As more countries continue to develop and the world’s population gets closer to reaching 9 billion by 2050, food consumption is growing along with it. Meat consumption alone has doubled in the last 20 years, and most of us know by now that meat production is a grueling process that takes an intense toll on the environment.
Bill Gates recently discussed this conundrum on his blog in a post titled “Future of Food,” where he explores the environmental impact of meat consumption and some more sustainable alternatives.
“Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people,” he wrote. “Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.”
His solution is to rely more on companies such as Hampton Creek Foods and Beyond Meat, who both produce vegan meats that apparently taste delicious without using animal products. Both experiment with turning plants into food that tastes like meat and eggs, and Gates says he was “impressed” by Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative and couldn’t tell the difference between it and real chicken.
There’s no doubt that a lot of people will not be interested in this, at least not yet. However, another interesting product he mentioned comes from a company called Nu-Tek Food Science, which turns potassium chloride into salt with considerably less sodium.
Overall, Gates sees these new products as having huge market potential since the farm-to-table process has not changed much and it’s probably time for an overhaul. His article is filled with infographics and stats on what needs to change, and plenty of information on healthy alternatives that could feed more people without the use of factory farming.
I think one of the biggest obstacles will be the old animal protein argument, since it seems to be the biggest defense for eating chicken and beef. Do you think products like this could catch on during the next decade or so, or are people in developed countries too headstrong about their meat products?
Image: Beyond Meat