The growing enthusiasm for vegetarian versions of juicy burgers and sausages has led to such an enthusiasm that even traditional meat producers are trying to take part in the campaign.
The big players try to use the success of products from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.
JBS, the world's largest beef producer, has been selling a soy burger in Brazil that contains beets, garlic and onions and resembles a rare minced meat since the summer.
The largest US meat producer Tyson Foods launched a new line of vegetable proteins and meat-vegetable mixes called "Raised & Rooted" in June.
Competitors Hormel Foods, Perdue Farms and Smithfield have launched similar initiatives to enter this new market.
"Our eating culture is changing rapidly," said Bryan Kreske, brand manager at Hormel Foods.
There is an "increasing curiosity and motivation to try tasty alternative protein sources such as plant-based proteins while reducing the consumption of animal protein".
Regardless of whether it's the start of a new trend or a temporary fantasy, the food giants don't want to miss the opportunity.
Instead of turning to vegetarians, they track the 95 percent of consumers who eat meat.
However, unlike the new alternative meat companies that lead the carbon footprint of cows and other farm animals, traditional gamblers find it more difficult to use environmental or animal rights arguments for their products.
Instead, they often focus on health benefits.
"It's more about our customers including more plants and vegetables in their diet and less about reducing meat consumption," said Eric Christianson, Marketing Manager at Perdue.
Perdue, known for its chicken, launched its "Chicken Plus" products in September, which include child-friendly nuggets made from a mixture of chicken, chickpeas and cauliflower.
The company is banking heavily on this new product: half of its 2020 marketing budget will go towards promoting this product, with spending particularly high in January "when people are really in the mood to eat healthy," said Christianson ,
"Plant curious" consumers
Soy burgers have been around for decades. Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger have worked over the past 10 years to develop products that, thanks to ingredients such as beets, come closer to the taste, texture and aroma of real meat.
These products hit the headlines this year with their introduction to fast food chains such as Burger King & # 39; s Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat's spectacular Wall Street debut.
The traditional meat producers quickly jumped on the train.
At Hormel, the Happy Little Plants brand "developed from a concept idea that is rooted in the" crop-prone "consumer to a commercially profitable product line" in just under 13 weeks, "said Kreske.
But while these meat producers are not planning to give up their main business, the mission, according to Impossible Foods, is to replace animal proteins in the food system by 2035.
That could be too optimistic. In the market for milk alternatives, vegetable drinks such as soy or almond milk only make up 13 percent of sales.
"There is really a health reason for dairy products not to consume dairy products, including allergies," said Perdues Christianson.
But for meat, "it becomes more of a lifestyle choice to eat healthier."
Still, the alternative meat segment could become "significant," he said.
Robert Martin, who specializes in food policy at Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Good Future, said traditional producers enter the vegetable meat market "out of their own economic interest" so they don't lose market share.
He called the trend "worrying" and warned it "could have the side effect of suppressing innovation and competition."
Nevertheless, he sees every herbal alternative as a "positive step" and adds that larger companies can achieve "economies of scale" in the production of these herbal products and thus lower prices.
"They stopped talking about themselves as meat companies, they now call themselves protein companies," said Martin.