On 19 January, Bloomberg contributor Deena Shanker penned the now infamous piece, “Fake Meat Was Supposed to Save the World. It Became Just Another Fad,” making vegan blood boil throughout the industry.
“Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods wanted to upend the world’s $1 trillion meat industry. But plant-based meat is turning out to be a flop,” stated the piece, and controversy immediately ensued. The article based itself solely on Beyond and Impossible, and was not representative of the industry as a whole, argued many in the business.
In a letter of response, VWS founder Jennifer Stojkovic retaliated along these same lines. “If you’re going to make the assertion that plant-based proteins are a fad based on stock performance, you should take Big Meat’s poor performance into consideration as well. And, let’s be honest, if we’re talking about the long game, the markets won’t take too kindly to stocks affected by the never-ending pandemics, droughts, and inevitable meat shortages to come.”
“While a Beyond Burger may not be a healthier alternative to a lentil patty, nobody is eating lentil patties. Americans eat “ultra processed” food every day – most of which are meat or dairy products. In fact, four of the top five selling meat products in America are ultra-processed meats,” she pointed out, quite pertinently.
The following Sunday, January 22nd, Impossible Foods, unable to sit on its hands for longer, kicked back with a blog post putting forward its case, with the provocative title to match that of the original, “Bloomberg was supposed to report the facts. It became just another opinion piece“.
“Across several pages rife with one-sided anecdotes and editorialized framing, the story works hard to create a misperception that plant-based meat, once celebrated for its significant environmental potential, has nowhere to go but down. The reporting is scarce of any data to support its position,” scathed the plant meat giant.
A live debate
In a surprise move, Deena Shanker will join Jennifer on the stage for a live debate at The Vegan Women Summit in New York on May 19th, moderated by Rachel Konrad, industry veteran formerly of Impossible Foods.
Says Konrad of the upcoming event: “In the past half decade, journalists have spread the word that the fastest, easiest way to decarbonize Earth is to shrink the land, water and energy footprint of agriculture. Whether you like it or not, media coverage influences which startups get funding, the speed with which policymakers push incentives (and lobbyists respond to them), and whether consumers try new products. Media coverage matters.”