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The Beef Industry Just Fired Back At Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

By Alex Maxx

People are opting for both plant-based burgers and lab-made meat – which poses a real threat to those who raise the real thing. 

The U.S. Cattlemen's Association has expressed their concern and gotten defensive on these new food-tech start-up companies and vegan burger brands that make 'meat' and 'beef' without actual cattle. Some of these brands include Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats, Impossible Foods, and Just.

Now, the association is forming a petition for the USDA to give a federal definition for 'beef' and 'meat' which would exclude these new, cattle-free products. Beef products would be “come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner.” This already excludes these new brands, but the petition went as far as to specify, noting 'beef' can't be used for products made from “plant, insects, or other non-animal components, and any product grown in labs from animal cells”

These tech-savvy meat substitutes are both popular and widely-available. Whole Foods has started selling Beyond Burgers in the meat aisle, next to real beef – which terrifies the folks over at USCA and NCBA. A recent survey done shows six in ten consumers are cutting down their meat consumption, with three of those six making it a permanent change. 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association insists that one of their responsibilities is educating and protecting consumers "from fake meat and misleading labels." 

Does this move look like it could hurt these new high-tech meat alternatives? According too Beyond Meat Founder Ethan Brown, not at all:

“I think it actually could help us more than it could hurt us because it starts the national dialogue around what really is meat, and if the origin of meat really matters to the consumer.” Brown said on the debate.