Meatless Meat

A couple of years back at the Kiserian Slaughterhouse, I casually told my mother that traditional meat was doomed; that soon enough people will be eating meat grown in labs. She laughed the idea off and called it ridiculous.

Is it though?

Meatless meat currently exists and there’s several companies invested in the research and development of meat derived from plant products. The benefits, especially for the environment, are immense. The modern agricultural industry is one of the major contributors to environmental concerns and global warming. In the first place, large scale livestock farming contributes to greenhouse gas production. Cattle produce methane (primarily through belching), which is more of a significant greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Furthermore, a majority of our global freshwater is used for agricultural purposes. The transport resources used to deliver such meat products from source to the final consumer also contribute to global warming through the use of fossil fuels, and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Other than this, overconsumption of meat is linked to various health problems. The major issue for most consumers is that meat is just too tasty to forego. There need to be an alternative that not only tastes as good, but also matches the price.

The first place I learnt about the various companies dealing in meatless meat (Beyond Meat; Impossible Foods) is on Sunny Bindra’s email newsletter. Similar predictions were made over half a century ago as seen below:

We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.

Winston Churchill

The difference between meatless meat and vegetarian meat alternatives is that the former aims to look, feel and taste exactly like meat. Various meatless meat products have been tried by people such as Bill Gates and Piers Morgan, all of who note the difficulty in distinguishing meatless meat from actual meat. As an article in the Guardian observed:

“Hi-tech, plant-based protein alternatives, meanwhile, are starting to give meat a run for its money. Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat makes chicken strips largely from a protein in peas, and beef burgers that bleed beetroot juice. After Bill Gates tried a Beyond Chicken taco, he blogged about being fooled into thinking it was the real thing. Meanwhile the Impossible burger exploded out of Silicon Valley and is available in restaurants across the US. It is uncannily beef-like, oozing cholesterol-free fat and pink through the middle. Impossible’s not-so-secret ingredient is heme, a compound that is abundant in meat but can be sourced from plants. According to Impossible’s blurb, heme is what makes “meat sizzle, bleed and taste gloriously meaty.”

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