I recently watched an episode of Shark Tank that clearly showcases how modern pop culture has idolized everything plant-based while demonizing meat, dairy and eggs.
Watching the episode would be good homework for everyone in animal agriculture to understand exactly what we are dealing with in terms of misconceptions and how best to respond based on our consumers’ value systems and beliefs (not our own).
If you’re unfamiliar with Shark Tank, it’s an incredibly popular ABC show that has been on the air for 10+ years. The show features a panel of millionaire and billionaire entrepreneurs who make investments in start-up companies, pitched by average Americans like you and me.
Personally, I love the show. As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve learned a lot from the episodes over the year, and it’s interesting to see what captures these investors’ attentions and what they pass on.
It’s one of those shows that you can watch as a whole family, and it might inspire your own kids to open up a lemonade stand. Or they can create a product to sell or aspire for greater heights in their future careers.
Anyway, this most recent episode featured Jonathan and Deborah Torres, creators of Atlas Monroe and practicing raw vegans. Atlas Monroe features a vegan, wheat-based fried chicken product, which they said could compete with the “real deal” friend chicken.
Despite the Sharks raving about the vegan “chickens” tasty batter and look alike shake, the pitch fell apart when the couple couldn’t fully explain or grasp their numbers and sales.
In a frustrating offhand comment, Shark Lorie Greiner, said she had concerns about eating meat because of “all of the steroids and antibiotics.” I’ll address that misconception in a future blog post.
Later in the episode, I was a little confused when the couple asked for $500,000 for 10% of their company, when they only had $60,000-70,000 in lifetime sales.
Yet, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and recent convert to a vegan lifestyle, surprised these two entrepreneurs with the deal of a lifetime when he, along with fellow shark Rohan Oza, offered them $1 million for 100% of the company.
As reported by USA Today, Torres turned down the offer and told Cuban, “The fact you guys are even offering a million dollars let’s me know you do understand what we are worth.”
Understand the weight of this investment and how this episode played out in front of America. Yet one more celebrity billionaire (much like Bill Gates or Richard Branson) has signaled to modern consumers that plants are king and meat is bad.
I think consumers’ appetites for meat, dairy and eggs won’t dissipate and that the hype for these plant-based products is way over-exaggerated; however, the constant slamming and disparaging of our products continues. That is going to leave a lasting mark on our industry.
It seems like nearly every day I close a blog post saying, “We have lots of work to do to counteract these falsehoods,” and today’s post is no different. I can’t stress this enough – we need strong voices in animal agriculture today. If we are to protect our rights to farm and our rights to the foods we want to eat, staying quiet is no longer an option!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.