil, fermented corn sugar, natural flavors, sea salt, spices, sunflower oil, citric acid, and other natural flavorings. Oils are conventionally made using chemical solvents and extraction methods that are harmful. The expeller pressing method physically squeezes out the oil from seeds instead of using chemicals which eliminates the use of solvents and the risk of residue hexane (an air pollutant) that creates artificial trans fat, making it better for consumers and the environment. Also, Tofurky sources only organic and domestically grown soybeans for all their products.

The packaging itself is made mostly from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paperboard which ensures the paper comes from responsibly managed lumber sources. I consume the Tofurky deli slices regularly and they come shrink-wrapped in plastic; it appears from the website images that the burgers are also plastic-covered. According to a Forbes article, though, Tofurky’s square packaging uses 69% less plastic and 23% less paperboard than standard packaging for patties. I’d encourage Tofurky to continue looking for ways to minimize their plastic usage in the packaging of their products, perhaps exploring substitute materials or using a tighter seal to use less packaging per product. 

how it's made:

2.4

Tofurky’s manufacturing plant is LEED-certified (the third facility of its kind in the U.S.). LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it is the most widely used and recognized green building rating system that improves buildings’ environmental performance, making the certification a “symbol of sustainable and environmentally sound buildings.” All the wood is FSC certified and 90% of all construction waste was recycled or repurposed. The hydroefficiencies fall 40% above Oregon’s building code thanks to their rainwater harvesting and its green roof with solar panels that generate enough electricity to power 12 houses. Tofurky partners with sustainable, organic, and Fair Trade vendors “whenever possible” and their “Green Team” initiates practices like composting all food scraps (2,750 pounds a week) to actively work towards a zero-waste goal.

Their products are made in Oregon and they source local and organic ingredients from their Pacific Northwest neighbors “including Bob’s Red Mill for flours and grains”, showing some strong transparency when it comes to their sourcing and better yet, local sourcing! With that said, the more transparency the better, so I’d encourage them to elaborate even further on the land practices involved with their other ingredients as well and to share how they are supporting healthy soil. Furthermore, I could not find information on how the production of the patties themselves and the methods used; I encourage Tofurky to expand on the sustainability involved in this process and to practice transparency in this area. 

who makes it:

2.6

Tofurky is a Certified B Corporation meaning they “have met or exceeded a set of standards for the treatment of their workers, the sourcing of their supplies, their engagement with local communities, and their impact on the environment” which aligns with their mission of being a business that contributes to society and a thriving planet. Upon looking at their B Impact Report, I was surprised to see that their “Overall B Impact Score“ is 81.6, with 80 being the minimum qualifying score for B Corp Certification. It appears their score is taking the biggest hit under the category of “Customers” coming in at a score of only 2.9, with the “Serving in Need Populations” subcategory showing “N/A”. Their highest score comes from the category “Environment” (24.1), but better access to the reports and materials that these scores are composed of would be beneficial for understanding the scores and their implications. I suggest that Tofurky looks into actions that could raise their score under ”Health & Wellness Improvement“ for customers as well as in the other four categories: Governance, Workers, Community, and Environment.

Tofurky donates food to homeless shelters, food banks, and festivals as well as part of their profits to animal advocacy organizations/sanctuaries. The sanctuaries rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home farm animals. The animal advocacy groups fight for legislation, file litigation, and launch campaigns to protect animals — striving for a safer, friendlier environment for all animals. Tofurky supports local animal rescues, funds community scholarships, and boosts groups that protect our forests and watersheds. They claim to have a “special devotion to those who provide nutritious food for folks in need”, so it would be appreciated to see that devotion laid out clearly in actions and specific groups/people. This also goes for the other organizations and groups they support; easy access to names and locations pertaining to their donations and support would reinforce their message.

Their Tofurky Trot, a 5k run/walk located in both Portland and Los Angeles, raises profits through ticket sales which then get donated to a select non-profit. Tofurky encourages American consumers to vote too, offering easy access to voter registration, a pledge to be an environmental voter through the Environmental Voter Project, phone numbers to call our reps about climate change action, and guidance on how to express the call for climate action to our elected officials. The website also offers information on the Green New Deal, educational materials on the intersection of the racial justice and climate justice movements, suggestions on how to be an ally for both movements, and links to climate change allies such as FridaysForFuture.

Tofurky is a family company with no shareholders because they have “always focused on purpose over profits” and believe that “people, animals, and the environment matter more than profit margins”. This message is highlighted throughout their website. They strive to make plant-based protein products for all eaters, seeking to provide food that plant-eaters and current meat-eaters alike can enjoy.