You don’t have to pay much attention to know that fake meat is a huge trend! Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat have both been in the news quite a bit as more restaurants include them on their menus.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the world of fake meat. Meat alternatives are receiving push back from (of course) cattle ranchers.
This is hardly surprising. Revenues for fake meat purveyors are up 8% in the past twelve months. Real meat is down half a percent. And the preceding twelve months saw nearly the same trend.
A Roast By Any Other Name
One tack the ranchers are trying focuses on terminology. That is, beef ranchers do not want fake meat labeled as beef or as meat. (We reported last week how bread manufacturers and bakers are battling in the UK over the term “sourdough.”) Ranchers have petitioned the USDA to forbid the use meat terms for products lacking meat.
The Meat Of The Matter
While fake meat only accounts for 1% of the total meat market, ranchers see the writing on the wall. Indeed, there is a clear comparison with the “alt milk” market. Soy, oat, almond and other “milks” now represent 10% of all milk sold.
Ranchers’ fears may be well-founded. Look on the Mission page for Impossible Foods, and you’ll see they are open about wanting to end livestock as food. “Using animals to make meat is a prehistoric and destructive technology. We’re making meat from plants so that we never have to use animals again.”
Impossible Foods is not exactly mincing words there.
Meat producers have also pointed out that “fake meat” is highly processed – a description that is sure to turn away consumers seeking natural foods. Further, meat industry groups have engaged scientists to find potential health risks associated with faux meat.
Of course, legal wrangling – in the courts and state legislatures – has ensued. Some midwestern states have passed laws protecting beef producers.
As an example, a Missouri law passed earlier this year calls for fines and/or imprisonment for manufacturers or advertisers using the term “meat” on anything other than actual cattle or poultry.
One thing is for sure: the plant-based meat trend is not slowing down at all. It’s still heating up. And so this fight will continue…
How can food bloggers benefit from this information? A few thoughts: People continue to be interested in fake meat. You could of course create recipes that either replicate meats and meaty textures – or that feature existing meat alternatives. Alternately, you could offer recipes that provide a lot of protein – as meats do – but that are vegetarian. You could create recipes for traditional meat dishes that (somehow!) offer a lot of taste and texture, but use less meat.