Friday, March 1, 2019

How to market plant-based foods; options for pets

If you do the math, we need to move away from meat and toward a plant based diet to protect the climate. But it’s really hard for some people to give up foods they were raised on. According to the World Resources Institute, we don’t need to force everyone to go vegan.

They found that if people swapped out 30% of their meat intake for vegetarian options like legumes and peas by 2050, the agriculture sector would be able to reduce its emissions and keep the possibility of holding global warming below 2 degrees Celsius in sight.
So how do you make plant based options sound really yummy? Well, you don’t say vegan or meat-free or eco-friendly or healthy.

Highlighting the provenance of the food or flavor (“Cumberland-spiced”) makes people feel more emotionally connected to what they’re purchasing. Also, focusing on flavor over health benefits draws more sales: BBL cited a study that found people vastly prefer “zesty ginger turmeric” sweet potatoes over “health conscious” ones. (I wonder why?) And adding descriptions like creamy or spicy encourage people to see plant-based options as equally appealing to those made with meat. “Research has shown that before we consume food, our brain constructs a mental simulation of how it might taste, and what the experience of eating will be like,” Vennard says, so more details build up positive associations with plant-based dishes.
Don’t forget your pets. According to some estimates, cat and dog foods represent up to 30% of the environmental impact from meat production in the US.

 On a personal note, I’ve been experimenting with vegan dog food. For the kibble, I chose V-dog (from because I liked the protein sources and variety of ingredients. The dogs love it. I even use it as training treats. It is quite a bit more expensive than Purina-like brands you might buy in the grocery. But our dogs are gaining weight on it so if we cut back on the quantity, the cost differential will be less.

We like to put something else in the food to provide variety of nutrients and flavor. So instead of buying canned meat foods, our dogs are getting vegetarian toppers: yogurt, egg, grated cheese, canned pumpkin, etc. They’re lovin’ it. So we haven’t gone full vegan yet, but certainly we’ve made a big dent in our pet-based climate impacts. And it’s probably healthier for them...less weird by-products and bio-accumulative toxics.

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