There is a reason why we often use the term “sausage-making process” to describe rather unpleasant things, from passing legislation to deciding on yet another new corporate policy. But not all sausage-making is something to turn away from. That’s somewhat true of plant-based sausage, which by just about any measure has far less of an impact on water, energy and the climate than the meat-based options; and, of course, there’s the animal welfare argument.
One would think the proliferation of plant-based sausage, burgers, strips for stir-fry and fake ground meat would lead to a glut, but the evidence suggests there is still an untapped market. More restaurants and fast-food chains have included analog meat on their menus, and after the shortages that hit many retailers during the worst of the pandemic, more consumers tried, and actually liked, plant-based alternatives as an option.
To that end, Impossible Foods, which has sent multiple jolts across the food industry since it first rolled out its “bloody” animal product-free burger several years ago, said this week it will have two plant-based sausage products appear on retailers’ shelves across the U.S., from Albertsons to Wegmans.
The “savory” and “spicy” options from Impossible Foods will look like those sausage rolls that have long been in your local supermarket’s cold case — only instead of containing pork or other meats, the ingredients include soy, sunflower oil and coconut oil.
Considering all the concern over the latest IPCC report on the climate crisis, Impossible Foods’ plant-based sausage announcement is prescient. After all, there is no dispute that the global meat industry has its own huge impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world is home to well over 1 billion pigs, with an average weight of about 250 pounds, and that total farmed pig biomass approaches 400 billion pounds. Accounting for almost 40 percent of meat production across the globe, pigs are the most widely eaten animal in the world. Each year, more than 121 million pigs are killed in the U.S. alone for the making of food products like sausage.
Even if math isn’t your bailiwick, it’s not hard to visualize the impact that this segment of the worldwide livestock industry alone has on the planet. Impossible Foods counters that its plant-based sausage requires almost 80 percent less water and about 40 percent less land than the raising of pigs. And as for those emissions, the plant-based alternatives emit a sliver of their meat-based competitors.
Impossible Foods has an online calculator that can give consumers an idea of how its plant-based sausage and burgers stack up compared to meat alternatives.
For fans of the plant-based sausage, which has already been a staple at Burger King and Starbucks, they’ll now be able to make their own breakfasts at home, with a product that also claims it has about half the fat and 30 percent less calories.
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.