The meatless meat megatrend

 
 The rise of meat-free protein alternatives is a product of the massive wave of more plant-based eating in the U.S. and abroad.

The rise of meat-free protein alternatives is a product of the massive wave of more plant-based eating in the U.S. and abroad.

If you feel like you’ve been hearing more and more about plant-based diets and meat-free meals, it’s not just you. According to The Guardian, clean meat is becoming the new global megatrend to fight climate change.

Other megatrends on the list include more established eco-friendly solutions such as renewable energy and electric cars. But meat-free proteins are reportedly taking off in popularity, thanks to recent high-powered investments, a boom in food tech innovation, and steady growth in conscious consumer demand.

Although we can’t know how many people are currently eating meatless in the U.S., the rise in sales for plant-based alternatives in the past two decades speaks for itself. Continual growth has led the plant-based sector to over $5 billion in annual sales in 2016. With an apparent demand for alternatives that are kinder to the planet, animals, and our own bodies, the meat industry is getting nervous.

 Rapid investment in meat-free food tech companies is a sign of the coming mega-trend.

Rapid investment in meat-free food tech companies is a sign of the coming mega-trend.

Plant-based protein is growing almost, at this point, a little faster than animal-based, so I think the migration may continue in that direction.
— Tyson Foods Founder, Tom Hayes

But it’s also adapting to demand. The Guardian cites investments from corporations such as Tyson Foods, the U.S.’s largest meat processor, as a sign of the clean meat megatrend. These past few years have also seen many corporate mergers between a large animal-based processor and a smaller plant-based one, such as Canadian meat processor Maple Leaf Foods acquiring plant-based Lightlife Foods or food giant Nestle buying out vegan meal company Sweet Earth Foods (both in 2017).

Investments are pouring into food tech startups that focus their energy on crafting high-protein, affordable, delicious no-meat meats that can be used in the meals and recipes people know and love. Companies such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Memphis Meat are using soy and pea protein, wheat protein and heme, and stem cells, respectively, to produce their clean meat patties. With the expansion of the alternative meat industry, conscious consumers can hope to see a more varied selection of alternatives that cater to other dietary restrictions, such as soy-free or gluten-free.

Takeaway: Consumers diverted $5 billion dollars away from the meat and dairy industries last year and saved countless lives and gallons of methane in the process. You can do your part by supporting these climate-friendly companies by shopping for meat alternatives at your grocery store.