Dedicated meat eaters are unlikely to be surprised by the results of a new study which confirms that social pressure, not purported taste or health benefits, seems to be an essential part of winning people over to plant-based meat alternatives. Social pressure is already an essential part of advertising such products; witness for instance Oatly’s heavily criticised ‘Help Dad’ campaign, which features ‘enlightened’ children shaming their fathers for choosing oat milk over cow’s.
See our recent article on why you should be drinking raw cow’s milk.
Social Pressure and Plant-Based Meat
Researchers conducted two experiments on the advertising of plant-based burgers and meatballs. In the first experiment, 156 participants were shown one of three made-up commercials for a plant-based burger. Each commercial featured a unique appeal: a social appeal (“good for the environment and animal welfare”), a health appeal (“good for your health – no cholesterol and more fiber”) or a taste appeal (“tasty and delicious – just like a beef burger”). Each commercial presented the same nutritional information, that the ersatz meats had similar caloric and protein content as their real counterparts.
The participants were then asked to record their preference on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 meaning they would definitely prefer a beef version and 7 meaning they would definitely prefer the plant-based alternative. Results showed that the participants exposed to the social appeal were most likely to choose the plant-based alternative, whereas the health and taste appeals fell flat.
It’s no surprises that taste appeals, in particular were not persuasive. Research has already established that American consumers prefer the taste of beef to plant-based alternatives.
In the second experiment, about the same number of participants were given information on the relative social and health costs of eating meat versus plant-based meat alternatives. Again, they were asked to rate their preferences using the same scale of 1-7, and again it was discovered that highlighting the social costs was the most effective way to push the participants towards the plant-based alternative.
Impossible, you say? Impossible to make me eat it without massive social pressure
The researchers are clear in their conclusions: ‘highlighting the social benefits of plant-based menu items would convince more consumers to choose them over meat-based options.’ They caution that current high-profile plant-based brands like Impossible and Beyond Meat should look to alter their advertising strategies in light of this research. At present, both brands market their ersatz products on the basis of claims that they share the same taste and texture as the real thing.
Cow farts have become a central plank of the anti-beef case. In this picture a cow was rigged up to an inflatable bag by scientists to catch its emissions.
Although the researchers, like most other advocates of plant-based diets, point to the environmental costs of meat production as the principle reason for reducing or even eliminating meat consumption altogether, they say little about the costs of a massive increase in grain and vegetable production and consumption.
For one thing, there may be very obvious health costs to switching to predominantly plant-based diets, especially for men. Recently we pointed to research that showed that vegetarian diets are responsible for serious decreases in men’s testosterone levels. We’ve also highlighted the role of soy, a powerful phytoestrogen, in reducing testosterone levels.
The health costs, both physical and economic, of declining testosterone levels deserve to be considered; more widespread testosterone replacement and fertility therapy, for instance, would cost a lot of money. As well as infertility, which is already on course to reach dangerous levels, lower testosterone levels are associated with serious conditions like depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer, all of which already place an enormous burden on health systems in Western nations.
If you want to learn more about testosterone, and how to increase your levels and regain your masculinity, you should download our FREE ebook on the subject right now.
Oat milks contain vegetable oils, mainly canola oil, which is a world away from the healthy fats contained in normal cow’s milk. Indeed, vegetable oil consumption may be one of the main drivers of the West’s obesity epidemic, as well as host of other horrible chronic diseases. We’ve gone so far as to label it ‘one of the worst things you can eat’.
The very visible effects of soy monoculture in the Amazon
Nor is the environmental footprint of grain and vegetable agriculture quite so light as advocates of plant-based diets would like us to believe. In our article on soy, we pointed to the terrible devastation caused in the Amazon by the massive advance of soy cultivation, which is replacing beautiful biodiverse rainforest – one of the most fragile and vital ecosystems in the world – with a desert of monoculture which requires massive amounts of chemicals, including harmful pesticides and fertilisers, to sustain.
Oat milk production, too, is no friend to the environment. Indeed, oat production is extremely nitrogen-intensive, and requires massive amounts of fertiliser to support, which in time leads to soil depletion. Although Oatly claims it oat milk is free from Glyphosate – an extremely harmful herbicide made by Monsanto – their supplier was forced to issue the following statement:
“According to the press release… the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), headquartered in Washington, D.C. has found glyphosate residues in several oat-based products. In light of this announcement, we feel it is important to share with you, our customers, our ongoing engagement in this area.”
Glyphosate has been found to cause a number of serious problems, including cancer, in humans and animals.
So, all in all, it’s not quite such a simple morality tale as the plant-based food manufacturers and their advocates like to claim it is. But don’t think that will stop them from making those claims; indeed, the volume with which they do so is only going to increase over the coming weeks, months and years.