The Impossible Burgergate Debate


Impossible Burgergate is currently happening in little ole Aotearoa and it’s dividing the country. One might ask how Air New Zealand’s announcement that they will be serving the Impossible Burger on some of their LAX flights has caused such a commotion? Not me. It’s easy to see what is happening here.


Beef & Lamb New Zealand took it upon themselves to comment on Air New Zealand’s post saying that Air New Zealand should be offering their customers some grass fed, free range beef and lamb. It’s obvious this is a sign of an industry in trouble. The threat of a new and exciting food product that tastes like meat, looks like meat and yet doesn’t have environmental or animal welfare consequences to it, is being offered up by our premium award-winning airline.

The comment by Beef & Lamb New Zealand got hammered from all walks of life. My favourite: “no one wants to eat your dead animals grampa.” That comment made my day. I imagine this only scared our animal agribusiness more because they tried yet again to contact Air New Zealand, this time publicly offering their customers a “juicy beef burger on the way back from LAX”. They were ignored once again and then the worry must have started bubbling because then all sorts of crazy happened. MPs start objecting to the burger. Even our own acting Prime Minister Winston Peters criticised Air New Zealand for offering the new vegetarian option on some of their flights.

I think those MPs are forgetting that our very own Ministry for Primary Industries published a report on alternative proteins just recently in June that featured the Impossible Burger. In fact, the burger had its own section in the report and was the star in an infographic that compared it to a conventional meat patty. Guess what, the Impossible happened and it turns out the plant-based patty was far better for the environment using significantly less water and land. It also contained more iron than red meat!

Other concerns raised around red meat are health-related. In fact, Dunedin surgeon Mark Smith who specialises in surgery on the obese came out in support of Air New Zealand’s decision to have a meat-free burger option. Dr Smith told the ODT “I’m not saying that we should all stop eating meat or dairy, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that we could all do with a bit less meat or dairy in our diet. That would be beneficial for our health in many ways, especially concerning obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

An important conversation is well overdue in our country and if we don’t have it, our economy really will be in trouble. Plant-based protein is coming. It’s coming in hard and fast, and if we don’t embrace it we will be left behind. Instead of it being ‘Impossible Burgergate’ it will be, ‘Our economy is screwed-gate’.

Join the thousands of Kiwi’s taking our Eat Kind Challenge! Get handy tips, tricks and recipes, while learning more about plant-based diet. 

By Krysta Neave, Eat Kind Programme Director.


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