Bruce Friedrich, the Executive Director of the Good Food Institute (GFI) and founding partner of New Crop Capital, recently gave an inspiring TEDx talk that breaks down how clean meat and plant-based proteins are going to save the planet. No, really!

Freidrich starts off by discussing food waste, explaining the average American citizen throws out roughly 20 pounds of food per month. What’s potentially worse, though, is the waste built into food production … and it is wreaking havoc on the planet.

The standard Western diet, which centers around meat and dairy, is extremely resource intensive. In order to produce animal products, land, water, and energy are required to grow, harvest, and transport the feed that is then fed to the farmed animals. We currently produce enough calories to feed 10-11 billion people worldwide, however, the majority of this food goes to feed livestock, not hungry people. In fact, it is estimated that people who eat beef use 160 times more land, water, and fuel resources to sustain their diets than their plant-based counterparts.

So, what’s the solution? If our collective demand for animal products continues to grow as we approach a population of 9.8 billion by 2050, we simply won’t have the space or water needed to keep up. Friedrich states there is a simple answer: animal-free meat. And venture capital firms, entrepreneurs, and major corporations are taking notice on this technological trend.

Canadian meat processor, Maple Leaf Foods, acquired Lightlife Foods, a producer of plant-based products such as tempeh, vegan sausages, and burgers. Cargill, one of the world’s largest beef suppliers has teamed up with a pea protein producer to meet the ever-growing demand for plant-based proteins. Food giant Nestlé recently bought Sweet Earth Foods, a Californian-based company known for vegan meals and snacks made from plant-based proteins. If that’s wasn’t enough, Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor, recently invested in the first clean meat company, Memphis Meats (Tyson also just recently invested AGAIN in the plant-based company, Beyond Meat!). With the plant-based meat market set to reach $6.43 billion by 2023, it certainly seems that this demand and shift Friedrich talks about is HAPPENING.

There is an undeniable shift and it’s towards a more sustainable, plant-based food system. Because the reality is, people are likely never going to stop eating meat – but if they have the option to choose a product that is better for the environment and animals then we could truly see a major shift in our food system.

As Bruce relays in the TEDx talk, when Bill Gates first tasted Beyond Meat’s plant-based chicken he said, “What I just tasted was not just a clever meat substitute, what I just tasted was the future of food.” The future of food is here and it is plant-based!

To learn more about clean meat and the people working to make it a reality, check out this recent episode of the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast featuring Bruce Friedrich: