Comment: Now that we have your attention

Get ready for the fight for animal agriculture


By Eric Bohl, Manitoba Co-operator (Canada) 

May 8, 2019


Raising cattle is a way of life in rural Missouri. We have the second-most cows of any state, behind only Texas. Much of our ag economy depends on beef to survive. The same could be said of pork, poultry or a number of other meat animals. So why write an article taste testing a plant-based “burger”?


As a wake-up call to our industry. The makers of these new products have one goal: to eliminate animal agriculture. Their products are real, they’re here now, and many more are in the pipeline.


A recent Forbes article predicted 2019 as the possible turning point for these products. It said:


Industry observers are excited to see it all unfold. “It’s only the beginning,” says Caroline Bushnell, the Good Food Institute’s senior marketing manager. “We’re in the early stage of a major shift,” she says. What’s sparked the change? “Companies are realizing that the market for plant-based meat isn’t just vegans or vegetarians, it’s meat eaters.”


As already mentioned, Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats, Mosa Meat, Future Meat Technologies and their competitors are determined to eliminate animal agriculture. It is not a side-goal; it’s their core mission.


Here’s a quote from Impossible Foods’ Mission Statement: “using animals to make meat is a prehistoric and destructive technology. Animal agriculture occupies almost half the land on earth, consumes a quarter of our fresh water and destroys our ecosystems. So we’re doing something about it: we’re making meat using plants, so that we never have to use animals again.”


Beyond Meat has a similar mission: “By shifting from animal, to plant-based meat, we are creating one savoury solution that solves four growing issues attributed to livestock production: human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources and animal welfare.” Just below these words, its official website claims that eating animal meat results in a 16 per cent increased cancer risk and 21 per cent increased heart disease risk (which for some undecipherable reason adds together and displays in an infographic as 37 per cent). It also claims “51 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions (are) driven by livestock rearing and processing.” Its investors include Tyson and HSUS. It recently announced plans to go public.


Memphis Meats is still in the research and development phase, but is a leader in developing lab-grown, or “cell-based” meat. This product would take actual animal cells, grow them in a controlled laboratory-like factory setting, and “harvest” the cells for consumption. This is the true Holy Grail for anti-animal-agriculture activists: obtaining animal meat without killing animals. And the idea has big money behind it – Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Cargill and Tyson have all invested in the company. As a Newsweek headline recently stated, many in the industry believe “Lab-Grown Beef Will Save the Planet — and Be a Billion-Dollar Business.”


Surely there’s some good news, though, right? Absolutely. First of all, price is a major consideration in any food-buying decision. The makers of these products know they will not be taking major market share away from animal agriculture unless they can be at cost parity, or even less expensive than beef. The plant-based Impossible Whopper costs $5.49, whereas the regular Whopper is a dollar less at $4.49. That’s about a 22 per cent premium for the Impossible version.


Second, our industry has the tools to make a stand and remain the dominant way of providing the protein and nutrients our bodies need. These companies are playing on emotions, making hugely misleading claims about the impact of animal agriculture on our bodies and planet, and claiming to be saving the world from our evil industry...


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