The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

Going ‘Cold Turkey’: Will we save the world with meatless meat?


The story of the meat alternative is not as new as you may think, and drivers for their consumption have always been wide-ranging—as they remain today. But one stands out in the 2020s — Sustainability.

LAXMI HAIGH: Long gone are the days of plant-based meals being confined (at least in the mainstream mindset) to tofu and beans. This is not because vegetables have suddenly shifted form or learnt to sprout extra pockets of flavour. No, we have learnt how to love and nourish vegetables through cooking, embedding flavour layer on layer. And in the swinging plant-based food scene, the vast range of meat analogues, or ‘meat alternatives’, have been the breakout investment decisions of the 2020s. You name the meat product, and I bet there’s a pretty good alternative out there: steak, burger, calamari, gyros and more. It’s like being a kid in a plant-based candy shop… The story of the meat alternative is not as new as you may think, and drivers for their consumption have always been wide-ranging—as they remain today. But one stands out in the 2020s — sustainability…

Modern global meat habits which rely on industrial meat production have decimated the environment. This might sound dramatic, but industrial meat production accounts for the extinction of thousands of species. To grow the crops needed to feed hungry cattle, and to rear billions of animals, humans slash and burn biodiversity–rich habitats—such as the Amazon. Less than one-tenth of the world’s soy production—infamous as a driver of deforestation—is used to feed humans, for example, the vast majority being used to fatten farm animals. Between 2010 and 2020, a space of forest land larger than the size of the Netherlands was lost to agricultural purposes. The system is also full of loopholes, so even companies that pledge ‘deforestation-free meat’ cannot necessarily be trusted. Big beef is responsible for the Brazilian Amazon’s demise.

Industrial meat production is also a massive contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which are warming the world’s climate at a rapid—and dangerous—rate. When forests are destroyed in the name of meat, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are spewed into the atmosphere. Trees are also natural carbon sinks, meaning that when we cut them down, they can no longer soak up excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and help us mitigate climate change. The use of toxic synthetic fertilisers on farms also releases emissions and toxins into the ground and freshwater. Overall, animal agriculture is responsible for a large proportion of all greenhouse gas emissions, with researchers estimating between 57 and 87%.

Now, what of our growing taste for meat alternative products? Well, it’s good news on this front. Many of the big brands in the space tout their ‘green’ profile: Impossible Foods’ tagline is even ‘Eat Meat. Save the Planet’. And indeed, its soy-based burger emits 89% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and uses 96% less land and 87% less water… However, processed foods also usually contain more salt and sugar than less processed alternatives—also the case with many popular meat alternatives…

Ultimately, meat alternatives are better than industrially farmed meat. That’s for sure. But if you really want to eat the most planet-friendly diet, researchers note that less-processed plant-based protein options score far higher: beans, pulses, vegetables—even algae and insects. Sometimes, simple is best. But there is no denying that meat alternatives play a role in shifting meat-eaters’ diets away from meat. A major reduction in the levels of meat eaten around the world is a must to reach our goal of a safe climate—and meat alternatives have their part to play. So every now and again, go and enjoy your flesh-free chicken nuggets. You’re making the right choice. SOURCE…


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