Plant-Based Burgers Aren’t Denting Our Beef Addiction

4 days ago 36

Another way to figure out the impact plant-based meats are having is to look at how price changes impact the demand for various kinds of meat. A study of retail data from a couple of years ago showed that when the price of plant-based meats went down, demand for them went up, but when the price of animal meats fluctuated, demand for those products didn’t fluctuate as widely. The study also found that rather than displacing red meat, plant-based meats tended to be bought alongside beef and pork and usually seemed to be a substitute for chicken, turkey, and fish—which have a much lower carbon footprint than beef. All of this suggests that on the whole, people see beef as a mainstay of their dinner plates, while other forms of protein can come and go.

To Blaustin-Rejto, the data suggests that most people are using plant-based meats as an extra source of protein rather than a direct replacement for meat. “It seems that it’s people who aren’t eating much meat who are turning to these products,” he says. But the average American eats over 80 pounds of beef every year—plant-based meats would need to put a dent in that figure to have a positive environmental impact.

Blaustin-Rejto is optimistic over the longer term. In the US, plant-based burger patties are 65 percent more expensive than their animal-based equivalents. Survey data suggests that if the price of a beef burger and a plant-based patty were equal, about 20 to 30 percent of people would choose the plant-based option. If ...

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