When Reality Meats Corporate America

 

Washington Post columnist Helaine Olen ran an interesting column this week on the falling demand for fake meat that held an interesting tidbit worth exploring. She explained,

Sales of plant-based meats in the United States are down by more than 10 percent from this time last year. The issue is basic: The problems fake meat were meant to solve — from the climate impact of industrial farming to the health impacts of meat — are all too real, but the solution it offers appeals to far fewer consumers than expected.

This disconnect between our elites in corporate America with the needs and wants of the rest of the country is behind so many intensely costly mistakes: the decision to remove elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus because of the influence of animal welfare activists, the Target bathroom debacle, the repudiation of guns on the part of Dick’s Sporting Goods… The list goes on, and these three decisions alone have cost these companies untold wads of cash.

This bending of the knee to the liberal political winds of the day, in conflict with their own bottom line, is inexplicable in a capitalist system. What could the incentive possibly be here for companies if it’s not profit?

I’m curious to hear from Ricochet members why this is, and how companies can so blindly light their profits on fire in exchange for a bit of positive press.

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  1. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    So tried an Impossible Burger. Ugh. Even the dog would not eat it. 

    • #1
  2. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    Government influence. Hoping it will go upstream from their organization and knowing that it can come downstream in retribution (canceling grants, subsidies, eeoc exams, all kinds of stuff.) This is a gangster relationship nit capitalism. Corporate medicine post ObamaCare  prime example #1. 

    • #2
  3. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    It could be that the corporations have convinced themselves that the concerns of their Very Online 20-something brand-manager caste are also the concerns of the actual population.

    • #3
  4. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    navyjag (View Comment):

    So tried an Impossible Burger. Ugh. Even the dog would not eat it.

    Try a turkey burger – often with feta and spinach. My husband loves them and gets them on the menu at a local bistro. I buy from a local meat market and freeze for home.  Easy as pie to cook in non-stick pan with butter (no fat and they stick.) 

    • #4
  5. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    The problems fake meat were meant to solve — from the climate impact of industrial farming to the health impacts of meat — are all too real.

    They’re not.

    Arguably, creating fake meat from chemicals in a lab is worse for climate change, if you care about that cult. And I don’t.

    And the main health issues regarding meat in one’s diet is the “lack of.”

    • #5
  6. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    I like turkey so will try it.  The dog also likes turkey.  Should go down with no problem. 

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    navyjag (View Comment):

    So tried an Impossible Burger. Ugh. Even the dog would not eat it.

    Long ago, a vegetarian friend when I lived in Oregon expressed an interest in trying some “meat substitute” products.  I got some kind of vegetarian “hot dogs” for use at an outdoor gathering/picnic by a sci-fi group we belonged to.  He gobbled them down like they were manna from heaven.  I thought they were disgusting.

    • #7
  8. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EODmom (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    So tried an Impossible Burger. Ugh. Even the dog would not eat it.

    Try a turkey burger – often with feta and spinach. My husband loves them and gets them on the menu at a local bistro. I buy from a local meat market and freeze for home. Easy as pie to cook in non-stick pan with butter (no fat and they stick.)

    Why not just use leaner beef instead?  The flavors are not comparable.  People used to tell me that frozen yogurt tasted just like ice cream; they were wrong too.

    Some time ago I tried Hormel turkey chili.  It was awful.

    • #8
  9. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I was confused for a moment by the reference to “plant-based meats.”

    All meats are plant-based, aren’t they?  I love plant-based meats, especially from grain-fed Nebraska cattle.

    • #9
  10. She Member
    She
    @She

    As with most things in my life, I don’t feel pressured to conform for the sake of conformity.

    That being said, and because of my late husband’s weird dietary restrictions (dangerous allergies), I have spent decades of my life investigating alternatives to traditional eats.   During those decades, I’ve spent rather more time than I’d have liked among the offerings of what my late stepson used to refer to as the “cardboard food company.”  Don’t ask.  Because I can overwhelm you with detail, if you insist.

    My conclusion to all of this is that there are edible alternatives to all sorts of things, and that while we may feel ourselves obliged to investigate them with respect to keeping our loved one’s alive, none of us should be forced down a path to them because of political considerations.  Our first duty should be to ourselves, and that duty should be to eat as responsibly and healthily as is possible.

    Off to investigate dinner options!  Tonight, they range from steak with onions and mushrooms to (large) shrimp and rice.

    • #10
  11. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    kedavis (View Comment):

    EODmom (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    So tried an Impossible Burger. Ugh. Even the dog would not eat it.

    Try a turkey burger – often with feta and spinach. My husband loves them and gets them on the menu at a local bistro. I buy from a local meat market and freeze for home. Easy as pie to cook in non-stick pan with butter (no fat and they stick.)

    Why not just use leaner beef instead? The flavors are not comparable. People used to tell me that frozen yogurt tasted just like ice cream; they were wrong too.

    Some time ago I tried Hormel turkey chili. It was awful.

    It’s like dark Vs milk chocolate. Personal preference. (I vote dark…) I don’t care for the turkey burger but can enjoy well prepared turkey roasted. (It might be the mashed white and gravy, tho too.) He just likes turkey. I make some turkey dishes that are ok- mostly with Mexican seasoning.  Turkey takes the bold chilies well. I made a King Ranch casserole that was quite tasty. But how can you go wrong with cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, Rotel tomatoes, buncha different green chilies and blue corn tortillas all hot and gooey in a casserole. Everyone loved it. 

    • #11
  12. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    I think there’s a couple of possibilities. The very online hysterical group is very loud and good at being loud and hysterical. And if a message is repeated often and with enough force, human nature tells us people will start to believe it (present company of independent-thinkers excluded, naturally). So maybe these companies are trying to get ahead of what they believe will be the inevitable vilification of meat/beef/chicken/pork farming and harvesting. Look at how many people bought into the lie about abortion, or feminism, or recycling or green energy…repeat it enough couched in scary life-threatening terms and people will begin to believe it.

    Second, maybe these companies believe the government — the entity that wields outsize power over consumer “choices” will have something to say in the matter and it’s better to be on the government’s good side in the long run and lose some money in the short run.

    • #12
  13. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Bethany Mandel: I’m curious to hear from Ricochet members why this is, and how companies can so blindly light their profits on fire in exchange for a bit of positive press.

    I have said in comments here on Ricochet more than once during the Covid pandemic that a problem I have with free-market capitalism is the unqualified goal of profit. My argument was based on the fact that as a Christian I would not support a corporate position pushing the continuation of revenues derived from delivering products that are known to be harmful to consumers.

    Maybe the corporations you are mentioning here consider government in the same way that I am viewing my Christian religion.

    • #13
  14. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    It could be that the corporations have convinced themselves that the concerns of their Very Online 20-something brand-manager caste are also the concerns of the actual population.

    I think that’s about right…

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    It could be that the corporations have convinced themselves that the concerns of their Very Online 20-something brand-manager caste are also the concerns of the actual population.

    I think that’s about right…

    There are major cultural gaps that people have not shown they know how to play.

    • #15
  16. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    The problems fake meat were meant to solve — from the climate impact of industrial farming to the health impacts of meat — are all too real.

    They’re not.

    Arguably, creating fake meat from chemicals in a lab is worse for climate change, if you care about that cult. And I don’t.

    And the main health issues regarding meat in one’s diet is the “lack of.”

    Exactly. Why I’ve learned to scroll down prior to commenting.

    • #16
  17. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    JennaStocker(View Comment):

    I think there’s a couple of possibilities. The very online hysterical group is very loud and good at being loud and hysterical. And if a message is repeated often and with enough force, human nature tells us people will start to believe it (present company of independent-thinkers excluded, naturally). So maybe these companies are trying to get ahead of what they believe will be the inevitable vilification of meat/beef/chicken/pork farming and harvesting. Look at how many people bought into the lie about abortion, or feminism, or recycling or green energy…repeat it enough couched in scary life-threatening terms and people will begin to believe it.

    Second, maybe these companies believe the government — the entity that wields outsize power over consumer “choices” will have something to say in the matter and it’s better to be on the government’s good side in the long run and lose some money in the short run.

    This puts me in mind of when Mark Steyn’s book, “ America Alone” first came out. I went to my local Borders bookstore and had great difficulty finding it. ( Dozens of copies of books by leftist/liberal authors and politicians were readily available and also being promoted at that bookstore.) I thought it was because “America Alone” was a best-seller and therefore difficult to keep in stock, but maybe something different was at play, because…

    Fast forward several years and Mr. Steyn’s follow-up book, “ After America”, is published. I obtained a copy, again with great difficulty. A few days later, I was reading one of Mark Steyn’s articles on his website, in which he joked that Borders was so worried about having to carry “ After America” on its shelves that they took the precaution of going out of business. 😎

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    It could be that the corporations have convinced themselves that the concerns of their Very Online 20-something brand-manager caste are also the concerns of the actual population.

    Also, are there any businesses these days, even retail businesses, that don’t have an involvement in government contracts, if only at 2nd hand?  I don’t know. I’m asking.

    • #18
  19. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Bethany Mandel: This bending of the knee to the liberal political winds of the day, in conflict with their own bottom line, is inexplicable in a capitalist system. What could the incentive possibly be here for companies if it’s not profit?

    It could very well be that they expected that these products would be profitable.  We are told that over 50% of new businesses fail.  Even successful companies may release a product with high hopes that turns out to be a sales dud.  Listen to Rob Long on various podcasts talk about show business and how impossible it is to tell what movies or shows will be a hit or a miss. 

    When I first saw Croc shoes I though they were the ugliest footwear I had ever seen.  I still cannot believe how popular they are.  Cars with manual transmissions are way more fun to drive than the same cars with automatic transmissions, but the stick shift is a dying breed because 95%+ of motorists don’t want them.  I’m sure 30 years ago when salsa started appearing on American shelves many people said, “Why would I want some crazy Mexican sauce?  We’ve got Heinz Ketchup and that ought to be good enough for anybody.”

    We could all name products that we thought were very good, but failed in the marketplace and examples of the opposite.

    • #19
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I was confused for a moment by the reference to “plant-based meats.”

    All meats are plant-based, aren’t they? I love plant-based meats, especially from grain-fed Nebraska cattle.

    The difference is one trophic level. 

    I would tend to avoid eating animals that eat animals that eat plants, especially animals that eat the brains of animals of their own species.  But I suppose you could call them plant-based, if you wanted to take the term literally.  You could also call them sunlight-based. 

    • #20
  21. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Oops, and I meant to add that’s it’s nice to see you again, Bethany.  What have you been up to?

    • #21
  22. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    navyjag (View Comment):

    So tried an Impossible Burger. Ugh. Even the dog would not eat it.

    I approve of your dog. 

    • #22
  23. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    When I first saw Croc shoes I though they were the ugliest footwear I had ever seen. I still cannot believe how popular they are.

    I don’t care what you say, I wear Crocs (not the real ones, but fake ones that are dirt cheap)  for as long as the Cleveland weather will permit throughout the year.   Yes, they are extremely ugly!  But I don’t like tying shoelaces.  When the weather doesn’t permit Crocs, I don velcro-fastener shoes.  My wife is not impressed.

    • #23
  24. davenr321 Coolidge
    davenr321
    @davenr321

    “What could the incentive possibly be here for companies if it’s not profit?”

    They are run by communists who want to destroy the profit motive, profit, individual choice and so forth. That’s the only thing that seems remotely plausible to me. That would be the food companies.

    The retail outlets like Target and Dick’s are run by Satanists.

     

    • #24
  25. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    davenr321 (View Comment):

    “What could the incentive possibly be here for companies if it’s not profit?”

    They are run by communists who want to destroy the profit motive, profit, individual choice and so forth. That’s the only thing that seems remotely plausible to me. That would be the food companies.

    The retail outlets like Target and Dick’s are run by Satanists.

    Destroying their own profit can only be taken so far.  Eventually, nearly all companies throw out the B.S. and embrace making money again.

     

    • #25
  26. BillJackson Coolidge
    BillJackson
    @BillJackson

    I wonder if every time they do it, they think “we’ll get even more profits, because of all of the good press!” 

    I worry that it’s the result of a new generation of leadership/loudest voices at the corporations who don’t appreciate what they have. That is, maybe a meatpacking company got to be big and successful because it packed meat that people wanted, not by taking social stands.

    Selling meat, and not vague nostrums and tithes to the religion of climate change, is what keeps the business running, no matter how “dirty” it makes those executives feel.

    Dunno, but I worry because I see a similar thing — building something that maybe not everyone wants–  happening soon with the auto industry and its headlong rush toward electric cars. 

    • #26
  27. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Since I might be the only vegan on Ricochet, I’ll just confess that I have eaten an impossible burger.  I decided to quit eating meat, dairy and eggs for health-based reasons, not ethical, animal-rights based reasons.  As I see it, the impossible burger isn’t much healthier than a regular burger.  

    But some of the ethical vegans (ones that don’t care about the health aspect of veganism) that I have interacted with love the impossible burger.  But I wonder how they would do in blind taste test.  

    • #27
  28. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    BillJackson (View Comment):

    I wonder if every time they do it, they think “we’ll get even more profits, because of all of the good press!”

    I worry that it’s the result of a new generation of leadership/loudest voices at the corporations who don’t appreciate what they have. That is, maybe a meatpacking company got to be big and successful because it packed meat that people wanted, not by taking social stands.

    Selling meat, and not vague nostrums and tithes to the religion of climate change, is what keeps the business running, no matter how “dirty” it makes those executives feel.

    Dunno, but I worry because I see a similar thing — building something that maybe not everyone wants– happening soon with the auto industry and its headlong rush toward electric cars.

    Looks like people may be buying a lot more Toyotas and Nissans in the future.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Since I might be the only vegan on Ricochet, I’ll just confess that I have eaten an impossible burger. I decided to quit eating meat, dairy and eggs for health-based reasons, not ethical, animal-rights based reasons. As I see it, the impossible burger isn’t much healthier than a regular burger.

    But some of the ethical vegans (ones that don’t care about the health aspect of veganism) that I have interacted with love the impossible burger. But I wonder how they would do in blind taste test.

    I don’t know if vegans should be the ones doing blind taste tests between real burgers and imitation burgers.

    • #29
  30. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    kedavis (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Since I might be the only vegan on Ricochet, I’ll just confess that I have eaten an impossible burger. I decided to quit eating meat, dairy and eggs for health-based reasons, not ethical, animal-rights based reasons. As I see it, the impossible burger isn’t much healthier than a regular burger.

    But some of the ethical vegans (ones that don’t care about the health aspect of veganism) that I have interacted with love the impossible burger. But I wonder how they would do in blind taste test.

    I don’t know if vegans should be the ones doing blind taste tests between real burgers and imitation burgers.

    There is a vegan restaurant in Indianapolis that has a seitanderloin, a quasi tenderloin made of deep fried seitan.  Seitan is the made from wheat protein, with the fat and carbohydrate removed.  

    One of my friends who is a health based vegan (he had a massive heart attack and gave up meat, diary and eggs the very next day) went to the vegan restaurant, ordered the seitanderloin and enjoyed it.  But when the cook told him that the seitanterloin was deep fried in coconut oil (which is very high in saturated fat), he stopped eating it.  

    Those who sell vegan food shouldn’t expect anyone except a small percentage of people to purchase their products and some of the vegans won’t buy them.  It’s a limited market.  

    • #30
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