The Dumbest Argument Against Fake Meat

Impossible Burger photo

Liking the taste and texture of meat doesn't mean you're a hypocrite for not eating it.

From Tyson investing in Beyond Meat's 'bloody' veggie burger to White Castle launching the Impossible Slider, I've been following the mainstreaming of plant-based meat alternatives with considerable interest—not least because research suggests that kicking or reducing our current meat and dairy consumption habits could have a significant impact on the health of the planet.

That said, any time I write about the new breed of meat analogs, I get readers who are skeptical or even downright hostile to the concept. Some of these arguments are worthy of consideration. Many fake meats, for example, are high in sodium and are—pretty much by definition—extremely processed. For folks who are arguing that a plant-based diet is healthier and more 'natural', the pre-packaged, six-squillion ingredient approach to vegetarianism probably isn't that compelling. (This is why Bjorn Oste, co-founder of Oatly, told us that plant-based proteins should still be recognizable as plant-based foods.)

Others simply argue that the case for vegetarianism and veganism is overblown—and that better pasture management could be even more beneficial than ditching animal foods altogether. While my reading on the subject suggests this is a minority view, and not in-keeping with the scientific consensus, there is at least research that these folks can point to—and mainstream science has been wrong in the past.

While I might not agree with them, I have no (sorry!) beef with folks making these arguments. But then there's the line of reasoning that really (sorry, sorry!) gets my goat: Vegetarians who eat fake meat are hypocrites.

When I first heard this particular angle, I must admit I simply scoffed. It was so patently absurd that I didn't deem it worthy of response. And yet I hear it again and again, so I figured it's finally time to offer my two cents. And it's my firm belief and considered opinion that this argument holds absolutely zero water.

Sure, I understand why people might be confused about or surprised by a vegetarian who wants to eat a bloody burger. Indeed, I know many vegetarians who would rather go hungry than go anywhere near such a product for perfectly valid aesthetic and culinary reasoning of their own. But the idea that they can't—morally speaking—eat something that has literally no animal products in it, just because it looks, smells or tastes like it might have animal products in it, is surely just dumb.

After all, the main moral argument for veganism and vegetarianism is not that rutabaga tastes that much better than bacon. Or am I missing something?

That's it. Rant over. I just needed to get that off my chest.