Plant-based food too expensive: professor

Food professor Sylvain Charlebois thought he’d give a new vegan butcher in Halifax a try.

Curious about what a vegan butcher would offer, and what the food would taste like, he bought some macaroni and cheese and six “burger” patties. The total at the cash register was $57.

“I actually thought she made a mistake,” he said during a presentation at the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference. “There’s some momentum to a plant-based diet, absolutely. However, I actually do believe that in many cases vegan products … are pricing themselves out of the market.”

He said without some adjustment, the stores and their products won’t survive.

As well, a plant-based diet is supposed to be cheaper, not more expensive, he said.

Adding insult to injury, the food wasn’t that good, Charlebois said. The mac and cheese was OK, but the patties were soft, didn’t hold together and had no juices.

“This may be an opportunity for you,” he said to the beef crowd.

Few people are actually converting to veganism, but flexitarianism is on the rise. This is a category of people who may eat meat only on weekends, for example.

Providing those consumers with affordable beef over expensive meat replacements will keep them eating it, he said.

Charlebois found in a survey that about a third of Canadians were willing to reduce their meat consumption within six months. He also found women more than men were able to recognize that there are protein substitutes for meat.

There were 15 people in line waiting for that vegan butcher to open, and 14 of them were women.

Only two of the consumers were actually vegan.

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