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Oscar Mayer unveils brand-new products with an unconventional twist: 'Tell me that's not a hot dog'

"The Kraft Heinz Not Company now plans to expand into further categories and has already begun expanding internationally."

"The Kraft Heinz Not Company now plans to expand into further categories and has already begun expanding internationally."

Photo Credit: iStock

Summer is just around the corner, which means hot dogs will be hitting grills across the country, and for the first time in its 141-year history, Oscar Mayer is bringing meatless dogs to the party. 

Oscar Mayer, a subsidiary of Kraft Heinz, is launching a line of plant-based hot dogs, brats, and Italian sausages. It's all part of Kraft Heinz's partnership with NotCo, a Chilean food-tech company that uses AI and machine learning to duplicate meat-based food using only "plant-based goodness."

According to Green Queen, the NotHotDogs and NotSausages are expected to be available in stores across the United States in Q2 this year, just in time for summer. 

One of the biggest hurdles for plant-based meat alternatives is matching the taste and texture of actual meat. According to the Bon Appétit staff, the Oscar Mayer faux dogs passed those tests with flying colors. 

"Tell me that's not a hot dog!" senior cooking editor Emma Laperruque said of her NotHotDog, with another person claiming that they would think it was made with meat if they hadn't known better. 

Oscar Mayer's plant-based offerings come at a time when the alternative meat industry is struggling. According to Green Queen, retail sales of plant-based meats dropped 11% last year. 

However, more people are shifting their diets away from animal-based food. One study shows that nearly 80% of the Gen Z population eats a plant-based meal at least once a week, and 65% say they want a more plant-forward diet

Eating more plant-based food has a plethora of benefits, including boosting your immune system, maintaining a healthy body weight, and lowering your risk of cancer. It's also cheaper to eat more veggies — being vegetarian costs $2 less per day.

Plus, there's the devastating environmental impact of producing animal-based food. According to the University of Colorado Boulder, raising livestock for food is responsible for almost 15% of planet-heating gas pollution — more than the air pollution from the transportation sector. It also takes up nearly 70% of agricultural land, contributing to deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution.  

On top of all of that, animal cruelty is also a significant problem in the food industry. The unethical treatment of animals is rampant in factory farms

These reasons are the driving force behind most people's decision to be vegetarians or vegans. However, there is a growing "flexitarian" movement of people who want to reduce their meat consumption to limit the impact on the environment or their health but still want to enjoy a cheeseburger or steak now and then. 

Adding delicious plant-based imitations of animal-based foods, like Oscar Mayer's hot dogs or Ben & Jerry's non-dairy ice cream, allows us to enjoy those types of food without the guilt. Supporting eco-friendly options from our favorite brands is also the easiest way to show these companies that what's best for the environment is also what's best for the brand's bottom line. 

Kraft Heinz Company CEO Lucho Lopez-May told Bloomberg, "Being able to borrow the flavour note, the flavouring systems, and incorporate those into a completely different matrix — it's a massive technological accomplishment." 

According to Green Queen, "The Kraft Heinz Not Company now plans to expand into further categories and has already begun expanding internationally." 

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