The fake meat debate is only outshone by the not milk/mylk hullabaloo.
Gone are the days when all you could get in the name of vegan food was the side salad minus the house dressing or french fries (often fried in the same fat as meat), so yeah—only limp iceberg leaves with a few begrudgingly added pale tomatoes and cucumber pieces. Carrots, if you’re lucky!
Now, apart from the plethora of vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants, multiple meat-based food chains, notably fast food places are offering vegan alternatives, KFC being the latest to jump on the bandwagon.
My friend and colleague, Robert Busch wrote this article recently, KFC & Burger King offering Fake Meat—Yay or Nay?, where he begins with: Fake meat: delicious alternative or disgusting processed food?
Hmmm, let’s start by not calling it fake meat. Let’s call it a plant-based alternative. Since we are talking about accuracy in labeling, let’s also say cow burger, pig thigh cut, hen period, mammary secretions, and so on—you get my point.
Dissecting further, I do like “delicious alternative.” Why? Because it is accurate. It is delicious, and it is an alternative to killing and suffering.
Disgusting processed food? Processed—yes. Disgusting, no. On second thought, that can be an opinion. So, okay, maybe disgusting for some. Still, no clue, why.
Ah, disgusting processed food reminds me that all the “regular” items at these fast-food joints are disgusting processed food too. So why go after the plant-based options? Too much threat to the status quo?
I love what Robert writes because he is honest, logical, solution-oriented, from a place of analytical observations, instead of an emotional review, which sadly vegans can do as much as the flesh-eaters. And the most impressive thing is that he is not a vegan himself, yet. He is aware of his choices and is open to trying compassionate, eco-friendly, sustainable food options that are also healthy (or in some cases not, but good health is anyway a side effect, not the objective of being vegan).
I highly recommend reading the article, especially if you are vegan-curious or completely new to the idea of plant-based food and meats. So grateful that a (still) non-vegan person presented the sides of the fake meat debate.
Now for me, the “rigid vegan.”
I personally wouldn’t go since I also care about my health, and when I have an opportunity to support fully vegan businesses, I’d rather do that than take my business to a primarily meat-oriented business.
Having said that, I am glad that KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and others have taken the first step toward being an inclusive business.
Acknowledging the market demands and seeking the first-mover advantage. For them, it’s probably the market and financial goals that have driven this change. Despite all of this, the fact remains, some animals will be saved, more people will try.
1. It is an opportunity for vegan-curious people to try a plant-based item in a nonthreatening, familiar place.
2. It will start conversations. It already has. Check out the Twitter storm. Yes, there will be those who will mock, troll, or outright diss the move. That’s okay. It’s part of the conversation. They have something to say because it is occupying some brain space and causing them to dwell.
3. Inclusive: if a group of young people are hanging out together, they can enjoy without being mocked or bullied.
4. Some places do not have any vegan food, so good to have options.
5. More buyers means more demand. More demand means less killing. More demand means lower prices, thus more accessibility. More demand signals either more people exploring/turning vegan or vegetarian, or maybe people eating less meat. Both situations lead to less killing and suffering.
6. Spreading the message: that there are alternatives, that it is not inaccessible, that it is not elitist, that it is not impossible, that it isn’t a big deal.
While I’m glad to see vegan options in hardcore meat businesses, I (as well as a lot of vegans) would personally not be supporting it.
One non-vegan brand offering good vegan products: Ben & Jerry’s.
Some vegan brands to support: Daiya, So Delicious, Beyond, Silk, Forager, VioLife.