The Meat Wars Rage On

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As the cattle industry becomes increasingly terrified by America’s newfound discovery that plants actually taste pretty good, their newest strategy to keep the nation dripping with meat sweat is a smear campaign against veggie burgers. To fight that battle, the beef industry has enlisted the help of a lobbyist famous for being pro-cigarette and anti-Humane Society.

Richard Berman, the lobbyist who reportedly served as an inspiration for the film Thank You For Smoking, has joined the meat wars in connection with a “shadowy” organization called the Center for Consumer Freedom, according to a recent interview between Eater and Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown. Currently, many plant-based food companies are locked in legal battles with the meat industry over who gets to use terms like “burger,” a situation that never posed a problem until people actually started enjoying the veggie burgers produced by companies like Impossible:

There’s obviously a lot of effort to limit our ability to market our products,” Brown said.That just has to do with regulations around what we can call them and how we can talk about them. There were efforts in a number of producing States to put those restrictions on. I would say by and large they were not very successful. I don’t think that the smart money is betting that it will withstand a constitutional challenge.”

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The next fight seems to be convincing the public that veggie burgers are junk food and beef burgers are basically nutritional supplements. To work some PR sorcery in favor of an industry constantly beset by bad press, big beef has enlisted the help of Berman. Previously, Berman has also reportedly fought on the side of corn syrup and cigarettes while working at union busting in order to keep the minimum wage stagnant, a fact indicative to Brown that Impossible is on the right side of this war:

They’ve hired this guy Richard Berman, the Center for Consumer Freedom, who’s like mister mouthpiece for every big evil industry you can think of. Which I feel like boy, that’s a point of pride for me. You definitely want to be the people he’s going after. Not the people who he’s defending.”

Berman’s playbook seems to be twofold, according to the interview: pushing the narrative that there is something effeminate about eating plants and spreading the word that Impossible burgers are “processed” food. Your move, Impossible. Might I suggest introducing a new line of veggie burgers just for men called something like “Mountain Grizzly XTreme Alpine Burger”? 

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