Cows vs. Chemists: The Health Debates Over Plant-Based Meat

People who eat fewer animal products do so because they think it’s better for them. In a 2019 Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported reducing meat consumption in the prior year (5% were eating more). Of those eating less meat, 90% cited health reasons, and fully 70% named health a major concern — big gaps from concern over the environment, food safety, or animal welfare.7 And global surveys by Euromonitor and Veylinx show similar patterns.

As the name suggests, plant-based meats have capitalized on the plant-based diet trend, and no company more so than Beyond Meat. The company’s IPO prospectus detailed the company’s “strong belief” that Beyond products can “help address concerns related to human healthclimate change, resource conservation and animal welfare.” Ethan Brown, the company’s CEO, leans into health claims in particular. In 2021, he told The New York Times that “a No. 1 priority” is to “make sure people understand that our products are actually better for them than animal protein.”