altThere was an interesting conversation around my dining room table recently. My dad was there for lunch, and he made the comment he was hungry because he hadn’t eaten breakfast.

He planned to grab a bite that morning while feeding cows, but he changed his mind when he saw the sign advertising the new fake meat options at the local fast food joint.

“Well, we’re never eating there again,” my husband Bill chimed in. “This is cattle country.”

I hate to tell my father and husband, but plant-based, meat-like substances are here to stay – even in cattle country.

Plant-based products are quickly making their way into grocery stores and fast-food chains across the country.

In 2016, Whole Foods became the first retailer to sell Beyond Meat “burgers,” and it quickly became the top-selling packaged “burger” in Southern California, according to Ethan Brown, chief executive officer and co-founder of Beyond Meat.

I see television commercials for Beyond Meat products, as well as other brands, promoting these plant-based foods more than ever, yet very little, if anything, prompting the animal agriculture industry. The iconic deep, gravely, Southern drawl of actor Sam Elliott saying “Beef… It’s whats for dinner,” has been absent from the airways for decades. What happened to our professional athletes sporting milk mustaches, asking the question, “Got milk?” Any given day, an estimated 80 percent of all U.S. consumers came into contact with that question, according to an article published on the website

Who does Beyond Meat have pitching its product? Rapper Snoop Dogg and the company, which started in 2009, is making billions. Among those Brown counts as investors/partners in his company are the Humane Society of the United States, Bill Gates and the University of Missouri.

We say consumers are simply uneducated when it comes to real meat vs. the fake stuff, but what are we doing to educate them? How are we sharing agriculture is not causing climate change and animals are not being tortured for the sake of a dollar?

Unfortunately, self-promotion and consumer education is an area where the agriculture industry, I feel, is lacking. We have many great organizations working to promote U.S. agricultural products around the world, but are we missing the boat here at home?

Beyond Meat is not the only company looking to get into the meat-free meat market.

Tyson Foods purchased a 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat in 2016 but sold its shares in April 2019 to make its own plant-based products. It’s since launched Raised & Rooted, a line of products which includes vegan meat alternatives, as well as ones that blend meat and plant-based protein. Tyson also recently announced its venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures, is investing in a plant-based shrimp company called New Wave Foods to crate plant-based “shrimp” from plants such as seaweed and soy protein.

MorningStar Farms, which is owned by Kellogg, launched a line of “ready-to-cook plant-based burgers” and fully prepared plant-based “Chik’n” tenders and nuggets.

The supermarket chain Kroger has plans for a line of plant-based products called Simple Truth, pitching plant-based burgers, cookie dough, pasta sauce, sausage, deli slices and more. Kroger also sells Just Egg, a plant-based liquid egg substitute made from mung beans.

Conagra and Hormel Foods are also joining the bandwagon.

Fake meat his here to stay, but livestock producers must find a way to keep a foothold with consumers. If we don’t, we could be replaced someday.

Meanwhile, I will stick to being a second-hand vegetarian, and keep real beef, pork and poultry on my table.


Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]


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