Two cents: The argument for mock meats
There is a new frontier in the startup world: the race to make the most authentic-tasting meat-free meat. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods leading the charge, developing meat alternatives to serve a meat-hungry world. Their efforts have gotten some interesting press lately. Let’s set the scene as to why:
The rate at which the world consumes meat is increasing exponentially, and it will soon be impossible to produce enough meat to serve the demand. In an effort to keep up with an increasingly meat-hungry world, we’ve seen the rise of factory farming, industrial intervention and steroid-fed animals. These methods of meat production do not produce the most nutritionally sound food, and that’s even before we even talk about the ethics of eating our furry friends. Global meat consumption simply cannot continue to operate this way. Increasingly people are realizing the ethical, health and environmental benefits of sourcing foods from plants rather than animals.
Food is not only nourishment – it is about the experience and taste. There is a loud minority of folks (like us!) who enjoy the taste of vegan foods, but how do you promote meat-free food to the average omnivore, who is accustomed to eating juicy burger meat at their 4th of July BBQ? Enter Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Although they are making plant-based products, their target market is the meat-eating population. If successful, they will capture a market that may never have considered a plant-based diet before.
On the surface we support these initiatives if it means that more people are eating healthy, vegetable sourced food. The only worry is the “frankenfood” aspect. Will tinkering with these enzymes and molecules negatively our bodies long-term? Given that the ingredients used are extracted from vegetables, we think not, but the truth is that we have no idea. The same argument can be made about newer elective surgical procedures like laser eye surgery (LASIK). The first LASIK procedures were performed in the early 1990s, which means the oldest LASIK patients are just now becoming geratric. We have no data on how these people will fare at 80 or 90 years old. However, people take the risk and get LASIK anyway, in the hopes that it will improve their quality of life. Arguably the same could be said for these meat-free meats.
What do you think?