from the world's big
Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods find a greater foothold in the market as demand for plant-based meats rises.
Where's the beef?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI2NDEzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzA3MTI3Nn0.4iJJr5OUv0Hx-WC1rxPzoSk4zCMyMlGGBAK1VjlNzMM/img.jpg?width=980" id="a36a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6641198555a5cfb434656e86aeae3248" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was closed indefinitely after its workers caught and spread the coronavirus.
The plant-based industry takes root<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI2NDE0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5ODEwNjEzOH0.nMlZXJAI1qRCf_m2pEOYLlWEbnIW9Ed6Wv75DvK1ESk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C895&height=700" id="a6960" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="19055729ecdfb6cd5f0b50330e629043" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Beyond Meat's plant-based patties on store shelves at Costco.
Will Beyond Meat go, well, beyond meat?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="ClRRdKXm" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="24ebdf58c2c4cfb04f42281bd59f8382"> <div id="botr_ClRRdKXm_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ClRRdKXm-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/ClRRdKXm-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ClRRdKXm-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Will the pandemic shift America away from meat and toward <a href="https://bigthink.com/natalie-shoemaker/what-the-world-would-look-like-in-2050-if-we-ate-less-meat" target="_self">more sustainable alternatives</a>? Probably not. At least not any time soon.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2016/12/01/public-views-about-americans-eating-habits/" target="_blank">Pew Research Center</a> found that only 9 percent of Americans consider themselves vegan or vegetarian, meaning 298 million of us can enjoy a juicy burger. That's a lot of hearts and minds, and shifts in cultural eating habits can be geologic in their timeline. But it may prove <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/livestock-disruption" target="_self">a tipping point</a>. </p><p>Both <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com/mission/" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a> and <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/about/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> list limiting suffering and sustainability on their mission statements, and their products do sport <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/02/beyond-meat-uses-climate-change-to-market-fake-meat-substitutes-scientists-are-cautious.html" target="_blank">a reduced carbon footprint</a> compared to meat—though higher than other vegetarian alternatives such as bean patties.</p><p>Those values are in line with younger generations and <a href="https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2015/green-generation-millennials-say-sustainability-is-a-shopping-priority/" target="_blank">their shopping habits</a>. It's also no coincidence that Pew found young people the most likely to identify as vegan or vegetarian, while other research has shown the cohort to be the <a href="https://www.globaldata.com/millennials-are-the-most-experimental-consumers-with-seniors-least-likely-to-try-new-products/" target="_blank">most experimental in their shopping</a>.</p><p>"People don't like to be contributing to climate change and biodiversity collapse and pandemics. It feels icky, so we try not to talk about it," Rachel Konrad, Impossible Foods' COO, <a href="https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/5/5/21247286/plant-based-meat-coronavirus-pandemic-impossible-burger-beyond" target="_blank">told <em>Vox</em></a>. "But it's in these moments when the gruesome reality of animal agriculture pierces into our consciousness—because of COVID or whatever else—that we start to wake up."</p>
Some purveyors of "wellness" sure are sounding like right-wing conspiracy theorists.
- The term conspirituality was coined in 2011 to represent a growing disillusionment that leads to belief in conspiracy theories.
- This particular affliction affects spiritually-minded people suspicious of anything deemed institutional.
- Conspiritual thinking is the juncture where far-left "wellness" purveyors meet right-wing conspiracy theorists.
Why conspiratorial thinking is peaking in America | Sarah Rose Cavanagh | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="86b7a1d0a81cb123bf55dbee0916566a"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OmVJrCN_agM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Icke regurgitated this factoid <a href="https://londonreal.tv/the-coronavirus-conspiracy-how-covid-19-will-seize-your-rights-destroy-our-economy-david-icke/" target="_blank">on an episode</a> of "London Real," which has garnered nearly 6 million views on YouTube. He begins by claiming the world is controlled by a cult, followed by an impassioned rage against 5G towers. Nanotechnology microchips are destined to be inserted into COVID-19 vaccines. We need to recognize these truths in order to be part of a "spiritual awakening," which not-so-ironically is a dogwhistle used by wannabe cult leaders. Full circle, I suppose. </p><p>If trying to follow these plot lines confuses you, don't worry: that's part of the rhetoric. Ward continues, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Conspirituality has spread from being a scattering of single, first-generation providers to a large chain. It is now part of the spiritual supermarket: clients shop around, settling upon the outlets whose interpretations of the two core convictions best suit their own opinions and tastes."</p><p>Which is how in recent weeks my Facebook feed has become dominated by a warning that Bill Gates wants to depopulate the world in order to microchip humans by forcibly injecting COVID-19 vaccines into everyone. This saves lives in an attempt to control the population he initially set out to destroy. 5G is in there somewhere because, I don't know, analytics? </p><p>A lack of critical thinking has long plagued the wellness community. An example: Since herbs and tinctures can be sold as dietary supplements with minimal federal oversight, companies go to great lengths to advertise their products regardless of clinical evidence. This has resulted in a multi-billion dollar alternative medicine market. If you want to achieve success in this market, you need to be alternative to something. That something happens to be vaccines, and Big Pharma in general. </p><p>Not that Big Pharma isn't an appropriate enemy. The for-profit medical model is not designed to serve our interests. A real conspiracy is the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors fostered by lackluster federal oversight. We should be up in arms about a mental health crisis that has in large part been created for profit maximization. But that story is complex and our brains are not designed to process complexity. An easier target is vaccines, one of the most effective and important scientific advances in history.</p>
A man in a face mask walks in front of graffiti reading 'Stop 5G Paranoia' which is painted on a wall in East London on April 19, 2020 in London, England.
Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images<p><span style="background-color: initial;">If you were to tell me a year ago that a pandemic would be cause for political polarization, I would have dismissed the notion, even in the era of Trump. My hope blinded me from the reality of the situation: confusion is the point. It keeps us off our guard.</span></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">In an essay on conspirituality in the COVID-19 age, philosopher </span>Jules Evans <a href="https://medium.com/@julesevans/conspirituality-the-overlap-between-the-new-age-and-conspiracy-beliefs-c0305eb92185" target="_blank">writes</a> that even the term "conspiracy theory" is confusing now. "It can be a way of simply dismissing a topic without considering it." He continues,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The pandemic has led to a breakdown in knowledge and certainty. We don't know much about the virus or the best way of dealing with it, but we know it's killing a lot of us and we're afraid. This is happening to the entire human race at the same time, and we're all connected on the internet."</p><p>In 2012, I started a now-defunct blog with four fellow yoga teachers that tackled issues in yoga and politics. While yoga has always been deeply political, the modern incarnation, which began in America in the early nineteenth century and became a marketing juggernaut in the eighties, usually eschews political talk. Yet the entire physical revolution of yoga in the early twentieth century was a response to British occupation. The only era of non-political yoga is modern, affluent America. </p><p>On our site, we strove to remind people that being a yogi means engaging as a citizen. At the most basic level, citizenry in a democracy requires that you vote. Our blog achieved some success and started a few conversations, yet we recognized that companies selling leggings will always reach a much larger audience. Humans are not built to care about things that don't directly affect them. This is especially troubling in a yoga community in which one of the most popular mantras champions the freedom of all sentient beings. How that usually translates: "<em>I </em>want to feel good right now," not "I'm willing to fight for livable wages so that everyone can afford their rent."</p><p>Then a pandemic rolls around and suddenly everyone is affected. Since much of this wellness community has been checked out of politics, the first thing these healers and rebels encounter are rehashed right-wing talking points couched in the language of spirituality. This is not how conspirituality starts—that's usually by men with agendas they want to monetize—but it is how it spreads. Ideas are as contagious as viruses and, as it turns out, equally dangerous. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
The best and worst of yesterday has created the economy of today.
- Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's Planet Money, can trace a line through time from homemade clothing and baked goods to today's passion economy. Davidson argues that a combination of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are how we got to where we are.
- We shifted from an intimate and localized economy of goods and services, to an economy of scale, and finally to what Davidson refers to as "intimacy at scale."
- There are, of course, positive attributes to this hybrid economic system, but it also comes with some of the flaws of its predecessors.
We've known this virus was coming. We just didn't do anything about it.
- As far back as 2007, researchers warned about a novel coronavirus emerging from SARS.
- Long before that, experts knew that factory farms create the conditions for pandemics.
- Pandemics will be part of our lives as long as we continue our current methods of meat production.
Cows in a milking parlour on a large farm. The cows are milked by milking machine twice a day on April 24, 2019 in Verkhniy Ikorets, Russia.
Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images<p>A few years ago, public health expert Larry Brilliant <a href="https://bigthink.com/videos/larry-brilliant-the-biggest-threats-to-global-health" target="_self">stopped by</a> the Big Think office to discuss the most pressing issues facing humanity if a pandemic were to occur. He offered two: the diseases that ravage our biology, and more importantly, our preparation to combat those diseases. Brilliant was especially concerned in regards to the second. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We have a White House which would almost reflexly discard anything that has the word 'public' in it, and one of those words is 'public health.' And they have not shown a keen interest in pandemics. The whole idea of 'America First,' which might be good for many things, is singularly not good for a global pandemic."</p><p>Brilliant says we've had 30 to 40 diseases, almost all of which are viruses, that jump from animals to humans at a rate of roughly one a year. The number is increasing—not catastrophically, he says, at least not yet. The reason for concern? Humans and animals living in such close proximity due to clear-cutting of forests and factory farms. This proximity is creating a "natural virus experiment." </p><p>How to stop this experiment? We have to curb our enthusiasm for meat. Eating less of it, sure, and being more discerning about where you source meat. Words like "natural" don't mean anything on a package; even "free range" is suspect. Knowing your farmer is important. Or, as Shapiro advocates, the emerging market of "clean meat," which is actual meat cultured in laboratories. A consumer-priced burger isn't there yet, but we're getting closer. </p><p>We can also add vegetarian and flexitarian arguments here. Yet I'm wary of recent vegan arguments that humans were not designed to eat meat. You can't rewrite history—humans are humans thanks in part to our consumption of meat, as thinkers such as <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/206671/the-story-of-the-human-body-by-daniel-e-lieberman/" target="_blank">Daniel Lieberman</a> and <a href="https://www.basicbooks.com/titles/richard-wrangham/catching-fire/9780465020416/" target="_blank">Richard Wrangham</a> have pointed out. We can—and should—argue about the future, but let us at least understand where we come from. </p><p>One thing is certain: stopping this virus experiment will require seriously rethinking the system that's creating it. At least the next time someone asks, "how could this have happened?," tell them we already know the answer. We've known it for generations. What we do about it moving forward is the story we've yet to write.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
Americans consume the most toilet paper in the world but it's a very wasteful product to manufacture, according to the numbers.
- Toilet paper consumption is unsustainable and requires a tremendous amount of resources to produce.
- Americans use the most toilet paper in the world and have been hoarding it due to coronavirus.
- Alternatives to toilet paper are gaining more popularity with the public.
A senior citizen gets the last pack of toilet rolls at Sainsbury's Supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, United Kingdom.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Women buy toilet paper from tradesman in street market by the City Wall, Xian, China. March 14, 2020.
Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images
Customers purchase toilet paper at a Target store in Orlando, FL during the panic shopping. March, 2020.
Credit: Paul Hennessy / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images