Last year, I publicly spoke out against fake meats for the first time. I had been invited to speak at a producer event in Nebraska, after a packer (that I won’t name) backed out at the last minute. This packer had been invited to speak at this meeting about their new investment in plant-based protein, and while packers have always invested in protein — operating beef, poultry and pork — this time it felt different.
This investment felt like a slap in the face, but really, do you blame them? Imagine the overhead, the liability, the training, the security and oversight that comes with harvesting an animal from start to finish. It makes sense they would be looking for a protein source that could be mixed in a vat with much less risk and labor needed to get the job done.
As a business person, I get it.
As a beef producer, I wonder what that means for us?
And that’s exactly what I tackled in that first speech and have done many times over ever since.
From events like Alltech’s The One to podcasts with small, niche health-conscious audiences, everybody has been asking me the same question, “What is it about fake meats that has everybody so riled up?”
Last week, I published a blog post titled, “8 things about fake meats for beef producers to consider.”
The blog breaks down what I think are some of the biggest factors we need to think about before we push back against these products. In a nutshell, the industry isn’t afraid of the competition; we have always competed against other proteins in the meat case after all; however, these folks are playing by different rules where mud-slinging is the norm and lying about beef and pork seems to be their model for scaling demand.
And that’s where I think it becomes time for the beef industry to push back.
The Beef Checkoff accomplishes that in an ad campaign now going viral on social media.
In a series of photos and videos featuring delectable cuts of beef, the “Nicely done, beef.” campaign highlights what beef does so well in contrast to some of today’s most popular talking about alternative proteins.
- “Nicely done, beef. You’ve proven that meat substitutes are just that. Substitutes.”
- “Nicely done, beef.” You’ve always been what’s for dinner.”
- “Nicely done, beef. You’re the only nutritious meal people don’t lie about liking.”
- “Nicely done, beef. You taste like beef with only one ingredient.”
- “Nicely done, beef. You provide the benefits of a protein bar. Without tasing like one.”
- “Nicely done, beef. You give people a reason to use the drooling emoji.”
I wrote about this campaign in 2018 and was excited about it then, but like a fine wine, this one continues to get better with age, succinctly saying exactly what we are all thinking anyway but in a pretty package that’s worth sharing on social media.
Some might not like the snarky approach to these, but consider these ads and videos in comparison to some of the latest headlines we are seeing about fake meats in the media today:
“Climate hustler Al Gore moves to provide big from anti-meat drive” featured on Mother Nature
“To help save the planet, cut back to a hamburger and a half per week” by Jen Christensen for CNN
“The plant-based movement to transition frames away from meat and dairy production” by Civil Eats
Headlines aren’t all bad though. Here are a few pro-meat articles worth sharing, as well:
- “‘Meatless Mondays’ don’t fight climate change or boost kids’ health” by Will Coggin for the New York Post
- “A burger won’t negate an airplane” by Brandi Buzzard-Frobose for Buzzard’s beat
As we wade through the good and bad on these discussions, we must remember — beef has an incredible story in regards to nutrition, taste and environment! We can certainly stand on our own merits and perhaps we should stop giving these plant-based companies such a great platform every time we counter their falsehoods.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.