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Plant-based meat industry struggles

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Sales of plant-based meat declined by 19.8% this year after receiving criticism from experts and consumers. 

Plant-based meat has once been a popular meat-free alternative. Made of vegan ingredients including soy, peas, and wheat, they aim to imitate the meat in both appearance and nutrition. In both products, the level of fat content is similar since it was able to correspond the macronutrients to those of real meat. This diet gained popularity among many people who looked for healthier, more efficient, and more environment-friendly meat alternatives. 

However, the plant-based meat industry is receiving criticism nowadays. Experts and consumers have criticized the meat substitute despite its advantages, such as its lower cholesterol levels compared to those of animal-based meat. Studies have shown that plant-based meat excludes some vital nutrients found in meat due to its highly processed nature. For example, soybean protein, the main protein source in the substitute, does not contain the essential amino acids necessary for the growth of young children. The disadvantages have outweighed the advantages. 

Nevertheless, even with absent nutritional value, some consumers were still willing to eat the plant-based meat. One of the vital factors that held them back was the significantly high cost of the alternative compared to that of real meat. According to the data by The Good Food Institute, plant-based meat is almost twice the expense of animal-based meat. When regular ground beef per pound costs $5.49, an alternative for that costs $9.99. 

Plant-based meat is also served at SIS for those who request the alternative since the normal lunch menu does not have vegan options. One of the staff members who requested an alternative for school lunch, Phoebe Borst, a vegetarian teacher in SIS, shared her experience with plant-based meat.  

“I think it depends on how it has been processed. Some plant-based meat with minimal processing can taste really delicious, but I think the more additives that are put into the plant-based meat probably take away from some of the nutritional value that one would focus on from a normal animal-based meat,” Ms. Borst said. “So in terms of flavor, I know companies can do a lot to enhance flavor but then it is like, ‘Are they almost negating the nutritional value of what the plant-based meat is supposed to do?’” 

It is not only the people who follow a plant-based diet that contributes to the low sales. The disapproval of plant-based meat from meat eaters is also a crucial factor that restrains the number of sales. 

“I personally don’t want to try plant-based meat, because I feel like it is going to be unappetizing,” Hannah Kim (10) said. “Since I know what plants taste like, I can’t imagine the taste of the meat that is made out of plants. This unfamiliarity holds me back from eating plant-based meat.”

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About the Contributor
Taerin Kim
Taerin Kim, Reporter
Taerin Kim is a sophomore reporter of Tiger Times Online. In her free time, she likes to play guitar and watch TV shows, especially in the genre of comedy. If you have any TV show recommendations, please don’t hesitate to approach her! 

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