2016 Will Be the Year of the Plant Butcher
Janay Laing

I love the creativity, passion and responsiveness of this trend. It’s clear, and now increasingly known that industrial animal production is seriously damaging…from planet, through people, and down to the animals themselves. It’s a filthy, polluting, heartless business. But there are a few thoughts I’m having after reading this that dampen my initial enthusiasm.

1- The land needs animals, and small scale agriculture is no exception. I’m personally more in favor of supporting highly diversified, local, small organic farms — including the meat some might produce, if done humanely and ecologically sustainably. If this became a trend and then a movement it would go a long way to healing the blight created by industrial food production.

2- Agreeing here with the sentiment voiced by others: if you don’t want to eat meat, why pretend to eat it at all? I never got that. I was a vegetarian for the earlier part of my life, in an era when it was still considered very odd. I was a chef in one of my state’s (Maine) first veggie restaurants, and went on to become a fairly, if locally, popular vegetarian and vegan chef. That was ages ago, but I remember one or two tastings of an ersatz meat product and how stupid the entire exercise felt. I know we’ve learned loads since then about producing better textures, flavors and processing…but in the end it’s still about dressing up vegetables as meat. Why???

3- I get the “secret sauce” factor, and also protection of IP for all the research and testing that’s gone into this range of products. But the consumer has a right to know, and in the case of wheat gluten or ground nuts, the consumer MUST be told.

It goes father for me than ingredients though.

I want to know the carbon and water footprints of the entire cultivation, transport and processing chain of events…and how that compares to the better studied supply chain impacts of meat production and provisioning. Only then can we make educated decisions about whether fake meat has a lighter footprint than animal protein.

Let’s be enthusiastic, appreciative, encouraging and open. But let’s not be naïve.