Beyond Meat goes public with Burger King, who is releasing a plant-based burger, and Tyson Foods, which recently announces plant-based nuggets, realizes one thing: a meatless revolution is upon us.
To see where the future lies Much of the food could possibly be on the way. I tested a vegetarian diet for three weeks – a real challenge for someone who includes meat in almost every meal.
In addition to the difficulty of the task, it took place in a part of the world where meat consumption is high: Asia.
14 Days in Bali
The first two weeks were spent in a surfer and yoga city ̵
In fact, plant-based food is so popular in this city that many pubs have advertised, "Try our vegan burger!" or "Now we offer vegan pad Thai!"
This has created an opportunity for entrepreneurs like Sophia Made who opened Plant Cartel, a fully vegan fast food restaurant. Although you never know from outside or from the menu bar that it's vegan like many others.
"We are happiest when a lot of people come in and do not even realize their diet is herbal," Made told CNBC. "You know, we're not trying to trick people."
Made wants to change the perception that such food is only for vegans.
"The stigma of vegan tofu cooking is not there," she said. "We wanted to normalize vegetable foods and encourage both omnivores and vegans to eat here."
Many of the staple foods like burgers and hot dogs are made with seitan – a popular meat substitute made from wheat gluten. At Plant Cartel, cheese is made from carrots and potatoes, and bacon is made from eggplant.
Hopes that producing staple foods from plants will encourage people to rethink the amount of meat they need to consume.
] While many of the meals I ate during my experiment were salads and protein bowls, making a place like Plant Cartel certainly made it easier to consume vegetarians and vegans without feeling disadvantaged.
Two weeks after the experiment – while still craving for meat – I still felt good and energetic.
7 days in Hong Kong, a meat lover's paradise
Next we went to Hong Kong – a city with one of the highest meat consumption per capita – where I quickly realized that the choices are much more limited.
In Hong Kong, many of the restaurants I visited had no vegetarian dishes on the menu. On request, however, some employees offer to exchange chicken or beef with tofu. There were also cases where one employee falsely offered fishballs' soup as an alternative to meat.
In addition, I found that an average business lunch in Hong Kong often consists of pork or beef and soon realized that this is a vegan lifestyle. There will be a lot more work going on in this city.
Manav Gupta, founder of venture capital firm Brinc, lives in the Asian city and has been a vegetarian all his life.
"Meat was presented today as a product that makes you feel more like a man, more like a human that gives you more protein and that is nutritious," he said. "While vegetable food is the food of the animals, it is the food that you should give to the animals, and that's why you should eat them," he said.
Gupta believes that much of what people eat results in social acceptance.
"When you go to a restaurant and eat with your peers, you think, if you eat vegan or vegan [etarian] this is almost depleting in many ways," he said. "So many people choose to eat meat or consume meat, even though they are sometimes open to consuming the herbal alternative."
The "flexitarian" diet
After three weeks I soon started eating meat again, but not as often as before the experiment started.
Of course there is even an unofficial label for this type of diet called "flexitarian" – someone who eats mainly on a plant basis but occasionally eats meat too.
While global meat consumption is increasing, driven by countries such as China and Brazil, some evidence has shown that consumption has peaked in countries such as the US and the UK.
] For the time being, however, only 5% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians, according to a recent poll by Gallop. This number has hardly changed since 1999.
So the future of food may not be meatless but less meat.