As plant-based products gain popularity and calls to reduce meat consumption increase, many huge players in the food industry are taking action. You may have heard about some of the delicious plant-based options now on menus and supermarket shelves...but some forward-thinking food companies are taking things a step further.
Recently, massive names in the meat industry like Perdue and Tyson have made waves in the news for taking on what are known as blended products.
Those of you who are in the process of cutting back on animal products—or having a tough time transitioning to a more plant-based diet—take note!
Blended products are designed to cut down overall meat consumption (without compromising on taste) by mixing meat and vegetable protein into one product. Important for all you vegans and vegetarians out there: Blended products are not to be misunderstood for meat replacements!
Rather than replace it altogether, blended products reduce the amount of meat required in a recipe—for instance, the amount of beef needed to make a hamburger patty. One of the earliest, most successful examples is the Sonic Slinger, which came out in early 2018. This popular Sonic Drive-In menu item is a blended burger that consists of beef and mushrooms (25%-30%). Similarly, since 2016, Sodexo has experimented with integrating blended meats into their services in K-12 schools to increase produce consumption.
Not only are blended products helpful in the fight to end factory farming and reduce meat production, they also happen to be good for business: Meat production is expensive and resource-intensive, while plants are much cheaper to work with. With overall costs reduced, companies gain space to invest in higher welfare practices—like providing farmed animals more room to roam, better living conditions, and critical enrichments.
These products are also helpful for farmed animals: As demand for meat has grown, so has the incentive to intensify meat production. This has resulted in a slate of cruel factory farming practices—including cramped cages for laying hens, cruel confinement for pigs, unhealthy genetics for chickens, and more.
Despite progress, more and more animals enter our broken food system every year. Blended products, intended for those who currently eat meat or are hesitant to try a fully plant-based diet, are one way to help tackle this critical problem.
Ending factory farming and reducing our nation’s overall meat consumption will take a lot of work and many different approaches; Blended products are just one solution to help a more compassionate world for farm animals, while also having a significant impact on consumer health and the health of the planet.
For the many Americans who aren’t down for a totally plant-based lifestyle, blended products are also a good place to start cutting back. Eating a blended product means eating less meat, which benefits flexitarians, reducetarians, and other people who care about animal welfare and the environment, but cannot take on a full vegan or vegetarian diet just yet. These products also serve as an effective way to help reduce the number of farmed animals in our food system before clean meat reaches accessible market prices.
Interested in giving blended products a try at home? Here are some meat companies that currently offer them to consumers:
- Applegate’s beef and turkey Blend Burgers combined with mushrooms.
- Perdue, in partnership with Better Meat Co., offer more varied plant-based blends (rather than working with just mushrooms) through their new line of chicken nuggets, patties, and tenders.
- Tyson’s Raised & Rooted line, which includes nuggets, patties, and sausages.