The Beef Wars, Episode 1: The Rise of Plant-Based Meats

In a new video, ADWEEK explores how marketing animal alternatives could impact the climate

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As rising global temperatures lead to less predictable weather patterns and more natural disasters, wildfires, droughts and floods, many people are looking for ways to shift to lower-carbon lifestyles. A major one, according to climate experts, is related to what we eat.

Plant-based meats exploded onto the scene in a new way in 2020, with brands like Impossible and Beyond Meat rapidly growing their footprints in grocery stores and restaurants across the U.S. These products, most popular with “flexitarians”—people who are sometimes vegetarian—gave consumers a more meat-like substitute for the classic American burger, sausage or chicken nugget.

After a period of optimism, though, the growth of these meat alternatives began to falter. As Impossible looks to its next chapter, it aims to broaden its reach to a larger swath of mainstream meat-eating audiences—an effort that has the potential for massive emissions savings, but requires marketing that inspires consumer behavior change.

For the first installment of a new video series called The Beef Wars, ADWEEK spoke with Impossible CMO Leslie Sims as well as Solitaire Townsend, co-founder and chief solutionist at sustainability-focused agency Futerra, and Matthew Hayek, environmental scientist and assistant professor at New York University. Watch the first episode below, and stay tuned for the next in the series, where we’ll dive into the emergence of climate-friendly beef labels.

Video: Breana Mallamaci

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