Missouri Says Plant-Based Meats Aren't Meat

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By: Rudy Sanchez

Used to be that you don’t win friends with salad (or vegetables), but times have changed, and the meat substitute market is now valued at $4.175 billion and is expected to grow to over $7.5 billion by 2025.

Alternatives like tofu and garden burgers provided vegetarians with a source of protein that could kinda' sorta' fill the void of animal protein, but companies like  Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are getting pretty damn close to the real deal, not in only in flavor but texture and appearance as well.

These “near-meats” don’t have nearly the environmental impact that cow meat has. According to the Journal of Animal Science, 52.8 gallons of water and 74.5 square feet of land are required for a single quarter-pound patty of bovine meat.

By contrast, Impossible Food’s 2017 sustainability report finds that a single Impossible burger patty only requires 6 gallons of water and 4.5 square feet of land to grow the ingredients that go into their product.

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Despite the popularity and advances in vegan/vegetarian meat substitutes, the state of Missouri wants to make sure only animal flesh is called “meat,” and Turtle Islands Foods, makers of “Tofurky,” is among companies and organizations suing over the new law.

As the law is written, they argue, it’s too vague and could be interpreted as disallowing them from using terms such as sausage or hot dog. Proponents of the law, such as the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA), say they are more concerned with lab-grown meat being confused with actual meat.

“The use of traditional nomenclature on alternative products is confusing to consumers and weakens the value of products derived from actual livestock production,” according to MCA Vice President Mike Deering.

It’s hard to imagine consumers confusing the lab-grown stuff with the real thing. For starters, it’s currently more expensive, and for most alt-meat producers, the fact that they are vegetable-based is actually a prime selling point: companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Food, and Turtle Islands Foods want consumers choosing their products not just because it’s free of animals, but it’s a more sustainable choice.

What is meat? Can it be an experience that’s plant-based, or as Missouri would insist, it has to be animal-based? Until it’s settled, it seems like everyone is just going to have a cow over words.


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Rudy Sanchez

Rudy Sanchez is a product marketing consultant based in Southern California. Once described by a friend as her “technology life coach,” he is a techie and avid lifelong gamer. When he’s not writing or helping clients improve their products, he’s either watching comedies on Netflix, playing the latest shooter or battle royale game or out exploring the world via Ingress and Pokémon Go.