by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Meat substitutes

Dec 6 2019

Weekend reading: the latest on plant-based meat and dairy alternatives

I don’t know about you but I am having a hard time keeping up with what’s happening in the market for plant-based meat and dairy substitutes.

For one thing, they are under attack from meat producers.  Here’s the latest on the politics.

Why the attack.  Just take a look at what I’ve collected on this topic in the past couple of weeks.  You can see at a glance why this trend is taking off.  Everyone wants to get into this act in every way they can.

Nov 15 2019

Weekend reading: Meat, Cultured and Not

I’ve been seeing lots of books about meat lately.  Here are two recent ones.

Josh Berson.  The Meat Question: Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food.  MIT Press, 2019.

The author is an Australian social scientist, a vegan, who has produced a deep dive into the history of the use of meat as food and as cultural symbol.  As he puts it,

The aim of this book is to unpack what I’ve come to call the Meat Question–Should humans be eating meat, and if so who, and what kinds, and how much?–in the most comprehensive way possible.  The perspective…is deep deep in that it encompasses the history of human meat eating and human relationships with other gregarious vertebrates over a span of more than 2 million years.  (p. 2)

This [book’s] perspective is centered on my conviction that the economic violence of meat has less to do with who can and cannot afford it than with how meat serves to prop up a system of asymmetric benefits from all forms of human activity, not just that related to food.  Growing demand for meat is not simply an outcome of growing affluence.  It is a symptom of the inequality and oppression that have accompanied that affluence. (p. 294)

Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft.  Meat Planet: Artificial Flesh and the Future of Food.  University of California Press, 2019.

This book examines the brand-new industry creating lab-based meat.  These products are not yet on the market but are of such enormous public and economic interest that they are well worth book-length treatment.

This book tells the story of what I found, and what I did not find, in the course of my time in the small, strange world of cultured meat, during what seemed to be the early years of an emerging technology.  I expected to spend time in laboratories…This did happen in some measure, but for the most part I found myself with very little laboratory science to observe and a great many public conversations about cultured meat to participate in and sort through.  (p. 15)

But cultured meat, too, raises moral questions.  Not questions about our moral regard for harvested cells, but questions about the implications cultured meat may hold for our moral regard for animals….It is relatively easy to see how cultured meat would or would not suit different philosophical arguments for animal protection….But assuming that cultured meat leads to abolition of animal agriculture, it will change our sense of what these creatures, these nonhuman animals, are doing in the world. (p. 133)

Both of these books deal with the moral, philosophical, cultural, historical, and socioeconomic implications of meat-eating, although from quite different perspectives.

Nov 14 2019

Lab-based meat and dairy: recent trends

No lab-based meat or dairy product is yet on the market, but lots of people are working on such things.  Here are some recent examples, starting with my favorite.

Oct 30 2019

The Zombie Center for Consumer Freedom is back. Its target? Plant-based meat.

Just in time for Halloween, the zombie is back.

I can hardly believe that the deeply discredited Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF)is on the attack again with another one of its snarky full-page ads in the New York Times (Monday, October 28).

The Center is infamous for secrecy about who pays for such things.

In this case, it’s easy to guess that the meat industry must behind it.  The most likely candidate is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) on the basis of its already aggressive campaign against plant-based meat alternatives (see below).

If beef producers are hiring the Center for Consumer Freedom, you know that their industry is in real trouble.

If they are employing the CCF, they deserve to be in trouble.

NCBA Lobbying

CleanFoodFacts.com:  Does it exist?  I can’t find it online.

FoodNavigator-USA has a report of the press release for this, and the Center’s vague discussion of where the funding comes from.

Oct 17 2019

Plant-based meat and dairy: recent innovations

I’ve been collecting items related to plant-based meat and dairy foods from the various newsletters I read.  I am having a hard time keeping up.  This is a super-hot topic with investors pouring money into these products.

Things are moving so quickly that Food Dive has established a plant-protein tracker to help readers keep up.

Even a quick scan of just the titles of these articles will make clear just how hot this area is.

Let’s start with the in-fighting.

Here’s what he’s talking about.  I’ll bet they don’t agree.

As for what the meat industry thinks of all this…

And the New York Times’ take on Big Meat’s getting in on this action.

Sep 24 2019

New report predicts collapse of dairy and cattle industries by 2030

A group called RethinkX has produced an attention-getting report: “Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030.”

Its press release argues that new lab-based technology will thoroughly disrupt dairy and cattle farming.

By 2030, the dairy and cattle industries will have collapsed as animal-derived foods are replaced by modern equivalents that are higher quality and cost less than half as much to produce. The rest of the livestock industry will suffer a similar fate.

Furthermore, the new products will be “ever cheaper and superior – more nutritious, healthier, better tasting, more convenient, and more varied.”

The press release says that via a process of “death by a thousand cuts,”

different parts of the cow (meat, milk, collagen, and leather) and the markets they serve will be disrupted separately and concurrently by different technologies and business-model innovations that overlap, reinforce, and accelerate one another…The key to understanding the disruption of the cow is that PF [precision fermentation] only needs to disrupt 3.3% of the milk bottle – the key functional proteins – to bring about the collapse of the entire cow milk industry.

The report predicts that by 2030:

  • The number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen by 50%.
  • Production volumes of the U.S. beef and dairy industries and their suppliers will be cut by more than half.
  • The market for ground beef by volume will have shrunk by 70%, the steak market by 30% and the dairy market by almost 90%.
  • The U.S. dairy and cattle industries will have collapsed, leaving only local specialty farms in operation.
  • The volume of crops needed to feed cattle inthe U.S. will fall by 50%…causing cattle feed production revenues, at current prices, to fall by more than 50%.
  • Half of the 1.2 million jobs in U.S. beef and dairy production (including supply chain), along with their associated industries, will be lost

Really?  Is the technology that good, approved, and acceptable?

It’s hard to take this seriously at this point, but the trends are worth watching.

I’m wondering what the cattle and dairy trade groups and lobbyists have to say about all this.

 

Jun 21 2019

Weekend reading: plant-based and cell-cultured meat alternatives

I can hardly keep up with what’s happening with plant-based and cultured-meat products.  Here’s my latest collection from various newsletters and other sources.  Take a look at the ones that interest you.  This is a quick way to get a broad picture of where this industry is headed and how these products are viewed.

Bottom line: meat alternatives are big business.

Apr 10 2019

Burger King to serve Impossible Burger?

I thought this was an April Fool joke, but apparently it’s for real.  According to The Guardian (and many other sources), Burger King will be serving this plant-based meat alternative.

Much has been said in favor of and opposed to the Impossible Burger.

I give Tamar Haspel credit for the most cogent comment: