Vegan meat June 15, 2012Posted by Cameron Shelley in : STV202 , trackback
From the Huffington Post comes news of “Beyond meat”, a vegan meat startup funded by Evan Williams and Biz Stone, co-founders of Twitter. The aim of the company is to mass-produce meat substitutes based on plant tissues.
Why? For starters, Stone is a vegan and this venture will help to promote a vegan lifestyle for those who cannot live without their chicken tacos. Also, although the article does not pursue this matter, the meat-based diet popular in the Western world is not sustainable. Basically, turning edible plant matter into meat prior to human consumption is inefficient and creates associated externalities of waste and greenhouse gases. So, the hope is that producing “meat” directly from plant matter will address these issues that arise with the genuine article.
Does it taste like chicken? Reports suggest the new product is neither tasty nor offensive which, one would think, makes it perfect for processed food production.
Only one issue remains. What to call the fake meat? If it is going to sell, it needs some better branding and that starts with a good handle.
- The most obvious name would be “fake meat”. However, drawing attention to its fakeness seems like a bad idea. Who would eat margarine if it were called “imitation butter” (as Michael Pollan notes)? The same goes for mock meat, faux meat, and meat analogue!
- In some cases, I would suggest the term “mismeat”. This name conveys the happy thought, for meat eaters, that one might easily mistake the product for real meat. Of course, few fake meats rise to that standard, so the name might instead be construed as an admission that eating it instead of meat is a mistake.
- Another tactic is to call the fake meat “veggie-meat”, so that fake chicken would be called “veggie chicken”, for example. This nomenclature seems to work, and “veggie dogs” and “veggie burgers” have become common coinage in our household on those occasions when we eat the stuff.
- Stone seems to favor “vegan meat”. However, that name sounds too much like an oxymoron, like the proverbial “business ethics” or “airline food”.
The basic problem with all these names is that they concede the second-rate status of the material. A meat substitute remains an imitation of the real thing, not something to be sought out for its own sake. Instead, we need to Think different. Therefore, I suggest “iFood”!