The Future of Meat: Problems with the meat we are eating
- By 2050, the world population is projected to reach nearly 10 billion.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, food production must increase by 70% to feed this larger population.
- Our present food system is extremely inefficient as we feed grains to cows, goats, and chickens and then eat the animals. So, in essence, for every 9 calories of food fed to a chicken, we get 1 calorie back.
- Also, it takes nearly 20 times more land to feed people a meat-based diet compared to what a plant-based diet does, as crops are consumed directly instead of being used to feed animals, which also needs land.
- The meat industry wastes a tremendous amount of water too with about one-third of the world’s water consumption going for producing animal products
- Heavy antibiotics use in livestock and poultry feed is leading to an increase in antibiotic resistance, which is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
- Furthermore, greenhouse gas emissions from the meat industry are also very
- Meat Eating is also unethical. As a basic rule, an action that promotes the overall happiness of others is morally good, while an action that causes harm or suffering without good justification is morally wrong.
- So, making the transition from mass-produced animal proteins to plant-based alternatives in the near future is not just necessary to meet population demands but also has added benefits of smaller carbon footprint and lower disease risk.
Difference between Plant-based and cultured meat
- Several meat substitutes have been developed across the last decades and meat alternatives entirely made of vegetable components have gained market share.
- The first generation alternative proteins are products based on soy, such as Tofu, Seitan and Quorn.
- The second-generation alternatives are products that bleed, tastes and looks like meat.
- Insects are an additional source of natural proteins. In addition to sufficient minerals, they have high protein content.
- Finally, the third generation alternatives are culturing meat based on stem cell technology, also called clean meat.
- Both plant-based meat and clean meat are free of the negative externalities that animal meat production is responsible for, such as climate change.
- It is also healthier as it is free of antibiotics.
Important developments in the area
- Plant-based meats are made of plant-derived ingredients but are designed to look and taste like real meat.
- Cultured meat, on the other hand, is a fairly new concept that refers to meat grown in a lab from a small sample of cells taken from an anima.
- The procedure requires the extraction of stem cells from a donor animal, which then proliferate to produce animal tissue structures.
Future in India
- Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are the biggest companies in this sector.
- The Indian company Good Dot in Mumbai makes everything from burgers to kheema pav from plant-based meat.
- The world’s first cell-based meat company, Memphis Meats has found investment support from visionaries such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
- Globally, the Netherlands, the U.S., Israel, Japan, and Singapore are developing both plant-based and clean meat.
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- India’s population can benefit from making plant-based and clean meat available.
- India is uniquely poised to be a leader in this sector as crops such as millets, ragi, pulses, and chickpeas which grow here are ideal raw ingredients for plant-based meats.
- Also, the world’s first center of excellence for clean meat is going to be established in the state-funded Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT),
- This sector can alleviate the climate impact of the meat industry, augment farmers’ incomes, combat malnutrition and spare the lives of billions of animals.
- It is a time we as a people support it and encourage it to flourish.