Another tactic: Beyond Meat avoids placing the label “vegan” anywhere on the product packaging to avoid scaring off potential customers.  

Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, a group of 89 member food and beverage companies that works to promote vegan and vegetarian eating, agrees that “plant-based” is significantly more approachable to shoppers than “vegan,” a loaded word that reminds many shoppers of protests, fighting the status quo, drastic ideology and, let’s face it, every so often subpar meals (some vegan recipes from the 1970s make us cringe). Although “vegan” and “plant-based” essentially mean the same thing, the latter highlights the delicious bounty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that can be consumed. Another example: Califia Farms, makers of nut milks, refers to its products as plant milks, not vegan milks. Although subtle, pairing improved meat and dairy alternatives with specific branding that appeals to all shoppers, not just vegans, effectively encourages people to eat fewer animal products.

That said, plant-based burgers alone won’t significantly impact how often people eat meat and dairy. Rather, Simon explains plant-based options need to permeate all sections of the grocery store to make measurable change. “I don’t think it’s going to be just a couple of brands who are aiming to mimic meat, but rather a variety of options that are appealing to different consumers,” she says. “Just like not all meat eaters only like burgers, for example, we need to appeal to a variety of consumer needs and desires. In short, we need to take over the meat aisle.”