Talking Point: Lyndon Gee: June 2021

Plant-based marketing

I’m amazed how we get sucked in by food marketers. Take margarine. We know it’s no substitute for good butter. So marketers told us butter is unhealthy and rebranded margarine as ‘spread’.

They’re at it again, attacking meat and pushing ‘Plant Based’. A meaningless term metropolitans love. Most of us are either omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan. Actually, a BLT, supermarket beef lasagne or frozen roast dinner contain only 20% meat so are technically ‘Plant Based’.

The veggie/vegan community must take some responsibility. ‘Knit your own muesli’ 70s puritans didn’t do a great job making veggie food taste and look good. For years vegetarians were an afterthought in hospitality, but not retail – there is more fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses on supermarket shelves than meat and fish.

For environmental reasons many of us are eating less meat, and there is clearly a rise in vegetarians and vegans. Enter the marketers, seizing the opportunity for huge profit with a range of high-margin, ultra-processed, fake meat and ready meals.

‘Plant Based’ is alarmingly close to becoming a euphemism for junk food. If you follow the marketers’ ‘Plant Based’ diet, better pop a multivitamin as you’re probably missing essential nutrients!