New Zealand politicians upset by airline adding vegan burgers

The decision by Air New Zealand to offer Impossible Burgers to business class passengers is seen as a risk to NZ farming

This week Air New Zealand announced they were adding the innovative plant-based Impossible Burger to the Business Premier Menu on flights between LA and Auckland.

Air New Zealand’s Inflight Customer Experience Manager Niki Chave says the airline has been watching Impossible Foods for some time and has been impressed with the work it’s doing.

“Like Impossible Foods, we are committed to offering our customers a fresh and innovative approach to cuisine. We’re incredibly excited about this partnership and the opportunity to offer our Business Premier customers travelling from Los Angeles to Auckland a delicious plant-based option that tastes just like the real deal.

Impossible burger

Image credit: Air New Zealand

But, it looks like the New Zealand farming lobby and politicians have got their knickers in a twist about this forward-thinking move by the airline.

“The national carrier should be showcasing our premium quality grass-fed New Zealand red meat, not promoting a product that has the potential to pose an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner,” claimed New Zealand First party’s primary industries spokesman Mark Patterson said.

“Disappointing to see Air NZ promoting a GE substitute meat burger on its flights to the USA,” stated National Party MP Nathan Guy on Twitter.

And James Parsons, a sheep and cow farmer from New Zealand, added, “The rub here isn’t Air New Zealand offering a vegetarian menu option, it is the fact it is actively promoting via video a food that is completely disassociated with NZ and the countries values of natural, pure and non GMO, aimed at displacing NZ products.”

Impossible Foods are changing the meat landscape in a similar way to Facebook changing the media landscape or Uber transforming the taxi industry. This disruption is bound to upset the farmers and the meat industry, but as people were quick to point out on Twitter Air New Zealand are only moving with the times.

“If we sit here producing meat and don’t get our foot into new technology and industries that may possibly replace our own, we’re definitely sticking our head in the sand.” wrote one Twitter user in response to Nathan Guy’s tweet.

Another person added their voice in agreement, tweeting, “You sound like the CEO of Blockbuster complaining about Netflix. Your tweet should be saying… Game on NZ… let’s join this movement for healthy sustainable food – right up our alley!!”

Another person pointed out that at this stage its just an option: “You know it’s a vegetarian burger, right? And that vegetarians don’t eat lamb or beef? And that beef and lamb options are available to those who prefer them?”

We think this is a really positive step in the right direction and Air New Zealand should be applauded for adding the future of meat to their menus. Compared to a burger made from cows, making an Impossible Burger uses about 1/20th the land, 1/4th the water, and produces 1/8th the greenhouse gas emissions. The Impossible Burger also has the health benefits of being free from contaminants associated with beef production. It also contains 0mg of cholesterol. And, most importantly, animals do not need to die against their will during the manufacturing process.

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