Bill Gates sees meat alternatives a a big part of the future of food. On his blog, The Gates Notes, there is a feature called The Future of Food, where he explains how food scientists are starting to reinvent meat, and how this could help the whole world.
Gate explains that worldwide meat consumption has doubled over the past two decades and is expected to double again by 2050 when, as we know, world population is expected to reach at least 9 billion. It is just over 7 billion now.
The economies of many developing countries are growing, so a lot more people are starting to be able to afford more meat. While less poverty in the world is a good thing, it takes a lot more resources (especially farmland and water) to meet that growing demand for meat. At the expected rate of growth, “the world will need millions of tonnes more meat than it does today”, Gates says. Meeting this demand is simply not sustainable.
As it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to become vegetarians, Gates sees part of the answer as the production of alternatives to meat and eggs. He points to several companies working on innovative solutions. Beyond Meat (which we have written about previously), and Hampton Creek Foods are both developing ways to use heat and pressure to turn plants into foods that look and taste just like meat and eggs. He says that when he tried it, he “couldn’t tell the difference between Beyond Meat and real chicken”.
Hampton Creek foods is working on a plant-based alternative for eggs. In one of the videos on Gates’ site, CEO and Founder Josh Tetrick explains that one of the big reasons they decided on eggs is that 1.1 trillion eggs (yes, trillion) were laid worldwide last year alone, and over 99% of these eggs come from battery cage farms. As well as the highly questionable conditions the chickens have to endure in these industrial-farming facilities, they require huge amounts of soy and corn. Instead of attempting to fix that broken system incrementally, the company is trying to invent a new model which involves using plant products to replicate eggs.
If they taste very similar and are good for your health, do you think meat and egg alternatives have the potential to curb resource-hungry meat production in the future?