The plant-based movement has grown tremendously in the past few years. Due to concerns about the negative health effects of meat consumption, antibiotic use, and animal welfare in the livestock industry, and the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry, consumers are deciding to cut meat and dairy out of their daily diets and eat plant-based instead. In addition, consumers are now gravitating towards brands that are organic, use clean ingredients, and seem wholesome. At the rate that this trend is growing, it cannot be ignored. In fact, even meat companies are shaking in their boots! Recently, shareholders of Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest processors of meat, filed a resolutions report urging the company to make changes to certain environment, social, and governance policies, specifically mentioning the burgeoning plant-based movement and consumer concerns over animal welfare, among other things.
Essentially, Tyson shareholders feel that the company is not staying aligned with consumer concerns. They pointed out the fines Tyson has racked up due to their improper disposal of toxic waste in surrounding waterways (we remember those), their failure to address animal welfare concerns (maybe because they’re terrible?), and last but definitely not least, the fact that “the demand for plant-based protein is skyrocketing.”
Now, we normally would never say this…. but we totally agree with Tyson shareholders! And that’s because the facts speak for themselves. Toxic algal blooms and dead zones reveal the terrible effect improper disposal of toxic waste and manure runoff from factory farm causes on our oceans. We are well aware of the abuse that happens behind closed factory farm doors (video exposés of Tyson employees only reaffirm what we already know). And considering that in 2015, more than 100 plant-based meat substitutes were introduced in grocery stores and analysts say they could make up one-third of the meat market by 2050, we are fully aware of how much consumers are loving plant-based protein!
While we commend Tyson shareholders for at least acknowledging these trends and making an effort to change the company’s practices, let’s not forget that at the end of the day, they are not making these changes for ethical reasons. If they were not fined for their water disposal, they would continue to do it without a second thought. If trends did not reveal that consumers care about animal welfare, they would not bother to do anything to improve the conditions of the animals in their possession. And the only reason they care about plant-based protein is because the category has now emerged as a true competitor. We figure this is probably how flip phone companies felt when the iPhone came out – scared.
Only time will tell if Tyson actually implements any of these changes, but one thing is for sure, the plant-based food category has got a leg up on everything they are concerned about. The issues that Tyson has to worry about, are things that plant-based food brands excel at. This very fact is just another clue that the future of food is indeed, vegan.
Image source: Spicy Sweet Potato and Chickpea Burger