Can fake meat really save the planet

November 21, 2019

They say ”Nothing Is Impossible”. That’s exactly what ‘‘Impossible Foods” a company in California is here to prove! As the whole world is moving towards a more sustainable way of doing business, some companies are setting a new level of standards for others to follow. We all love to attack that juicy beef burger or pork chops from time to time. But most of us are unaware of the animal cruelty and health consequences that attribute to this. However, is plant-based meat really the answer?

What exactly is plant-based meat and how is it prepared?

In simplest terms, it’s just a meat substitute genetically modified to look and taste like real meat itself. The primary ingredients typically consist of soybeans, wheat gluten, lentils, tofu, yuba, peas, and a variety of nuts. Every company in this sector has a different method of producing their product. Impossible Foods is using cellular agriculture to make Heme, an essential iron molecule found in every living plant and animal which is then used in their plant-based meat products. Beyond Burger uses a different approach using beet juice extract to give it a look and feel of real meat.

Financial Impact

According to Euromonitor International, the meat substitute market will grow to $22.9 billion in 2023 compared to the $19.5 billion in 2018. With the fast-changing consumer trends, multinational corporations like Nestle and Tyson are now moving in to have a share of the growing market. Nestle has formed a partnership with McDonald’s to sell plant-based meat substitutes in Germany and is aggressively marketing its products in Europe. Tyson has come up with its own line of plant-based meat products. However; being a first-mover won’t be enough as it all comes down to taste and price. The very first lab-grown Burger cost a whopping $1.2 million. But the prices have considerably reduced due to the scalability of such companies. Currently, an ”Impossible Whopper’‘ costs just a dollar more at Burger King while Beyond Meat is selling its retail unit at $5.99 (two 4-ounces patties).

Current Trends

Companies indulging in plant-based meat production across the globe are gaining significant attention from the media, consumers as well as investors. Beyond meat is valued at $4.4 billion as the share prices are increasing rapidly. With the growing awareness amongst the consumers about sustainability and animal cruelty, more and more people are switching to veganism. Companies creating plant-based meat alternatives are seeing a massive surge in demand. People are becoming more conscious about what they consume and where it comes from. They are trying to reduce their impact on the planet and live a more sustainable life

On the contrary, the European Union has proposed a regulation to ban meat-free products from using terminology commonly associated with meat. It’sIt’s implemented to avoid confusion amongst the consumers and bring in more transparency in labelling. Experts believe that this may lead to more confusion and a negative effect. Moreover, campaigners like ProVeg are rallying against the proposed regulation. They have even created an online petition which is currently signed by over 68,000 people.

Sustainability

We kill 56 billion animals every year to meet the food requirements of 7.6 billion people. Livestock farming accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It also occupies 83% of farmland across the globe. So what do plant-based meat products bring to the table when we talk about sustainability?

A study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems on the life cycle analysis of ‘‘Beyond Burger” states that it generates 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less non-renewable energy, has more than 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of US beef. A recent poll also found that 43% of consumers are more likely to try meat alternatives today than just five years ago. While the figures might not be absolute, it can considerably improve the current state of our planet. If companies can provide consumers with products that emulate everything about animal meat without killing billions of animals and leads to a more sustainable future, it’s a no brainer!

Can fake meat really save the planet? The answer depends on the choices we make as a consumer. Will you try the plant-based meat burger or will you stick to the traditional meat? Leave us a comment on what will be your choice!

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