opinion | Declining demand for plant-based meats indicates that the hype has outdone the reality


The future of vegetarian meat was supposed to be cooked perfectly. In the last years, Corporate and Venture Capital Money poured into space. fastfood giants Like KFC and Burger King race to put up offers. A crowd of meme arrows swarmed around Beyond the meat. Sales were growing. Vegetarians who miss meat will like it! Even better, it will find a following with meat eaters looking to cut back!

Now it is clear that hype has sometimes given way to less than delicious fact. Sales of vegetarian meat in the United States Down By more than 10 percent from the same period last year. The issue is fundamental: The problems fake meat was supposed to solve — from the climate impact of industrial farming to the health effects of meat — are all very real, but the solution it offers appeals to far fewer consumers than expected.

The truth, of course, is that we eat not just for nutrition, but for enjoyment. Meat offers a mouthwatering and delicious experience that is impossible to reproduce until now.

When I asked over the course of weeks, I discovered quite a few fans of processed meat alternatives. “Very rubbery,” said a friend. Another said “Moshi”. My oldest son made a face. The only one I could find who claimed to taste like the real thing admittedly, in fact, you haven’t tasted the real thing in over 20 years. Some vegans told me they didn’t mind it and were happy to have it as an option on fast food menus, and others told me they enjoyed it as an alternative to breakfast meats like sausage and bacon. But few people seem to find vegetarian meat really tasty.

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On the experts side, everyone from Wall Street short sellers to market researchers has said, at least for the time being, that many of the fake meat sales look like people are trying it out. “I think a lot of people were trying at once,” said popular shorts seller Jim Chanos, when I called him to ask how the once-promising Beyond Meat as one of the most popular shorts ended up. He noted that the company is “not profitable”. When I asked him what he thought of the shows, he replied, “Put me in the category of people who have tried it once.”

And when it comes to health, yes, these “meats” are significantly lower in saturated fat than the real thing – but they also contain more sodium. It’s a very processed show. A report issued this year by the advocacy group warns Food and water monitoring. The food-industrial complex is a huge player, with companies like Tyson Foods and Cargill dominating the space.

These facts mean that many health-informed people have remained skeptical about adding these artificial meats to their diets. Christine Lawless, author ofFormerly known as food. “

The data shows that the new offering doesn’t seem to result in massive cuts in meat – it’s more than just a supermarket addition. The study was also published this year in the journal temper nature He remarked dryly, “Interestingly, after the family’s first PBMA [plant-based meat alternatives] Buy, minced meat consumption has not decreased. ”

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At the moment of rising food prices, it becomes very easy to do without such novelties. Of the people who told me they enjoyed plant-based meat and ate it regularly (often as a breakfast meat alternative), many said they would cut back when inflation rose. This points to a big problem – often artificial meat More expensive From the real budget version at least.

In other words, people want to do right by the environment and their health – but not at a huge cost to their taste buds or wallet.

It’s hard not to think of margarine. In the sixties, seventies and eighties of the last century, Margarine was quickly replacing butter in cooking. One ad declared that the stuff was so good that it could “fool Mother Nature”. It wasn’t true, and consumers knew it. They just thought it was a healthy choice. When it turned out in the ’90s that wasn’t the case, sales fizzled out. This is not to say that margarine is still with us, but few talk about it as an alternative to butter.

What we see may be a brief pause, and the imitation meat market will rebound as the product and the economy improve. One reason for optimism: meat consumers are generally vegetarians younger than other shoppers, which means there is more room to grow.

But there is actually a viable protein option for those who want to maintain a vegan diet or reduce meat. As the doctor says, eat peas…and other legumes like lentils and beans. True, they do not taste like sausage or chicken. Then again, if you ask me, no imitators either.

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