Airline Air New Zealand has received backlash from the country’s meat industry after adding the Impossible Burger to its in-flight menu this week. New Zealand Member of Parliament Mark Patterson spoke out against the new menu item, calling it a “slap in the face” to the country’s $6 billion red meat industry and classifying it as “an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner.” Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters echoed Patterson’s sentiment. “Air New Zealand is an airline built by the New Zealand taxpayer, was privatized, was bailed out by the New Zealand taxpayer, and is there because of the taxpayer,” Peters said. “Some of the taxpayers are the farming industry who want to ensure they get top end of the product market offshore, and our airline should be its number one marketer.”
Air New Zealand released a response to the controversy, upholding its decision to add the Impossible Burger to its menu. “Indeed, the international media coverage over the past 24 hours positioning Air New Zealand as an innovative airline and, by association, New Zealand as a desirable place to visit has been invaluable,” the statement read. Many New Zealand residents are voicing their approval of the new menu item, including local surgeon Mark Smith, MD, who believes the meatless addition is a step in the right direction to help curb the country’s growing obesity epidemic. “I’m not saying that we should all stop eating meat or dairy, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that we could all do with a bit less meat or dairy in our diet,” Smith, who identifies as pescatarian, told media outlet Otago Daily Times. “That would be beneficial for our health in many ways, especially concerning obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”
New Zealand vegan company Sunfed Meats—which is popular for its Chicken Free Chicken products—announced this week on social media that it is developing a vegan “No Bull Burger” prompting the brand’s followers to tag Air New Zealand with the recommendation that the airline add Sunfed’s new product to its menu to support innovative New Zealand-based businesses. “What better way to stop those who are bleating about supporting New Zealand’s agricultural sector,” commentator Craig Davidson posted, “than by bringing onboard Sunfed Meats Chicken free Chicken and Bull Free Burger.”
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