For as long as we’ve had food, meat has been meat, cheese has been cheese, and milk has been milk. But now that a plant-based tidal wave is upon us, those categories have become a little more, well… complicated. As vegan alternatives continue to make elbow room at the table, traditional industries and suppliers are saying “you can’t sit with us”.
To get a better idea of what’s really going on here, it’s probably best that we take a look at the landscape to see why plant-based alternatives are clashing with livestock farmers, the dairy industry, and change-fearing conventionalists that still think all vegans are hippies. Ready or not, the 600% increase in those that identify as vegan in the US over the past three years is a clear indication that this silly fad could actually be a threat for market share. Brands like Almond Breeze, Beyond Meat, The Impossible Burger, and a wave of vegan butcher shops are cashing in. And reaction has been strong.
Let’s start with the dairy industry. Milk sales are down 11% over the past year and dairy is asking the US government and the FDA to take up its cause. Between the DAIRY PRIDE Act and FDA weighing regulation, we’re having an existential crisis about what “milk” actually means. Milk and non-milk beverages will soon have to provide a “standard of identity”.
Some suppliers and juice bars are trying to loophole any potential new laws by adding a ‘y’ to their nut mylks, but derivations likely wouldn’t hold up against a formal FDA ruling. The real question is this: what would you call almond milk if it couldn’t be called milk?
Milk and cheese aren’t alone, though. We’ve already told you about how plant-based burgers—the kind that “bleed” like the real deal—are battling the beef industry. Alternatives made with soy, seitan, and jackfruit are being called imposters, but none can deny their popularity — for instance, A&W seriously underestimated demand Beyond Burger’s debut. And as major hit to the meat industry, and a win for vegans across the US, the FDA finally gave the thumbs up on The Impossible Burger. At least they’re calling it food.
So, it appears that in the not so distant future, we’re likely going to have meat that isn’t allowed to be meat, cheese that isn’t allowed to be cheese, and milk that’s definitely not allowed to be milk. But now that there’s a new avocado in town, too, will classic/basic hass avocado growers be taking up their pitchforks?
To us, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, pour us a glass of that almondade and slide us a beet patty.