Ranchers may be getting worried. The Cattlemen’s Association has asked the government to “’define ‘meat’ as a product ‘derived from animals.’” (“Faux Sure!” by Clive Thompson, Wired, Jan. 2019, pg. 26.) Apparently, they feel threatened by growth in the “fake” meat industry.
Not long ago, I reported that technology and chemistry have taken plant-based diets in a new direction. Today, grains and legumes are close to replicating the taste and texture of meat. As a result, new companies, like Impossible Foods, are springing up in the United States. If these new enterprises can keep their prices below meat products, the cattle industry is right to worry.
The benefits of faux meat are many. Most people are aware that raising cattle is harmful to the environment. An Oxford University study found that “to keep global warming below 2 degrees this century, we need to eat 75 percent less beef and 90 percent less pork globally.” (Ibid pg. 26.)
Reducing meat consumption also reduces energy consumption because the need for refrigeration decreases. (Ibid pg. 22.) Another energy boon for the planet.
Believe it or not, faux meat allows for greater variety than its real counterpart. According to writer Clive Thompson, producers can customize their products to be softer or chewier, to satisfy individual tastes. Seafood isn’t exempt, either. A company called Hugger Foods has engineered a tomato that replicates tuna.
Imagine it. “Meat” that tastes good, is good for the planet, cheaper and good for you. Before long, ranchers maybe looking at a stampede away from beef.