Foodservice Footprint F43-Comment-Meatless Is fake meat the real deal Comment  Teh Good Food Institute Sue Dibb news-email Meat Free Mark Driscoll Forum for the Future Food Ethics Council Eating Better Dan Crossley Bruce Friedrich

Is fake meat the real deal

Should burger bars and the foodservice sector at large start embracing new and improving meat-free products? Footprint asks experts for their views.

Let’s not get carried away. “Offering tasty, nutritious and sustainably produced food is a ‘must’, not a ‘nice to have’. In today’s world, big burger chains need to think long and hard about their menus. There are strong arguments for why restaurants and takeaways should encourage and provide opportunities for meat-eaters to eat ‘less and better’ meat. I’d urge caution, though, in rushing towards ‘fake’ meat as the answer to all society’s problems. It’s too early to judge the health and environmental impacts versus real meat. Chains, though, should be offering more plantbased options, on top of cutting portion sizes and doing more to tackle food waste.”

Dan Crossley, executive director, Food Ethics Council

Be prepared for the flexitarian shift. “There are two key signals which indicate a revolution in plantbased eating over the next decade. The first is the rise of the flexitarian diet. People across ages and social classes are cutting down on meat, spurred on by a much greater awareness of the health and environmental issues of meat-eating, as well as by ethics. The second is the product revolution: new products based on algae, nuts, pulses and other crops are emerging and entering the market in the US and Europe. These signals are having an impact. Last year Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the US, invested heavily in the alternative protein startup Beyond Meat. This is a sign of things to come and burger chains must be prepared for this: they need to look at providing new and novel meat alternatives at a taste and a price that is going to satisfy consumer needs, while benefiting the health of people and planet.”

Mark Driscoll, head of food, Forum For The Future, 

Make meatless the easy choice. “Fast food tends to serve some of the least sustainably produced foods, which also happen to be the foods that are most damaging to public health. But people aren’t thinking about those things when they eat at McDonald’s or KFC. People are choosing fast food because it’s tasty, cheap, and convenient – the same three reasons that govern almost all consumer food choice. If we’re going to improve our food system, healthy, sustainable, climatefriendly options need to become the easiest choice, and the fast-food industry has a great opportunity to make that happen by including plant-based options on the menu.”

Bruce Friedrich, executive director, the Good Food Institute

Businesses are missing a trick. “There is huge value in McDonald’s and other burger chains offering their customers delicious non-meat alternatives to regular burgers. With flexitarian and vegan eating the new trends, especially for younger people, companies are missing a trick if they aren’t providing tasty non-meat alternatives. Companies have a responsibility to help customers eat more healthily and reduce the greenhouse gas impacts of their diets. Furthermore, providing meatless burgers on menus helps create a norm for the acceptance of eating less meat.”

Sue Dibb, coordinator, Eating Better