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Are we really ready for alternative protein revolution?

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

The path towards veganism through accessibility is the only way towards mass adoption of plant based diets. I made a switch to a vegan diet four years ago after I tried a plant based burger at a fast food chain. I thought if this is possible, then there's no need to consume animals. Low quality protein tastes similar either it is grown in a lab, in a field or from an animal. The difference is only a matter of taste and perception. Veganism was gradual and successful transition and sustainability was a major one. I read reports on animal agriculture impact on greenhouse emissions and this was an easy way to contribute to reduction in carbon emissions on an individual level for me. In the four years time, I have not observed a wide scale adoption of veganism by consumers or an expansion of plant based products in the fast food and restaurant industry. It's like nobody is really trying to implement any change. Yes, there is a plant based burger here and there sprinkled on a menu but overall if a North American consumer is driving on his 15 minute lunch break, he needs a quick fix and that isn't widely available. Vegan food is still seen as elitist and inaccessible. It will leave you hungry and desperate for sustenance minutes after consumption. In the business world, there is a lot of buzz and VC investment in lab grown meat, plant based meat, fake eggs, fake fried chicken. If you look at the roster of individuals working at alternative protein companies it is scientists and biologists. They have no sales teams, no strategy, marketing is there but it is all branding for their next Venture Capitalist. Who are these products for? The average consumer is grossed out at the prospect of eating protein grown in a lab. Why isn't there a push to change the sentiment of the consumer so the adoption of these alternative proteins comes naturally? The establishment of the robust Animal Agriculture industry became even more evident to me after a visit to every corner of California this summer. Taco trucks, fast food joints, restaurants in every corner of the state are dominated by meat. In fact, I had to self cater with canned beans in order to eat. California is supposed to be the gold standard of healthy eating in North America and it was an utter disappointment. Veganism remains elitist, available at inaccessible restaurants in big cities.

So if the goal is to shift consumer habits and tastes away from animal proteins, these sexy alt-protein companies are not even close. Sure they've got a proof of concept, but the journey ahead of them involves mass production, consumption, scale, meat subsidies, farming. Not to mention the fight against Big Beef, Chicken, Pork, Escargot, Pharmaceutical industry, governments, policy and the biggest fight of all, the consumer entitlement and taste for that big hunk of animal protein on their plate.

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