Could big companies help boost 'flexitarianism'?

Impossible Burger photo
© Bull City Burger and Brewery

From blending beef with mushrooms, to boosting plant-based menu items, companies are doing a lot to cut back on meat.

Earlier this week, when I wrote about Ikea's impressive new sustainability push, I noted that it was cool to see a commitment to more plant-centric eating among the more traditional clean energy, efficiency and waste goals we are used to from corporate responsibility efforts.

What's interesting, however, is that Ikea are not alone. From Sonic's half-beef, half-mushroom burger to White Castle's Impossible Slider, a growing number of companies appear to be recognizing the goal of reducing meat consumption as being just another logical action point in a quest for more sustainable practices.

A few more examples that recently caught my eye:

Alongside promoting a 'climate positive' burger—complete with ambitious offsets that stretch beyond 'net zero'—Fast Company reports that Swedish burger chain Max Burger is also committed to growing its plant-based food options. In fact, sales have increased 900% in the past two years. (The chain is also on track to ensure that every other meal will be made from something other than beef by 2022.)

The Guardian reports that UK supermarket Sainsbury's is also looking to reach beyond the committed vegans, by selling realistic meat analogs (specifically burgers and ground 'beef' from Danish supplier Naturli) in the chiller right alongside actual animal-based meats. While it may seem like a small step, I do think there's something to be said about not separating plant-based options into their own, specialist niche—they are, after all, a suitable and more healthy option for all of us consumers, whether or not we are ready to go 100% vegan.

And finally, KFC's UK arm is, apparently, also experimenting with a plant-based version of its famous fried chicken recipe. No word about if or when it's likely to come to the States though. Also no word on what this mystery 'chicken' will be made of.

None of these initiatives are, by themselves, going to change the world. But if cutting out meat and dairy really is the single biggest thing we can do for a more sustainable planet, then we need as many people as possible starting down that path. Call me a cynic, but I think we have a lot more hope—at least initially—of convincing the general public to eat less meat and dairy, than we do of an overnight switch to living 100% vegan. Meeting people where they are, especially in fast food eateries with highly processed meat, seems like a winning scenario for beginning to cut back on society's excessive consumption of animal products.

Could big companies help boost 'flexitarianism'?
From blending beef with mushrooms, to boosting plant-based menu items, companies are doing a lot to cut back on meat.

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