A European study showed that the food and animal feed system is closely linked to planetary health, and that dietary shifts towards healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are needed for environmental sustainability.
The study also found that vegetable meat alternatives and vegetable milk alternatives have significantly less environmental impact than their animal-based counterparts. While they may not be quite as sustainable as unprocessed plant foods, the difference is small compared to the transportation and processing of meat.
In fact, if everyone in America were to reduce meat consumption by even a quarter, and eat meat substitutes like veggie burgers, it would save 82 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions each year. The Beyond Meat burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land and 90% less fossil fuel emissions, while the Impossible Burger uses 87% less water, 96% less land, and 89% less fossil fuel emissions than a quarter pound of regular ground beef.
So, there you have it. There are substantial advantages to eating meat substitutes, compared to eating meat. As the sale of meat substitutes continue to grow, we can expect the benefit to the environment to grow as well.
The news about plant-based meat products just keeps on coming. Some thought we’d never live to see the day, but some of the biggest purveyors of meat have become some of the biggest purveyors of plant-based food. Competition is heating up in the plant-based protein industry, now worth $14 billion in the US, that Wall Street thinks could grow to be worth $140 billion. We’ve already seen Maple Leaf, a large meat company, acquire Lightlife and Field Roast. Conagra bought Gardein and is getting behind the product, while Nestlé bought Sweet Earth and recently launched their Awesome burger under this brand. Earlier fears that meat companies would acquire plant-based companies only to ruin them have fortunately not been borne out.
Consumers are rushing to try meat substitutes in a number of fast food restaurants, and data show that they’re willing to pay higher prices for the products. A number of high profile fast food restaurants sell plant based foods meat substitutes, and there are more to come. We’ve already written about Burger King’s new Impossible Whopper and the Subway’s forthcoming meatless meatball sub, but others are getting on the bandwagon as fast as they can. Dunkin launched their Beyond sausage sandwich in 163 locations across Manhattan, and KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken launch in Atlanta sold out in just a few hours. Other chains such as Carl’s Jr, Tim Horton’s, Hardee’s and Del Taco are all getting in on the act.
Almost as exciting is the move by many meat companies to innovate their own new meat substitutes. Tyson foods launched Raised & Rooted, a line of products which includes vegan meat alternatives. They are also investing in a plant-based shrimp company. Kellogg has launched Incogmeato, a “next-gen product line” that includes a “ready-to-cook plant-based burger” and fully prepared plant-based “Chik’n” tenders and nuggets. Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, will launch its own plant-based burgers, cookie dough, pasta sauce, sausage, deli slices. Hormel Foods has just launched its own line of plant-based meat alternatives. The line, called Happy Little Plants, includes a ground plant-based protein alternative. Hormel also offers plant-based pizza topping items and the Applegate Blend Burger, which combines organic meat and mushrooms.
This looks like a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. The trend is firmly geared toward giving meat-eaters more plant-based options that they can discover and enjoy. While many of them may stick at being flexitarians, rather than moving to full-on vegetarians or vegans, any reduction in the consumption of animal products is welcome in our book!