Multiple meat companies are creating ‘blended’ products like burgers, meatballs, and sausages – which all contain vegetables too.
According to AP, the reason giants like Tyson, Applegate, and Perdue Farms are adding these plant-foods to meat products is to assuage consumer fears over the impact meat has on the planet and human health.
‘Eat less meat for the planet’
Environmental organization Greenpeace USA has previously called on Americans to reduce their meat intake, saying: “The research is clear – a diet heavy in meat increases the risk of obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
“But it also makes the planet sick. The livestock sector – raising cows, pigs, and chickens – generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined. Cattle ranchers have clear cut millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural ‘carbon sinks’.
“We’re not advocating that everyone adopt a ‘meatless’ diet tomorrow. But we all must develop ‘meat consciousness’ and reduce the level of meat in our diets.”
Greenpeace is not alone in calling on consumers to eat fewer animals. Last year, the United Nations said agriculture and food production generates 37 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – and reducing meat will help.
Last year Tyson Foods, the largest meat producer in the U.S, launched its ‘Raised and Rooted’ range of products, which features items like a beef burger bulked out with pea protein, which it says makes it healthier and more sustainable than a standard patty.
Speaking at the launch, Justin Whitmore, Tyson’s executive vice president of alternative proteins and chief sustainability officer, said: “I think if you look at the shape of the demand that’s happening in alternative protein, you’re seeing a lot of it’s being driven by consumers who like meat – and consumers who will continue to eat meat as part of their diets.”
This type of product has also been seen in the UK: last year, budget retailer Aldi started selling patties made from beef and beans, branding them ‘flexitarian’.
Meat companies describe consumers who opt for these types of products as ‘conscientious carnivores’, with Applegate President John Ghingo saying: “People want changes they can make that are pragmatic and help them move the needle.”
But for many vegans, these types of ranges are just a bid to appease customers, without actually making meaningful changes to the global food system. Posting to the Aldi UK Facebook group when the flexitarian burger launched, Laura Paterson, from Nottingham said: “Flexitarian is not a thing. You either eat meat or you don’t. Don’t use Flexitarian as a poxy bit of advertising to flog your products.”