Plant based food technology has become a real thing now. Animal activists have for decades railed against the meat industry for its poor treatment of animals on factory farms. Environmentalists have also attacked intensive livestock farming because it contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. They also claim it degrades soil, water, and air. Health advocates too have piled on with warnings about the ill effects of the over-consumption of meat.
Yet, despite all the protest campaigns, all the alarming scientific reports, and all the great editorials, no one really cares about it. Global meat consumption is expected to increase by 73 per cent by 2050. But any effort to curtail the negative consequences of meat production seems hopeless.
Maybe…. Maybe not?
It appears someone has been listening to all the evidences that have accumulated against meat production. He has not only seen the threats it represents, but also the opportunity. That someone is billionaire Bill Gates. And he is just one of the capitalist entrepreneur who is behind an industry that might help save billions of animals from suffering and slaughter.
Referred to them as eco-food innovators, the companies are using plant-based ingredients to mimic the texture and the taste of animal based food. For example, one start-up has created a product called “Beyond Eggs”. This performs the same function as eggs in baking, but without compromising the taste or quality of baked goods. What is more, the company says the product will be about 19 per cent cheaper than real eggs. It claims it is healthier and has a longer shelf-life than eggs. In a taste test, no one could tell the difference between a muffin made with real eggs and one made with it.
What are other values in plant based food technology?
A reduction in the need for mass-produced eggs would decrease the need for millions of hens raised in cruel battery cages, that is one of the worst examples of factory farm cruelty.
Other new firms are focusing on meat replacements and have also attracted venture capital funding. One firm, “Beyond Meat company”, is already selling faux chicken that has fooled food writers in blind taste tests.
But plant-based food are in a race with another technology aiming to replace at least some livestock production. Known as in-vitro meat, the process involves growing meat from animal cells.
Not all these investments in alternatives to meat production is being driven by altruism. Or a soft spot for mother hens and doe-eyed calves, but there is an understanding that factory farming is unsustainable. So, the plant based food technology is a real thing and is attracting funding. This with other developments is also a symbol of coming of new agriculture age.