LAST UPDATED: 27 October 2020
Have you noticed more plant-based meats in your local supermarket? Aussie supermarkets are not only expanded their ranges of vegan options, but they're now starting to include plant-based meats... in the meat section [insert shocked gasps here].
For those who choose not to eat meat, the thought of going into the meat section to buy a plant-based product may seem bizarre. But for animals, this is a huge step. Here's why ...
This is where non-vegetarians will find it (when they're looking for meat).
For people who aren't already eating plant-based meals, there's often no reason to go into the vegetarian section at the supermarket, pick up a product and try it. But when people go looking for mince, and they see plant-based mince sitting right next to their usual product, and it looks the same, and it has the same amount of protein, with added health benefits — they will be more likely to pick it up and try it.
1 in 3 Australians are meat-free or actively reducing their meat consumption and 1 in 2 Australians are trying to cut down on red meat. These people might not necessarily think that the vegetarian section of the supermarket is for them. But placing plant-based versions of familiar products where they're likely to find them, has huge potential for animals.
Research and experience shows that this helps more animals.
- Beyond Meat has had huge success in the meat section. Figures from one of the largest retailers in the US showed that out of all its grocery stores in southern California, over a 5 week period in 2018, the Beyond Burger was the number-one-selling beef patty in the meat case. Source: Forbes.
- Costco placed Don Lee Farm's organic plant-based patty in their meat section — and sold more than a million burgers in less than 60 days. Source: Forbes.
- UK food and coffee chain, Pret, tried putting all their meat-free products in a 'veggie fridge' — and it backfired. They found that: "While the fridges have certainly helped to raise awareness of our meat-free menu, we noticed that more customers actually choose veggie options when they are clearly labelled and integrated with meaty items, rather than segregated in a separate fridge." Source: Pret.
- It worked with dairy-free milks. Since being placed alongside dairy milks in fridges and on shelves in supermarkets, dairy-free milks have rapidly increased in popularity, now representing 1/6th of the Australian market. Source: CSIRO.
- It works on restaurant menus. Research has found that diners in restaurants with a menu where vegetarian dishes are in a vegetarian section are 56% less likely to order a vegetarian dish. Menus which listed meat and vegetarian dishes together (with a small 'v' to indicate vegetarian) saw a massive increase in the amount of veg dishes sold. Source: World Resources Institute.
It's a sign that plant-based eating is becoming more common, and products are meeting expectations.
When supermarkets put plant-based products in the meat section, it's a sign not only that they know there's strong demand for these products, but that they believe in the quality of these products and their equivalence to meat-based options. This sends a message to the consumer — that they can count on this product being as good as the meat versions right next to it.
It's great for allies.
Not every person shopping for plant-based products is shopping for themselves. Many young people decide to eat vegetarian whilst still living at home. Many vegetarians and vegans have meat-eating partners and friends. For many vegetarians and vegans, support from family and friends can be crucial in helping them stick to their choice and their values. By making it easier for people to find products and cook plant-based for their vegetarian child, partner or friend, may help to create more positive conversations around plant-based eating. And who knows, they may even try it and like it too!
The kindest choice becomes the most convenient choice.
People are creatures of habit. Most people consider themselves to be thoughtful and compassionate but we all lead busy lives and often, convenience is the number one priority for shoppers. We know that plant-based versions of familiar products, such as burgers, sausages and mince, is one of the most convenient ways for people to start out eating meat-free meals. It means they're able to stick to the recipes they know and love, simply by using the plant-based version. Putting these choices in the meat section, makes this process even more convenient, as they don't have to go looking for a plant-based option. In fact, this one step makes meals like spaghetti bolognaise, burgers, tacos and more — just as convenient to make meat-free, as not.
It will spare more animals.
Putting a plant-based product in the meat section will result in more sales to a wider market, and ultimately spare more animals from being raised and killed for meat. At the end of the day, isn't this the most important thing? It's very rare that supermarkets will put a product in two places, so why not put it where it has the greatest benefit to animals? As animal lovers, supporting meat-free products in the meat-section, and thanking supermarkets who take this step, is an important way for us to help animals.