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Bruce Friedrich: Will plant-based meat become the new fast food?

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Bruce Friedrich: We need a new space race on food. The government that manages to divorce meat from the need for living animals is going to have bragging rights until the end of time.

NEIL KING: McDonald’s introduction of the “McPlant” product line is further proof that meat alternatives are here to stay. But can they really replace meat in the long run? Bruce Friedrich is the founder and executive director of the Good Food Institute (GFI), an international non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that strives for alternatives to conventional agriculture products. DW’s environment podcast team “On the Green Fence” spoke with Bruce about the future of food as part of a series on meat consumption:

DW: What, in your opinion, is wrong with eating meat?

Industrial animal meat production causes more climate change than all forms of transportation combined. The United Nations looked at it. It said whatever issue we’re looking at from an environmental standpoint, industrial meat production is one of the top three causes – species loss, soil, desertification, water pollution. Right now, we’re all living through COVID-19, and the UN Environment Program just a couple of months ago asked, “How do we prevent the next COVID-19?” They listed seven things, and the first one was that we need less industrial animal meat production…

DW: But do you seriously believe that the majority of meat eaters will switch to plant-based products voluntarily?

What is meat? It’s made up of lipids, amino acids, minerals and water. That’s all it is. That stuff exists in plants. Scientists can solve this problem by bio-mimicking meat from plants. And for people who just want to eat animal meat, we can use standard tissue engineering techniques. We can grow meat directly from cells. It will be a healthier and more efficient product that frees up vast quantities of land. It’s really a win-win-win. We need a new space race essentially focused on food. The government that manages to divorce meat production from the need for living animals is going to have bragging rights until the end of time…

DW: What do you see as the main obstacles to getting these alternative products into the mass market?

The only way to get mainstream acceptance is if the products taste the same or better and cost the same or less. And we are not there yet. The products cost more and often don’t give meat eaters everything they’re looking for from a taste profile perspective…

DW: So when will these plant-based products actually make the inroads you’re hoping for?

On our current trajectory, meat production just goes up and up. 2019 was the highest per capita meat consumption in recorded history. This is planet-on-fire stuff. The former head of the World Health Organization said, we are literally looking at the end of modern medicine due to antibiotic resistance. So, this is a global health crisis and an environmental crisis. We really need more entrepreneurs and more scientists to focus on this. And governments really need to wake up to the fact that this is deserving of lots of resources. Right now. It’s just getting drops, but it needs to get a fire hose. SOURCE…

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