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Burger wars heat up as plant-based meat faces backlash

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MELANIE JOY: I am not surprised. When a social movement gets strong enough to challenge the system, the system fights back. One strategy is to discredit everything that represents this change.

BETH GREENFIELD: ‘Anyone who food shops or eats out, even occasionally, has likely noticed the influx of plant-based meat alternatives on the market… Now comes the backlash — led by both an aggressive ad campaign and a series of legislative efforts. “What’s hiding in your plant-based meat?” asked a full-page ad in the New York Times about the “ultra-processed imitations” filled with mysterious ingredients — to which Impossible Foods shot back “the Impossible Burger has none of the noxious slaughterhouse contaminants that can be found in almost all ground beef from cows.” Call it the all-out battle of the burger.

With vegan foods surging into the mainstream — the U.S. plant-based food space grew 11 percent between 2018 and 2019 to $4.5 billion — pushback has grown among those who oppose the shift… “We used to just fly under their radar, but it doesn’t happen that way anymore,” Melanie Joy, a psychologist and activist and author of books including Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, tells Yahoo Lifestyle about vegan activists and the meat industry. “So, I’m not surprised. When a social movement gets strong enough to really challenge the power of the dominant system, the system fights back, and one strategy is to discredit beliefs and practices and everything that represents this change.”

Enter the full-page New York Times ad — and similar ones in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal — which noted that “Real burgers are brats and made from beef, pork, and spices”. The campaign comes courtesy of the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF)… The same day the latest CCF ad ran, House Representatives Anthony Brindisi and Roger Marshall introduced bipartisan legislation — backed by the biggest beef lobbying group in the U.S. — that would stop plant-based meat companies from using the word “meat” to market their products…

“This bill is a bald-faced attempt to get the government to police food labels to benefit the conventional meat industry, not consumers,” Matt Ball, a spokesperson for the Good Food Institute, which advocates for alternatives to animal products, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Demand for plant-based meats is skyrocketing in all regions of the country — including Kansas and New York. Rather than let consumers decide the winners and losers in a free marketplace, this bill attempts to stigmatize plant-based foods by requiring that they be labeled ‘imitation’ to tilt the playing field to benefit conventional meat”.’  SOURCE…

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