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.
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?
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?