What Beyond Meat means for social & climate change

The rise in meat alternatives reveals a push towards green market trends

Consumers are starting to expect more from the companies they are buying from.
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I believe public and private enterprises are key to saving the environment. Although private enterprises have spent years turning a blind eye to the environment’s welfare for the sake of profit, I think our generation’s sense of global responsibility can help to bring change. 
 
Look at the recent success of the Beyond Meat movement. 
 
The best solution to the climate crisis would involve everyone making big life changes like switching to electric cars, going plastic-free, and saving water by only flushing their toilets once a week. But the likelihood of that happening tomorrow is slim to none. However, without a doubt, people are already beginning to make more eco-friendly choices, like reducing their meat consumption and buying locally. 
 
That’s why companies are investing so much into making their greenhouse gases, water usage and waste control more efficient—millennials and Gen Z consumers are starting to expect more from the companies they buy from. 
 
A phenomenon indicative of this eco-friendly trend is the push towards meat alternatives, popularized by Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based company producing plant-based meat substitutes, whose products can now be found on the menus of fast food joints such as Tim Hortons and A&W.  
 
The popularity of meat alternatives has skyrocketed in response to the well-publicized fact that animal meat production has dire consequences for the environment. Animal agriculture generates 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and uses about 70 per cent of agricultural land. 
 
That’s one of the reasons why Beyond Meat is one of the best performing initial public offerings on the Toronto Stock Exchange this year, and why Canadian companies like Maple Leaf Foods are developing their own plant-based proteins. 
 
Consumers are realizing the pressing need to shift toward greener eating habits. 
 
The creators of Beyond Meat and companies like Lightlife and Impossible Foods believe meat is only five ingredients: amino acids, lipids, trace minerals, vitamins and water. The main ingredients they use to make vegan “meats” are pea protein isolate, refined coconut oil, and expeller-pressed canola oil. 
 
Beyond Meat is also relatively balanced in terms of macronutrients. Beyond Meat patties have 290 calories, which is close to the 283 calories of an 85 per cent lean beef patty. Although the Beyond Meat burger has about the same amount of fat and protein  as an animal meat burger, it has 0 milligrams of cholesterol. 
 
The main reason you should substitute meat with Beyond Meat (at least every once and in a while) is because of how much it benefits the environment in comparison. A quarter-pound Beyond Burger is produced with 90 per cent fewer greenhouse gases, 99 per cent less water, 93 per cent less land, and 46 per cent less electricity compared to beef-based products. 
 
With new agricultural technologies advancing, these statistics will likely only improve when compared with traditional meat. 
 
Whether or not you choose to eat Beyond Meat or similar meat alternatives, it’s clear consumers’ desire to take better care of Earth directly impacts market trends and the choices companies make. 
 
I’m optimistic that our society is adopting a communal spirit that generally cares about our planet’s health. People know things need to change. That’s why they’ve proven they support companies that want the same thing. 
 
Cleaning up the environment starts with changing the way we behave, but it ends with developing technology to make it easier for us to live green.
 

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