The vegetable-based meat market is coming soon. It is now in the early stages of adoption, led by Impossible Foods and Memphis Meats with their artificial meat products that look, feel, and taste like real meat. However, behind all the success of this bold idea, there are still some unanswered questions.
However, as these “meat” processing methods are safe and eco-friendly, there should be minimal to no complaints. Some manufacturers adopted an open door or glass window policy about their practices, helping ensure consumers of their plant-based food manufacturing methods.
Los Angeles-based company Beyond Meats sells their new plant-based burger at $12 a pound. In contrast, conventional ground beef costs $3.50 a pound, and high end grass-fed organic ground beef sells at $10 a pound. Beyond Meat sells its burgers at specialty stores including Safeway. In the years to come, the price will decrease and become more affordable.
Many of the questions regarding plant-based meat are about economics. When there are fewer cows on the range, there is also less demand for corn and soya for livestock feeds. This may throw the economics of farmers out of alignment. Farmers as a group of workers and small businessmen are a shrinking population; at the same time, their median age is also growing older. During the last 30 years, the average age of U.S. farmers was around 50 years old – today the average age is 58.
Additionally, farmers’ children often do not want to work the farm. Conversely, many farmers do not want their children to become farmers. The hard life of farming and growing livestock is a disincentive. Although they should be rejoicing at the changes brought about by technology, the reality is that plant-based foods will affect farming.
Lab-Meat Glass Window Policy
Plant-based foods can benefit not just the consumers but also ecology. Lab-manufactured meat skips the part where cows, pigs, and poultry eat plants to produce protein. Plant-based meat production creates a streamlined process which produces protein faster, and with less plant material used. The whole process is artificial, as well as the finished product; however, experts believe that the majority of consumers would not care where the meat came from in the future. What’s important is that these are safe to consume, there are no side-effects, they are affordable, and they provide the same experience as eating real meat.
For environmentalists, artificial meats mean there is no need to expand on the grasslands, and there are little to no more fights over land rights. Activists against genetically modified organism (GMOs) will not be very happy about this development, and they are expected to rally against the manufacture of artificial meat. Creating meat artificially sounds less palatable than herding animals to the slaughterhouse.
However, as these “meat” processing methods are safe and eco-friendly, there should be few to no complaints. Some manufacturers adopted an open door or glass window policy about their practices, helping ensure consumers of their plant-based food manufacturing methods.
Lab-manufactured meat is a hard concept to swallow. This is especially true for those who have experienced killing an animal before cooking it. For example, ancient civilizations used to thank the animal for dying so the individual can eat. In hunter-gatherer cultures, animals are only killed for food, making sure the tribe only catches or kills what they need.
The success of plant-based meat is a feat for humankind and will leave a bold impact for generations to come. However, getting people to accept that meat comes from factories and not from grazing land or farms will be a hard sell.