I don’t know how you celebrate Independence Day, but at our house, the 4th is always spent grilling out with friends and taking in the local fireworks show. The main course for the meal is always the same — hamburgers and all-beef hotdogs cooked over charcoal. Simple, but hard to beat.
But if you listen to the rhetoric from meatless advocates, I guess I should enjoy my Independence Day burger while I can. Just this winter, the CEO of Impossible Foods, a company that produces meat substitute products, predicted that using animals for food would be an obsolete practice by 2035.
Seriously? Perhaps he is simply “laying it on thick” to elevate his company and product in the eyes of investors, because that seems, well, impossible. Meat consumption has been trending upwards for years, with a considerable spike during 2020.
However, when you hear about major meat companies like Cargill and Tyson expanding their plant-based meat product lines, you start to wonder. Could this be the future?
Before this week I had never tried plant-based meat (unless you count a Slug Burger on a trip to North Mississippi). For the sake of journalistic integrity, I figured I shouldn’t write about it without at least tasting it, so I headed to a fast-food restaurant and ordered a meatless burger.
To be honest, it wasn’t awful, especially paired with the bun and condiments. The texture was definitely different, and there was a bit of an aftertaste. In no way would I have been fooled in a blind taste test. It did vaguely remind me of something I used to eat at the Southside Elementary cafeteria back in the ‘90s (which confirms my childhood suspicions about those school lunches).
A quick internet dive into the future of faux meat products turns up some interesting concepts, including bacon made from mushrooms, and even steak made on a 3-D printer. Points for creativity, but it doesn’t sound particularly appetizing.
I realize some people must avoid meat for health reasons. I’m ok with seeing meat alternatives at the grocery. But I’m bothered by the messaging that plant-based meat is for the “enlightened” — the meatless martyrs who are going to cancel animal agriculture and save the planet. Forgive me, but I just have a hard time believing a concrete factory full of steak-printing robots is better for the environment than a wide-open green pasture.
This article from the Texas Farm Bureau does a good job of describing how the elimination of animal agriculture would barely put a dent in greenhouse gas emissions. Preaching to the choir, I know, but maybe it will help you explain the facts to non-ag friends.
Hopefully someone can figure out a way to reach them. I know I’m not ready to give up my real burger yet.