The Future of Meat is Vegan, Says Bill Gates

Beyond Meat Chicken Free Strips

Ever since retiring from Microsoft, Billionaire Bill Gates has been philanthropically involved with various humanitarian causes. Feeding the world is one of them. His heart is in the right place, although some of the directions taken are controversial.

Recently, Gates published a thoughtful multimedia essay on his website, entitled The Future of Food – How food scientists are reinventing meat – and how it can benefit everyone. The underlying thesis: world demand for meat is doubling every few decades…the earth cannot sustain this growth…we need a solution…the solution is tech to transform plant proteins into meat equivalents…the end result should be satisfactory to the most nuanced chefs.

Global Demand for Meat

Global Demand for Meat

A company highly touted in the piece is Beyond Meat, whose products are available for sale at Whole Foods Market.

Take, for example, their vegan “Grilled Chicken-Free Strips” product. The protein base is soy and peas. As you can see from the ingredients, a lot of work is required to recreate the mouth feel, texture, and taste of chicken.

Ingredients: Water, soy protein isolate*, pea protein isolate, amaranth, chicken flavor [vegan] (maltodextrin, yeast extract, natural flavoring), expeller-pressed canola oil*, soy fiber*, carrot fiber, contains 0.5% or less of: white vinegar, salt, molasses, garlic, hickory smoke powder, onion, lemon juice concentrate, black pepper, sugar, mustard powder, paprika, sodium alginate, dipotassium phosphate, titanium dioxide (color), calcium sulfate, red and green bell pepper powder, parsley, cayenne pepper.

*non-GMO identity preserved

Have you eaten these or similar products? Can you imagine yourself mostly eating this instead of real chicken?

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A few parting thoughts on the future of meat:

For entire populations that have never eaten meat, is it really that critical to create fake steaks? Why not improve the availability of the types plant based foods they are culturally eating today?

Will our grandchildren, or theirs, look back upon our generation and consider our meat eating as cruel and savage, much as we look upon cannibalism or slave ownership? Will the societal norms and ethics of the 22nd century dictate a human race that is vegan?

Get Fooducated

  • GMO FREE

    Why are you quoting Bill “GMO” Gates? He is in bed with Mon$antan.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Is there a problem with us presenting current events in the food industry on this blog?

      • http://twitter.com/beastieJC Josh curtis

        i have a problem when its propaganda, bill gates owns 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock you should not mention him no matter how much good he might be doing out in the world it doesnt make up for the bad that hes doing out there.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          Meat alternatives in the future is an interesting discussion topic.
          We are not GMO supporters either, but ignoring current events is childish and won’t lead to change.

          • http://twitter.com/beastieJC Josh curtis

            you are the one ignoring current events not taking into account where your information is coming from, a source i do not trust.

          • Catherine

            I don’t think Fooducate are doing that at all. They are merely presenting the topic up for discussion. Part of that discussion should be following (and analysing) the information sources. Regardless of Bill Gates’ alliance with the evil Monsanto and our general loathing of GMO foods, it doesn’t mean there aren’t thoughtful comments in something he writes that can then be intelligently discussed amongst mature people. People are rarely 100% evil or good after all.

  • http://twitter.com/kerricasper Kerri Casper

    My issue with the above mentioned product is that, regardless of sustainability, chicken is just chicken whereas chicken-like strips are 20+ ingredients. Never mind the amount of sodium in the above product. If the future of meat is vegan, we need to turn to natural protein sources; nuts, beans, and other legumes!

    • Patrick Hughes

      So…protein isolates of peas and beans aren’t okay with you? Most of the ingredients are legumes and vegetables. The rest are salts, spices, sugars (less than 1g per serving) and flavorings that look pretty reasonably safe given the not excessive sodium level (280mg per serving).

  • http://twitter.com/beastieJC Josh curtis
  • http://twitter.com/beastieJC Josh curtis

    that story below is about bill gates owning 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock

  • Brian Klein

    If we all must go vegan because the earth cannot support the production of meat, why would we not just eat vegetables instead of fake meat? This processing of food is what is causing us to be unhealthy in the first place. GMOs included. Mon$atan should be ashamed of what they are doing.

    And if Bill Gates actually knew what the hell he was talking about, we could actually greatly increase the amount of land used for meat production that is currently being used for nothing. See this TED talk from Allan Savory. It’s astonishing what he has been able to achieve: http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

    I don’t think it’ll help feed every person, as we are dealing with an overpopulation problem, and it won’t matter what our diet is, the earth can only support so many people. So eventually there will be a famine, and people will starve to death (on a higher order than what’s happening right now). But the way we are farming the midwest is only hastening that future. There is only so much oil to go around for us to fertilize (yes oil is used for our N-P-K fertilizer), harvest and transport food. Food production needs to happen on a local basis. Imagine a world where everyone owned a flock of chickens for eggs, and had their own garden. If that was the case, we would be producing a good part of our food without even needing anyone to produce anything. If that happens, we can inch towards a sustainable future. If it doesn’t, famine will happen. There really isn’t any other way around it.

    • http://twitter.com/beastieJC Josh curtis

      “why would we not just eat vegetables instead of fake meat?” i completely agree. whole foods is where its at. nothing will ever come close to the nutrients from whole veggies and fruits.

      • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

        That’s our approach. Unfortunately a 40 year old American ingrained with burgers and pizza from age 0 may find the change to an Indian or other vegetarian kind of food culture too harsh. Pseudo meat is presumably the solution.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Not sure that the world can go back to every family growing their own food and owning their own chickens. But it does seem like the pendulum is starting swinging back from over industrialized food production back in the right direction.

      • http://twitter.com/beastieJC Josh curtis

        if you want to live in the future you will grow your own food and supply your own meat, chicken, rabbit or other small game. i know of a lot of people that are currently doing this because they know ya better know how to do it before the time comes that you HAVE to do it. once oil is scarce the entire planet will be fighting over food not just poor countries.

        • ice123

          produce your own meat??u kidding right??Killing animals for something your body doesn’t need ,its wrong..our body doesn’t need any animal product..ZERO..u can get protein from legumes,tofu,veggies and nuts..So killing animals unnecessary is cruel and wrong and needs to stop..We are not carnivores..If you crave for meat go for the fake meat or go on a plant based diet but leave the animals alone ..

          • Brian Klein

            You are right, we are not carnivores. But we are omnivores. If you choose to be an herbivore, you can do it, but homo sapiens have been omnivores for thousands of years. It is only recently that they have tried being herbivores.

          • Mascha

            Brian that was way before the planet reached its maximum “limit of humans”, when actually humans hunted down their animals and were part of a well balanced, natural environment.

            Its time to adapt and by that it means to be herbivores considering eating habbits.

          • Brian Klein

            If we turned to vegetarianism to feed every human, without integrating animal husbandry, eventually we will destroy the fertile ground. We are currently using a model that is taking oil reserves to fertilize the land. Those oil reserves are running out. The only other way to properly fertilize the land is to use animal manure.

            That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t eat less meat. Many people should eat less meat. But we should integrate animal husbandry correctly into our farming so that we can optimize the land for growing vegetation without using oil reserves. There were nearly as many bison roaming the midwest as there are cattle in the US today. Our land can support much more than it does if we approach it correctly. (See one of my previous comments where I link to Allan Savory’s Ted talk.)

            And then there’s the issue of human population control…

          • Mascha

            I watched the TED talk it is interesting indeed. But it lacks one central point which is already a problem which we face today. Animals need food too permanently – they eat what they stand on and optimize.

            How much humans could be feed if all of the plant based agricultural areas would not be used to feed animals but to directly feed humans – matter of fact: we could sustain around 4 billion more people on this planet without any optimizations.

            Needless to say that you not only need a lot of food so that animals “produce” meet, you also ned 20000 litres of fresh water for the “production” of 1kg of beef. And were not talking about animal abuse, climate change factors and health benefits of a 100% plant based diet even.

            Its insane what we are doing and its time to step back, rethink old habits and integrate and connect to natures processes instead of trying to control it with even more hotfixes – there is enough for much more people but it requires adaption. Taking responsibility and I dont mean politics but every one of us.

          • Brian Klein

            I think the modern meat production machine is completely backwards and wrong. That needs to stop for all the reasons you state. I agree with you on that. I am suggesting that we use animal husbandry to help sustain plant production, and in that process, we don’t need to eliminate animal products. But we would need to reduce the amount of animal products we consume. And switch from grain based production to vegetable based production. So the stats you bring up about the amount of water needed to produce beef… the point would be that they would be drinking from streams, and farmers would create holding ponds instead of piping in a bunch of water. If farming is done correctly water retention on the land would be better because more nutrient dense topsoil is being created. And you would have to choose locations where that is possible. Judging by the TED talk, Savory was able to reclaim land lost to desertification. So maybe it’s possible to increase the amount of land we can use to grow vegetables and produce animal products at the same time. Look at what Joel Salatin has done with his farm. He has used technology to increase yields and quality of food, but has respected nature. Many people do not realize that farming in and of itself is unnatural to nature, and is destructive. Much of the Mid-East was arable land until we over farmed it. What we need to do is mimic nature as well as we can. Respect the natural order of things. Replenish the topsoil. That probably means that the human population should be reduced. But by taking advantage of technology and respecting nature at the same time, we can feed many more people than most think. All the while supporting a healthy environment. And we don’t need to be vegetarian to achieve that. But we do need to reduce our consumption of meat.

          • Mascha

            Brian we have, in some points, different opinions we wont solve, but this is ok as it is a good discussion. Which is by the way rare these days online.

            But we agree that the current system as a whole is perverted and wrong, for our earth, for the animals and the people consuming all of that. There are different approaches on the table to go, but it is clear that mono cultural mass systems considering animals and plants are wrong and must be changed.

            From a personal, subjective stand point I can tell you I’m vegan for almost a year and magic things happened to my health – I suffered allergies since ever and lost 90% of them. I consider everyone to at least try it for 3 months, not with animals replacement products but with fresh veggies, green smoothies and a good set of research before starting.

          • Mascha

            By the way Brian, using oil based resources are not necessary for efficiently growing plants, there are far better and sustainable methods, e.g. Sepp Holzers permaculture or generally permaculture. But thats another bad habbit…

      • Brian Klein

        Right… Take New York City for example. It would never happen there. But people in suburbs could realistically start producing much of their own food. If it turned into a crisis, everyone would have to figure something out, and getting a piece of arable land would become a priority for a lot of people. They could then take charge of their food production. I could see America moving back to an agrarian community, like it used to be. We’re a long ways off from that though. People aren’t often motivated until it’s staring them in the face.

  • indyb

    I read that they are starting to clone meat.

  • Lynn

    Soy products won’t work for the millions of women who have estrogen-type breast cancer. Soy acts as an estrogen twin in the body, and women with this type of breast cancer are told to avoid soy and some other grains.

    • mountainmusic

      all Soy is GMO

      • eburgchica

        no it is not. MOst is, but not all

        • karenstockton

          I don’t know where you’re coming from in saying “most is”, but most all the soy I see in the stores says non-GMO and/or organic (which always includes being non-GMO). The real problem is that 80% of our crops are being fed to animals brought into the world by Artificial Insemination and killed for their flesh, leading to enormous environmental, spiritual, and health degradation–most of the corn and soy crops are going to these animals, which is the biggest contributor of monocropping, deforestation, water use, climate change and desertification.

          And why are pesticides, herbicides and GMO foods being used in the first place? As a “solution” to create more food on smaller plots of land, because there’s not enough land and resources to feed all the animals being brought into the world by AI–the demand for flesh is too great as it is.

          The energy pyramid shows how primary consumers (Vegans) eat 16 times less plants than meat-eaters (meat-eaters being ones who are filtering the electron-rich, living food of plants through many animals who have eaten other animals who have all eaten many crops, which is like taking your water and filtering it through a sewer) and use 20 times less land than meat-eaters.

    • Peggy

      What other grains Lynn? I was told to avoid soy but don’t remember anything about other grains.

      • Lynn

        Flax — my med oncologist said the jury was out, but to avoid until further info became available.

    • karenstockton

      This is silly. Soy increases phytoestrogen levels, not estrogen. Phytoestrogen does not have the same effect as estrogen. In fact, phytoestrogen stops estrogen mediated pathways and consumption of soy shows slight protective benefit of risk reduction of breast cancer, but there are no studies soy consumption to increased risk of breast cancer. Do a google search.

  • SuzanneJ

    I hate to admit it, but I got a little excited to see that the “chicken” was gluten-free, since I would like something that both my vegetarian husband and my gut could handle. However, I’m of the opinion that all this processing could be at the root of why so many of us have wheat, soy or corn intolerances. I hope there will be more research on the effects of GMOs and processing on the body, rather than on doctoring food and waiting to see what happens.

    I think it’s good for Americans to discuss how much meat is really necessary or sensible to eat. Many voices are needed, and the discussion should not be guided solely by Gates and Monsanto.

    • Brian Klein

      I think it’s more important for Americans to have a discussion about how the meat is raised rather than how much we eat. The how is causing much more harm right now. The how much will work itself out with the price and availability.

      • SuzanneJ

        It’s true. There is a lot that should be changed about that, since the way it is raised now is so harmful to the environment and our health. I also think many people have also developed the idea in their head that eating hearty portions of meat 2-3 times a day is something we’ve always done (as homo sapiens or as Americans), but that’s a more recent phenomenon. I see people who think they’re superheroes for avoiding meat on Fridays during Lent. We need to make people aware of filling, tasty meatless recipes that are available to them, and hopefully reduce the anxiety some people have about starving without meat.

  • mike

    Get ya tillers out. You reek what you sow.

  • James Cooper

    How did the commenters manage to include Monsanto in this? I don’t see anything in the article to indicate their involvement.

    • Sandra

      Any product that contains soy or canola automatically links back to Monsanto because they own 95% of the worlds soy and canola seeds. In order to grow it, farmers are forced to buy from Monsanto. And once they buy from Monsanto they are locked into a contract to buy only Monsanto fertilizer and pesticides.

  • Carol H.

    For those who don’t need the mouthfeel/texture of meat, there are many good vegan products out there. This one has good nutrition and taste without controversial ingredients (although the addition of some beans would have been nice to bump up the protein a little)… tried it at Expo West: http://asherahsgourmet.com/index-1.html#products

  • HereHere

    Maybe Gates is a shareholder activist, and that is why he has so many shares. I agree, from everything I have read, humans need to consume much less meat simply because there isn’t enough water to produce enough for everyone, with developing countries increasing demand for meat. On the subject of soy, I have seen recent research showing it prevents breast cancer and also prevents the recurrence of breast cancer. I avoid GMO by buying organic soy sauce, organic tofu, organic soy milk. I love the chocolate soy milk, but of course, sugar is known to be cancer-promoting, as are fats. Green leafy veggies and white mushrooms fight cancer cells, and the latter can even shrink tumors.

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  • Wouter De Heij

    The most advances meatreplacers is http://www.eetbeeter.nl. Examples of this soja-water based meat replacer can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/vleeschsmakers?ref=hl

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Htes-A-Nilley/100000962621374 Htes A Nilley

    Though he supports Monsanto SCUM, POWER TO ZEE WORDDSSSS to though future. xD Vegetarian now (as Vegan is a little hard to do in America with hardly having much money or a automobile for that matter) for almost 3 months with land-animals no more for about 4 months now. :D

  • Celeste

    My take on this is he wants everyone vegan so that they’re eating more genetically modified soy and corn. He’s not as well intended as some may think just do a little researching on why he wants vaccinations for third world countries.

  • Aram

    Matrix

  • Kirk97

    Living food living body.. It’s really that simple!!