Over the last couple of years, the news coverage about plant-based meats has been deafening at times. It’s all the rage. It’s the future of protein. It will end animal consumption within 10 years. Is there any evidence of that happening? Last year, when the COVID fear was at its worst and the meat aisle had been decimated by concerned shoppers, do you know what was left? Plant-based meats. In my local stores, that part of the refrigerated case was in pristine condition – maybe a few packages moved around, but plenty of smushed-pea protein burgers to go around. Meanwhile, you couldn’t find a package of ground beef if your life depended on it.

In fact, meat consumption rose significantly last year, even amid all the shortages. Meat consumption may rise and fall slightly from one year to the next, but there has not been a massive exodus to plant-based meats or vegetarianism. It’s still a lingering fear among some in the industry though. Just this week, a couple of Midwest senators proposed a bill that would ban any “Meatless Mondays” regulations among federal employees. No such legislature had been proposed, but why let facts get in the way of a public relations ploy?

Nobody is coming to steal away the nation’s chicken nuggets or steaks. Big Veg isn’t collaborating with the government to outlaw barbecues. If a couple of politicians or public figures declare that they are vegetarians or vegans, don’t attack them or call them misinformed. Wish them well – with the vitamin deficiencies they’re going to experience, they’re probably going to need it. The point is, many of these public declarations about plant-based meats or meatless meals are a ploy to get a reaction from the meat industry. Don’t give them what they want. Keep selling what you sell, keep touting the benefits of meat, fish and poultry, keep talking about your victories in humane animal handling, sustainable packaging or nutrition. Keep working to make the meat industry as good as it can possibly be, and the nation’s omnivores will remain your customers.

Sam Gazdziak