The campaign to promote veganism by exposing the destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

Plant-based proteins are too expensive, here’s how to level the playing field with meat

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The state of alternative proteins today is comparable to that of renewable energy. Renewable energy was once generally more expensive than fossil fuels. To make alternative proteins less expensive, that sector needs the same type of government action.

NIGEL PURVIS: Animal agriculture’s impacts on food security and the environment are expected to grow in the coming decades… Despite animal agriculture’s sizable effect on food security and climate change, a dearth of reasonable alternatives to animal protein has led to an uncomfortable silence from policymakers. Animals cannot be optimized for food production to the extent necessary to resolve the efficiency crisis at play, and the concept of reducing animal product consumption has been met with fierce resistance from producers and consumers alike for decades. However, with recent progress in food technology, a promising solution has emerged…

Alternative proteins are foods that create the experience of eating animal products without the inefficiencies and other harms involved in cycling crops through animals. Popular examples on store shelves include high-fidelity plant-based options from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Other alternative proteins still in development include cultivated meat—made with real animal cells grown in bioreactors—and precision fermentation-derived animal proteins for use as additives and ingredients. These products provide consumers with the culinary and cultural experience they desire without the environmental and food security costs of animal agriculture, allowing for extensive food system reform without the need for significant behavioral shifts by consumers.

But though the world is innovating rapidly on electricity and transportation, food production’s inefficiencies and external costs have been largely ignored. The analogy with renewable energy is apt: Mainstream goals for renewable energy and electrification of transport are to reduce environmental impacts, not to try to convince the world to consume less energy and drive less. Governments should think about alternative proteins the same way. Instead of trying to convince consumers to eat less meat, alternative proteins can mitigate the harms of animal protein production with a product that tastes the same or better and costs the same or less…

Alternative proteins have three key advantages over traditional animal protein sources. First, these products are far more resource-efficient than animal foods. Today’s plant-based alternatives to beef use up to 99 percent less land per unit than their conventional counterparts, and an assessment of cultivated beef commissioned by the Good Food Institute found that it could require 93 percent fewer input calories and 95 percent less land than conventional beef…

Second, the supply chains for alternative proteins are simpler and less vulnerable to disruption than those of animal products. Alternative proteins concentrate production entirely in local factories with no need for feed mills, hatcheries, industrial barns for raising animals, fleets of tractor-trailers to haul livestock for slaughter, slaughterhouses, or post-slaughter processing…

Third and finally, alternative proteins produce a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of traditional animal protein, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change at the same time as they help the food system weather them…

But while a systemwide transition to alternative proteins would benefit people and the planet, it is not inevitable. Moreover, it will not proceed rapidly enough on its own to counteract the dangers of a changing climate and growing demand for protein. Right now, the primary obstacles to wider uptake of alternative proteins are that they cost too much and don’t taste as good as conventional meat… What’s needed is concerted government action to accelerate the innovations needed to reduce costs and improve how these proteins taste.

In this respect, too, the state of alternative proteins today is comparable to that of renewable energy. Renewable energy was once generally more expensive than fossil fuels. Now in many, maybe even most, parts of the world, wind and solar are actually cheaper than new fossil fuel power plants. That same rapid innovation is transforming the transport sector, with electric vehicles moving into the mainstream.

While the private sector deserves the bulk of the credit for innovation in these sectors, government policies—such as public research and development and tax credits—have been important factors, too. To make alternative proteins less expensive, that sector needs the same type of government action. Crucially, creating new financial incentives for alternative proteins would merely level the playing field with livestock production, which receives considerable subsidies in many countries. New policies encouraging innovation would expand consumer choice and speed consumer acceptance…

With demand for meat set to rise inexorably for decades, these external costs will only increase. The growth of renewable energy and the emerging success of electric vehicles have shown that the global economy can transition in ways that spur economic growth, create new jobs, and add choices for consumers. SOURCE…

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