Factory farming will be replaced by innovations like plant-based and clean meat in the ‘not too distant future’, according to a leading food expert.
Clean meat – also known as lab, bio, or cultured meat – is built using animal cells. It is therefore not vegan, though some vegans choose to support the concept, as it has the potential to reduce the number of animals slaughtered for food.
It is also a more environmentally friendly option than traditional livestock farming.
Plant-based meat doesn’t involve any cells, and is made entirely from plants.
Bruce Friedrich is the Executive Director of the Good Food Institute [GFI] – a nonprofit organization that promotes innovative alternatives to conventional meat, dairy products, and eggs.
During a recent TEDx talk, Friedrich talked about issues around meat production.
Friedrich started his talk by giving a plate of pasta to an audience member, then throwing eight plates into a bin bag, as the audience gasped.
He said: “Throwing away food is a horrible idea.
“And yet that’s basically the relationship all of us enter into, every time we choose to eat meat.
“Because a chicken – just one example – it takes nine calories into a chicken, in the form of soy, and oats, and wheat and whatever the food is that’s fed to the chicken – to get one calorie back out.”
The TEDx talk
According to Friedrich, of every 100 calories of food we produce, we throw away 40.
He says: “And yet food that’s produced by funnelling crops through chickens, it’s actually 800 percent food waste.
“For every 100 calories of chicken we produce – and chicken is the most efficient meat – we throw away 800 calories by cycling it through the chicken.”
He adds: “That means eight times as much land, eight times as much water, eight times as much gasoline to till the crops, eight times as much pesticide dumped onto crops.
“And that’s not all of it – there are also multiple extra stages of production required if we’re to grow crops to feed them to animals so we can eat animals.”
He explains that you have to grow the crops and ship them on a gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing vehicle to a feed mill, and you operate the feed mill.
“And then you ship the feed on a gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing vehicle to an industrial farm, and you operate that farm, and you ship the animals to a slaughterhouse, and you operate that slaughterhouse. Multiple extra stages – it’s not a great way to feed 9.8 billion people by 2050.”
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Friedrich cites Beyond Meat Founder Ethan Brown as a pioneer in the plant-based meat movement.
He says: “It occurs to him that meat is made from lipids, amino acids, minerals, and water – everything in animal-based meat also exists in plants.
“So Brown’s plan is to make meat from plants…after about three years he comes out with a plant-based chicken, which Bill Gates describes as ‘the future of food’.”
He also references Impossible Foods Founder Pat Brown – who created the Impossible Burger in an attempt to stave off the impending climate crisis.
“And boy is it fantastic,” Friedrich claims.
The third pioneer he mentions is Uma Valeti – Founder of Memphis Meat. Considered a leader in the field, the brand plans to bring clean meat to the mass market by 2020.
“Clean meat is cleaner,” says Friedrich. “There is no slaughterhouse, there are no antibiotics.”
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Friedrich says he’s convinced that in the ‘not too distant future’, the idea of growing massive quantities of crops, to funnel them through animals, so we can eat meat, will be seen as absurd.
“Visionaries have understood that we can make meat from plants, and we can grow meat without all of the inefficiencies and without all the pollution,” he says.
“Markets and food technology are going to save the world.”