Adrienne Rose Bitar, a post doctoral associate in the Department of History, specializes in the history and culture of American food and health. Bitar recently published "Diet and the Disease of Civilization," a study of diet books that examines trends in popular diets. Recently, Bitar published an opinion piece through Wired.com that discusses the increasing role FDA regulations play in the vegetarian meat market. In her piece, she argues for greater governmental support of the development of alternative meats and the changing future of the protein.
"Of course, regulation helps ensure food safety and a transparent supply chain," she writes. "Much like the push to label GMOs, labels help consumers know what they're buying. But while a genetically-modified tomato and a conventional tomato may look identical, plant-based meats aren't going undercover in the butcher shop. Rather, they're touting their vegetarian, eco-friendly origins as a value-added. Beyond Burger calls itself a 'revolutionary plant-based burger.' Impossible Burger claims 'we found a way to make meat using plants, so that we never have to use animals again.'
The FDA's nutrition facts and mandatory ingredient labeling already distinguish plant-based meats from their cow or chicken counterparts. An ingredient list of pea protein, apple fiber, and coconut oil isn't trying to fool anyone. Hoover knew it a hundred years ago and we need to act on it now: the world needs fake meat. We can all be thankful we've moved beyond whale casserole and soy mush croquettes."