Thanks for your thoughtful response, Stephen. I appreciate it very much. And as you can imagine, if I believed blending would actually increase animal meat consumption, I’d abandon the effort immediately. (You’ll be pleased/interested to know though that nearly all public cultured meat tastings so far have been blended with plant proteins, and in fact we at The Better Meat Co. also sell our products to cultured meat startups.)
To your point: I (sadly) doubt that ethics are driving many people’s food choices, so I’m doubtful of the moral licensing effect getting in the way here. People seem to make their food choices based on taste/price/convenience, not ethics. Nearly no one who buys plant-based meat cites ethics as a motivating factor. It really does seem like taste, and perhaps novelty, are more of the drivers. (One recent citation: https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2019/06/21/Five-types-of-consumer-make-up-the-unbelievable-plant-based-trend-Givaudan)
As well, a lot of blending that happens right now is in the default product in cafeterias, which would seem to obviate that concern. For example, in many cafeterias now run by the big foodservice companies, the burgers are all mushroom-blended (even if not overtly advertised as such), meaning that anyone who gets a burger is getting a lot less meat, probably without even thinking about it. I’m aware of a large company also blending all their tuna rolls with 40% plant-based tuna (again, without overtly advertising it), allowing them to buy 40% less tuna. We at The Better Meat Co are certainly arguing for blending to become the norm, not just novel products. The more we can get our prices down, the more likely that becomes. (Also, FWIW, our products can be used as fully plant-based meats in many applications.)
I’ve wondered about this same issue, BTW, with the fast food companies and plant-based meat. For example, traffic is rising at BKs with the Impossible Whopper. (Cite: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/impossible-whopper-boosted-burger-king-traffic-by-18percent-report-says.html) What if regular Whopper purchases are also increasing in those locations? Of course I’m thrilled that BK is offering the Impossible Whopper (and I got it last week!), and I hope it’s actually supplanting regular Whopper purchases, but it’d be interesting to see some data.
I agree with your hope that people who buy plant-based meat 20% of the time will consider eating blended products the other 80%. If we can move toward a world in which blending becomes the norm, I think that’s feasible. Perhaps a better analogy than hybrid cars would be automakers simply improving fuel efficiency across their fleets. Perhaps meat-makers can improve efficiency across their product lines, too.
More thoughts, but I’m afraid I’m violating social norm of leaving dissertation-length comments that no one will read. :-) Again, thank you!