One surprising result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a spike in consumer demand for imitation meats. According to a Nielsen report, during the first nine weeks of the crisis in the United States, grocery store sales of faux-meat products increased 264 percent. The reasons included concerns about illness at meatpacking plants, the possible spread of disease from industrial livestock operations, and even fears about the animal origins of Covid-19 itself.
Well before Covid-19, America’s progressive “food movement” had taken a stance against the new imitation meats. The reasoning behind this stance deserves a closer look. But the food movement’s opposition to imitation plant-based meat has put them in bed with the livestock industry—the producers of real meat, and a traditional food movement foe. Particularly in the Covid era, is this such a wise choice?