Page 9 - Barbecue News Magazine SEPT 2020
P. 9

Until recently the mass market animal meat industry and the al- ternative plant-based and laboratory-grown meat industry have moved along on parallel paths—aware of each other, with little or no collaboration or dialogue other than at meat science confer- ences and investments of several million dollars in plant-based research initiatives by a few animal meat industry giants.
The Pandemic Crack
Today’s worldwide pandemic put a crack in our animal meat cul- ture comfort zone. It didn’t halt consumer demand for animal meat. In fact, some areas had a run on meat that rivaled the run on toilet paper. Supply caught up with demand except for occa- sional “out of stock” notices. Yet, news that, as reported in Busi- ness Insider, more than 11,000 workers in several major packing plants contracted the coronavirus and 48 died did not inspire con- sumer trust in animal meat, especially as COVID-19-related hos- pitalizations and deaths escalated in the general population.
The corona virus’ rapid spread, tragic death toll and collateral damage is causing major economic disruptions, massive unem- ployment and a major threat to our way of life. Although there hasn’t been a sudden shift to alternative meats, the consumer trust crack is wider. Enter vegan-friendly easy-fix alternative meat products to fill the gap.
Consumers are the deciders
Arguments for eating animal meat and against eating animal meat are substantive, and given the values, logic and world view from which they stem, both arguments are compelling. The words
of Sacred Cow author/advocate/film producer/Registered Dieti- cian Diana Rodgers and Associate Director of the Good Food In- stitute’s Science & Technology Team Dr. Liz Specht are more challenging to digest than a wood fire grilled plant-based ImpossibleTM Burger. However, the future of animal meat versus alternative meats will not be decided by words. Consumers will be the deciders. Consciously or subconsciously consumers will choose meats that are perceived to deliver the greatest reward for the least cost. Whether or not real barbecue is highly valued by consumers is up to us in this now or never period of food history. It is well to take note that while we’ve been content to think of vegan cuisine as “tofu bland,” upscale vegan cuisine is smashing that stereotype with style and variety that can get a “Wow!” from the hardest core of the barbecue faithful. Of course, it doesn’t taste like real barbecue, although I’ll admit to tasting some smoked and seasoned pulled Jack Fruit that tasted remarkably similar to barbecue pulled pork.
A modest proposal
Polarizing incendiary monologues on the future of food produc- tion, distribution and consumption won’t work. Let’s seriously lis- ten to factory farm advocates and sustainable farming advocates, as well as experts who truly believe that today’s omnivore diet will soon be eclipsed by vegan and cultivated meat diets. And let’s make sure that as the vegan transition happens, food and flavor scientists accept the challenge of developing barbecue-friendly plant-based meats. If we don’t speak up now and get a place at the table, we could lose our ribs! By setting aside our differences and leveraging what we have in common, tomorrow’s barbecue will resonate with our primal DNA as easy as 1-2-3!
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