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Key Water Blog

Progressive Agriculture Newsletter: September

The politics of ‘fake’ animal products
Here’s a slightly unpopular opinion: the moral panic about ‘fake’ meat and milk products is a waste of time and effort. There is so much silliness in the debate it’s hard to know where to start and finish, so let’s go with a list.

1. Consumers are not idiots, they know the difference between animal and plant products, and we shouldn’t treat them as idiots.

2. The market opportunity here is selling alternatives for people who want to replace some or all of the meat or dairy products that form a typical range of meal options, whether it be for health or ethical reasons.

3. Nobody is trying to con meat eaters or milk drinkers that plant based substitutes are the real thing. That’s not the point, and it wouldn’t work anyway. The target audience is people making a deliberate choice.

4. The key word here is substitute. When using words like ‘milk’ or ‘meat’, product sellers are trying to give consumers cues about how the plant-based alternative can be used.

5. Too much meat is bad for your health and everyday consumers seeking to reduce their intake slightly is not going to see the end of profitable livestock production.

6. The whole country is not going vegan, we’re not all going to be tricked into eating lentils we think are meat or almonds we think are milk, and it might be nice to have tasty options that aren’t meat, so everyone chillax and focus on stuff that actually matters.
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