How often do you think people think about the meat on their plates? Aside from maybe how it tastes, smells, or was prepared – perhaps a quick mention of it was grass-fed or not – not a whole lot of thought goes into what makes meat possible. And with good reason. We might hold onto the idyllic image of a farm with free roaming animals who have “one bad day” in their lives, but the reality is that meat production is an industrial industry involving billions of domesticated animals. Just consider the fact that in the United States, 99.9 percent of chickens used for meat, 99 percent of turkeys, 95 percent of pigs, and 78 percent of cattle come from factory farms.
It may seem “efficient” to raise such a large volume of animals in this way, but we’re actually draining an exorbitant amount of resources to sustain this industry. At current rates, the livestock system occupies over 50 percent of the world’s arable land, uses 23 percent of all freshwater, and consumes a large majority of crop resources worldwide. Additionally, it is responsible for rampant deforestation, water and air pollution, and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined. Effectively, what animal agriculture does is make our ability to feed the world’s population more difficult and highly unsustainable.
So in the face of this, knowing that the world’s population is set to reach nine billion by 2050, there is an enormous opportunity rising for us to change the way we think about meat. This video from New Harvest, a non-profit research institute focused on accelerating breakthroughs in cellular agriculture to reinvent the way we make animal products, namely without animals at all, shows that there is an alternative in cultured meat. Working with companies like Memphis Meats, which successfully produced cultured meatballs, New Harvest aims to make a future where meat doesn’t need animals a reality.
“The first page of the story that will propel us into the future of food dominated by sustainable, non-animal based meats is being written today,” said Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet. “It is time to go beyond incremental improvements as a solution to our broken food system and prepare for some giant leaps.”
When these giant leaps involve an innovative product that replicates the taste, texture, and experience of eating meat that people love without the negative impact on the environment, animals or people’s health, they seem like the exact right ones to take. The future of food is being shaped right now, and it’s looking rather bright.