Maple Leaf Foods is stepping up to the plate! The sustainability plate that is, by taking a lead role in the expansion and diversification of protein alternatives. According to President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, Michael H. McCain, this is a result of social and environmental changes.

There is no doubt that these social changes include the increasing public knowledge of the cruelties inflicted on farm animals and the demand for healthier food choices. Plant-based eating has been described as the fastest growing lifestyle movement and major meat producers are taking notice.

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Just last year, Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, invested in plant-based protein company Beyond Meat and Pinnacle Foods invested more shares with Gardein. Most recently, Maple Leaf acquired Lightlife Foods, a producer of plant-based products such as tempeh, vegan sausages, and burgers. Maple Foods has also been implementing impressive strategies to reach sustainability dominance over the last few years.

In addition to making a shift to explore more plant-based options, they have also made strides in other areas, such as:

  • Cutting energy use by 27.6 percent, water by 20.9 percent, waste by 8.4 percent and GHG emissions by 33.2 percent since 2015.
  • Launching the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security to advance sustainable food security through advocacy, innovation and knowledge transfer.

While these successes are certainly a step in the right direction, for the one-third of Americans that have taken the step of leaving meat off their plates more plant-based protein options can’t come soon enough. The good news is that more and more meat production companies are starting to view products as “protein” and not “animal meat.” According to Lux Research, meats and seafood are expected to take a back seat in the coming decades while alternative proteins may take on up to 33 percent of the protein market share.

This commitment to expanding protein to include plant-based options is undoubtedly a great move for the planet. In a recent report, Impossible Foods revealed that their meatless burger, that smells, cooks, and “bleeds” like the real thing uses 75 percent less water, 95 percent less land, and produces 87 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a traditional beef patty.

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The bottom line is the industrial animal agriculture system is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet and we need to start shifting away from animal proteins and towards plant-based alternatives, if we want to create a truly sustainable food system that will be able to support our growing population. With this in mind, Maple Leaf’s move to add more protein alternatives is possibly the most impactful thing they can do for their overall sustainability.

This growing trend is a wonderful sign for humanity, animals and the environment as a whole. It is becoming increasingly clear that plant-based protein is no doubt, the future of food.

“Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
-Anna Lappe

To learn more about Maple Leaf’s Sustainability Program, click here.

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Image source: Butternut Squash Burger

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