Vegan “Meats” Seem Like The Next Big Thing

Personally, I’m on the fence when it comes to vegan “meat”.

I mean, I understand the urge that some vegetarians and vegans have — the urge to experience the flavors and textures from their meat-eating pasts. But to me, the resemblance between fake-steak and its cow-derived equivalent can be…unsettling.

Then again, for folks who might be open to plant-based diets but don’t want to give up the mouthfeel of being a carnivore, maybe vegan meat is the way to go. That’s the view of two young entrepreneurs in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who are opening America’s first vegan butcher:

Aubry and Kale Walch started a Kickstarter over a year ago, hoping to open their very own local vegan butcher shop, “The Herbivorous Butcher.” The two had spent years perfecting their very own meat-free meats. When the store opens on Jan. 23, the two plan to offer 35 vegan meats, cheeses, and butters.

But it’s not just young, hip types who are getting into the vegan meat biz. Don Thompson, the former CEO of McDonald’s — yes, people: McDonald’s — recently took a seat on the board at Beyond Meat:

Thompson, who served as chief executive for less than three years, had worked at the company for 25. It’s interesting to think about the ways he’ll take his deep knowledge of the fast food industry, and apply it to selling ‘mock meat’ burgers and chicken strips – presumably to a segment of the population unfamiliar with vegan alternatives to popular meat dishes. (When Thompson left McDonald’s in March, he signed a non-compete clause; however, according to the AP, McDonald’s doesn’t classify vegan burgers as competition….)

While it’s not yet clear exactly what Thompson will be doing at Beyond Meat, maybe, just maybe his lengthy experience selling Americans burgers can move the needle in convincing us that it’s possible for a ‘burger’ to be vegan and tasty at the same time.

Am I a little uncomfortable about the head of a company like McDonald’s entering the vegan world? Am I a little concerned that he might bring some of his former employer’s less-ethical, less-sustainable practices to Beyond Meat? Yup and yup.

That said, I can set aside my own qualms and recognize that getting carnivores to eat fake meat — even occasionally — is clearly a step in the right direction.

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