Canada's Biggest Meat Brand Goes (A Bit) Vegetarian

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©. Fieldroast Meat Company

It's not only Tyson that's looking to hedge its bets with vegetarian meat and dairy analogs.

When Tyson Foods invested in a "bloody veggie burger" company, some readers suggested they were trying to shut down competition. Yet if my experience with their plant-based bratwurst is anything to go by, Beyond Meat continues to go from strength-to-strength.

Now we might have another test case of Big Meat investing in Big Processed Pea Protein. (Or something like that...)

Canada's Maple Leaf Foods—one of the largest packaged meat companies in the country—has just launched a subsidiary called Greenleaf Foods. (Website coming soon.) According to FoodBev Media, the new company will function as a wholly-owned, independently operated entity headquartered in Chicago. It will build on a series of recent acquisitions by Maple Leaf Foods which has included the Field Roast Grain Meat Company—makers of a vegan 'cheese' that I didn't hate—and Lightlife Foods, which focuses on vegan ready meals.

I'm sure there will be those who decry the launch as nothing but an attempt to subvert and corrupt the movement for plant-based eating, but I think that's a little reductive. Given other signs of a societal shift toward flexitarian ways, companies who specialize in animal-based products would do well to diversify their portfolio.

It's worth noting, too, that Maple Leaf Foods talks a good game about reducing its overall environmental footprint 50% by 2025. Most research I've read suggests that, while there are opportunities for improvement, there are limits to how far animal agriculture can really clean up. Meanwhile the new breed of plant-based alternatives are reporting impressive environmental credentials.

For Big Meat to meet its goals, it might need to meet vegetarians halfway. (Sorry!)