Vegan meat alternatives are on the rise

Vegan products like the Impossible Burger could help put the horrors of factory farming behind us.

There’s a lot wrong with factory farming, from the cruelty it inflicts on animals to the destruction of wildlife habitat it brings about to the role it plays in climate change. But people really like meat, and efforts to convince meat eaters to consider vegan diets haven’t been successful.

That’s where meat alternatives come in. Products like veggie burgers, fake chicken, and soy and almond milk are growing in popularity and market share — and even better, they’re getting tastier and harder to distinguish from animal products. Meanwhile, cell-based meat — grown from animal cells in a lab — is still probably years away from being available in stores, but there has been encouraging progress on that front as well.

Is a vegan, meat-free future imminent? Not likely. For now, leading plant-based meat-alternative companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have only been able to carve out a narrow niche with burgers and ground beef. But surging interest in meat alternatives from restaurants and consumers, as well as significant investments in the industry from meat titans, is reason for optimism.