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On today’s episode, we have Megan Poinski, Senior Reporter for Food Dive. We talk about plant-based meats.
I was really excited for this conversation. I’m a pescatarian but have been vegetarian off-and-on since I was 16 years old, largely influenced by the punk and indie rock subcultures of the late ‘90s. As I got older, I began to play music myself, eventually jumping into a van to play 20 minutes of music to crowds of 5-45 people on any given night across the country.
The years: 2002 to 2003. To be honest, I can’t remember the diets of everyone but I was definitely a vegetarian and remember another member was vegan. In the early aughts, the number of cheap, fast vegetarian food was hard enough to find, much less vegan food.
There was Taco Bell. Burger King had launched a veggie burger in 2002. Subway had the Veggie Delite. And that was it. Those were the options.
Now, plant-based meat is relatively easy to find. Burger King has upgraded to a deal with Impossible Burger while Carl’s Jr., Dunkin, Del Taco, White Castle, and more are all promoting plant-based meat options.
Because I am out of touch, I don’t know how vibrant the punk DIY touring community is currently, but I can say with certainty that if I was doing that today, I would be thrilled to have all these meat alternative options.
But I also wondered where all these options were two decades ago. Veggie burgers existed. Boca Burgers and Morning Star burgers were all available during that time.
And I realized, these plant-based meat products are not strictly for subcultures. They’re intended for mass consumption. Someone decided there was a mass market for these products and then convinced others of its viability.
I talk with Megan about this in addition to why the term “plant-based” is preferred to “vegan” when promoting these products, what the future looks like for plant-based alternatives, and whether they are actually healthier than the real thing (Spoiler alert: more research is needed).
Here is some of the recent coverage from Food Dive on the plant-based protein movement:
Is plant-based meat really healthier than the real thing? (Here’s the link to the JAMA article it cites)
For further reading/listening:
Animal Rights as Media and Pop Culture Punchline (Citations Needed Podcast)
Is this a healthcare podcast or a culture podcast? Not really sure but I hope you’re enjoying the ride.