Even though around 20 million Americans identify as vegan and 30 percent of Americans are not only leaving meat off their plates but also seeking out plant-based meat alternatives, there is still much work to be done to combat the disastrous impact industrial animal agriculture is having on the planet.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent. In addition, industrial animal agriculture is quickly depleting our land and water resources – and despite all the resources used, it’s failing to feed the world.

Nearly one billion people suffering from hunger across the globe and as the population continues to mount to 9.7 billion by 2050, we simply won’t be able to sustain more people eating a diet high in animal products.

The question of how we’re going to meet the protein needs of the planet is rapidly becoming the biggest challenge of our time. It’s no secret that the developed world is obsessed with protein, with the average person in the U.S. consuming 103 grams per day, around double the actual recommended amount, two-thirds of which comes from animal sources. Naturally, the first step to building a more sustainable food system starts with consumers eating less meat and dairy – but there is a large percent of the population that will likely never give up their bacon cheeseburgers. So how can we possibly feed a planet that is obsessed with meat? That’s where lab-grown (cultured) meat comes in.

We have heard a lot of hype from companies like Memphis Meats and Supermeat who are setting out to create meat – without slaughtering a single animal – but there is a brand new player in the space, Hampton Creek. 

The start-up, best known for their vegan mayo just revealed some very exciting news … for the last year, the company has been working on “developing the technology necessary for producing lab-made meat and seafood or as the industry likes to call it, ‘clean meat.’” What’s more, they plan to release a product on the market very soon. “By the end of next year, we’ll have something out there on the marketplace,” Josh Tetrick, CEO of the company, told Quartz.

Memphis Meats has already succeeded at producing a lab-cultured meatball and chicken nugget, but they estimate it will take another four years until they’re ready to sell a product commercially. Given the speed at which Hampton Creek plans to get their product to market, this could be a major game changer for the clean meat sector.

By now, we’re guessing you probably have a lot of questions about how clean meat is being made and how it is that a fully lab-produced product could make it to grocery store shelves in just a years time – and we have some good news, in a recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, Bruce Friedrich, the Executive Director of the Good Food Institute (GFI) and founding partner of New Crop Capital, explains exactly how it can be done.

In the episode, Bruce dives deeper into the research that is being done in the food tech space to make clean meat possible and discusses the specifics related to how companies, like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and scientists are creating plant-based proteins that can perfectly mimic meat.

You can listen to the full episode on the following platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher.

If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast for new episodes with food industry leaders, health, and sustainability experts, as well as entrepreneurs and creative minds who are redefining the future of food.

Lead image source: Hampton Creek