The meaty side of climate change

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BY SHEFALI SHARMA

Last year, three of the world’s largest meat companies — JBS, Cargill and Tyson Foods — emitted more greenhouse gases than France and nearly as much as some big oil companies. And yet, while energy giants like Exxon and Shell have drawn fire for their role in fueling climate change, the corporate meat and dairy industries have largely avoided scrutiny. If we are to avert environmental disaster, this double standard must change.

To bring attention to this issue, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, GRAIN and Germany’s Heinrich Boell Foundation recently teamed up to study the “supersized climate footprint” of the global livestock trade. What we found was shocking. In 2016, the world’s 20 largest meat and dairy companies emitted more greenhouse gases than Germany. If these companies were a country, they would be the world’s seventh-largest emitter.

Obviously, mitigating climate change will require tackling emissions from the meat and dairy industries. The question is how.

Around the world, meat and dairy companies have become politically powerful entities. The recent corruption-related arrests of two JBS executives, the brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, pulled back the curtain on corruption in the industry. JBS is the largest meat processor in the world, earning nearly $20 billion more in 2016 than its closest rival, Tyson Foods. But JBS achieved its position with assistance from the Brazilian Development Bank and apparently, by bribing more than 1,800 politicians. It is no wonder, then, that greenhouse gas emissions are low on the company’s list of priorities. In 2016, JBS, Tyson and Cargill emitted 484 million tons of climate changing gases, 46 million tons more than BP, the British energy giant.

Meat and dairy industry insiders push hard for pro-production policies, often at the expense of environmental and public health. From seeking to block reductions in nitrous oxide and methane emissions, to circumventing obligations to reduce air, water and soil pollution, they have managed to increase profits while dumping pollution costs on the public.

One consequence, among many, is that livestock production now accounts for nearly 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is a bigger share than the world’s entire transportation sector. Moreover, much of the growth in meat and dairy production in the coming decades is expected to come from the industrial model. If this growth conforms to the pace projected by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, our ability to keep temperatures from rising to apocalyptic levels will be severely undermined.

At the November United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, several U.N. agencies were directed, for the first time ever, to cooperate on issues related to agriculture, including livestock management. This move is welcome for many reasons, but especially because it will begin to expose the conflicts of interest that are endemic in the global agribusiness trade.

To skirt climate responsibility, the meat and dairy industries have long argued that expanding production is necessary for food security. Corporate firms, they insist, can produce meat or milk more efficiently than a pastoralist in the Horn of Africa or a small-scale producer in India.

Unfortunately, current climate policies do not refute this narrative, and some even encourage increased production and intensification. Rather than setting targets for the reduction of total industry-related emissions, many current policies create incentives for firms to squeeze more milk from each dairy cow and bring beef cattle to slaughter faster. This necessitates equating animals to machinery that can be tweaked to produce more with less through technological fixes and ignoring all of this model other negative effects.

California’s experience is instructive. Pursuing one of the world’s first efforts to regulate agricultural methane, the state government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions in cattle processing. But California is currently addressing the issue by financing programs that support mega-dairies rather than small, sustainable operators. Such “solutions” have only worsened the industry’s already-poor record on worker and animal welfare, and exacerbated adverse environmental and health-related effects.

Solutions do exist. For starters, governments could redirect public money from factory farming and large-scale agribusiness to smaller, ecologically focused family farms. Governments could also use procurement policies to help build markets for local products and encourage cleaner, more vibrant farm economies.

Many cities around the world are already basing their energy choices on a desire to tackle climate change. Similar criteria could shape municipalities’ food policies, too. For example, higher investment in farm-to-hospital and farm-to-school programs would ensure healthier diets for residents, strengthen local economies, and reduce the climate impact of the meat and dairy industries.

Dairy and meat giants have operated with climate impunity for far too long. If we are to halt global temperature spikes and avert an ecological crisis, consumers and governments must do more to create, support and strengthen environmentally conscious producers. That would be good for our health — and for the health of our planet.

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America’s Biggest Beef Eaters Responsible for Large Chunk of Climate Emissions

20 percent of Americans account for nearly half of all U.S. food-related emissions, and their diets are heavy on meat, a new study shows.

A new study matched what people reported eating with the carbon footprint of those foods and then ranked them. Beef was a big part of the difference. Credit: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

A new study matched what people reported eating with the carbon footprint of those foods and then ranked their diets. The top 20 percent were responsible for eight times more emissions than the lowest 20 percent, and beef was a big part of the difference. Credit: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The biggest eaters of burgers, steaks and ribs contribute the largest hunk of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to a new study that examined individual eating habits across the country.

New research from the University of Michigan and Tulane University finds that 20 percent of American eaters accounted for nearly half of total diet-related emissions, and that their diets were heavy on beef.

If those people consumed fewer calories and shifted to a more moderate diet with less beef, that could achieve almost 10 percent of the emissions reductions needed for the U.S. to meet its targets under the Paris climate agreement, the researchers found.

The study, published Tuesday in Environmental Research Letters, adds to a growing pile of evidence linking beef with high greenhouse gas emissions, but it is the first to look at what people ate—or recalled eating—rather than at data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which measures how commodities flow through the economy.

“USDA tracks how much of a commodity is imported and exported, what gets used for non-food purposes, and applies food waste losses to those numbers. What comes out of that is divided by the population,” said Martin Heller, the study’s lead author. “What we looked at is what an individual said they ate on a particular day.”

With the “recall survey” approach, Heller and his co-authors were able to examine what and how certain portions of the population ate, providing data they believe could be more useful in developing diet-related recommendations that might drive consumers toward more sustainable food choices.

The study comes as more countries are recommending lowering beef consumption for environmental reasons, and as some contemplate taxes on beef, in part to help reach their emissions targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Comparing Diets, Low-Impact to Beefy

To develop their estimates, Heller and his team built a database that looked at the environmental impacts of producing 300 commonly eaten foods. They then linked the database to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative survey that includes self-reported dietary data for more than 16,000 Americans.

The researchers were able to rank those diets by their greenhouse gas emissions. They found that the top 20 percent, with the highest carbon footprint, was responsible for eight times more emissions than the lowest 20 percent, and that beef consumption accounted for 72 percent of the difference.

Meat production overall—largely from beef, but also including pork and chicken—accounted for 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the highest-impact group, but only 27 percent in the lowest-impact group. And while the highest-impact group consumed an average of nearly 3,000 calories a day and the lowest just above 1,300, when the researchers adjusted the findings based on caloric intake, the highest-impact group still represented five times more emissions.

The researchers did not look specifically at how the beef was produced, which can influence its carbon footprint. “That information is not available on the dietary side,” Heller said. “People aren’t saying where their beef is coming from or how it was raised. It was just beef.”

Where Do Those Emissions Come From?

Agriculture accounts for about 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the USDA and Environmental Protection Agency. Globally, food production is responsible for 30 percent of total emissions.

Of the 14.5 percent of global emissions from the livestock industry, more than two-thirds come from beef, largely from fertilizer used to grow grain and from cattle belching.

The study notes research that says dietary choices will become critical to meeting emissions targets under the Paris climate agreement as global demand for food rises with a growing population.

BEEF EATERS CONTRIBUTE ALMOST HALF OF THE U.S.’S DIET-RELATED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Nearly half of the United States’ diet-related greenhouse gas emissions result from only 20 percent of Americans’ dietary choices, a new study finds.

The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, finds that Americans with the highest levels of beef consumption account for 72 percent of the increase in diet-related emissions between the highest- and lowest-impact groups in the study, which produces about eight times the amount of emissions compared to the lowest-impact group. The study’s researchers attribute this to the fact that animal-based foods, particularly cow-based, contribute significantly higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions per pound than plant-based foods.

“Reducing the impact of our diets could achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emission in the United States,” said lead author Martin Heller, a researcher at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, in a press release. “It’s climate action that is accessible to everyone, because we all decide on a daily basis what we eat.”

This study is one of the few to break down the environmental impacts of individual self-selected diets, as opposed to other studies that evaluate environmental effects of diets at the aggregate level. “Such work is essential for estimating a distribution of impacts, which, in turn, is key to recommending policies for driving consumer demand towards lower environmental impacts,” the study states.

Grass-fed beef is bad for the planet and causes climate change

Cows grazing

Still a problematic part of the menu

FLPA/John Eveson/REX/Shutterstock

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2149220-grass-fed-beef-is-bad-for-the-planet-and-causes-climate-change/

Prince Charles is wrong to support grass-fed beef. The idea that beef from cows raised on bucolic pastures is good for the environment, and that we can therefore eat as much meat as we want, doesn’t add up. New calculations suggest cattle pastures contribute to climate change.

“Sadly, though it would be nice if the pro-grazers were right, they aren’t,” says lead author Tara Garnett of the University of Oxford’s Food Climate Research Network. “The truth is, we cannot eat as much meat as we like and save the planet.”

Many meat eaters have long felt guilty that the beef steaks they love are bringing environmental disaster.

A key problem is that microorganisms in the guts of cattle emit millions of tonnes of methane every year. A typical cow releases 100 kilograms of methane a year and the world has about a billion of them. Since methane is a greenhouse gas, this exacerbates global warming.

Meanwhile, feeding the beasts destroys forests by taking land for pasture or to grow feed – and this deforestation also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

But a counter-view has gained currency. First popularised by Zimbabwean ecologist and livestock farmer Allan Savory, and supported by organic farmers like Prince Charles, it argues that grazing cattle on pastures is actually good for the climate.

The idea is that plants on pastures capture carbon from the air, especially when fertilised by manure. Pastures should also reduce our need for food crops grown on land that releases carbon when ploughed.

Doing the sums

Confused by conflicting claims, Garnett and her colleagues calculated the flow of greenhouse gases into and out of pastures. She found that “in some circumstances, you can get carbon capture, but not always and the effect is small. You cannot extrapolate from a nicely run Dorset farm to a global food strategy.”

At best, carbon capture only offsets 20 to 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from grazing, mostly the methane from cattle. “And the carbon capture stops after a few decades,” says Garnett, when the carbon-enriched soils reach equilibrium with the air. “Meanwhile, the cattle continue to belch methane.”

Her findings are published in a report, Grazed and Confused?

The analysis is more comprehensive than past studies, says Tim Benton at the University of Leeds, UK. “It asks, if we are to eat meat, is there a better way to grow it? The answer is: not really.”

Less meat

Supporters of cattle grazing aren’t giving up just yet, though. Some say cattle have simply replaced wild ruminants, which also release methane. But Garnett points out that many cattle, especially in the tropics, graze on former forest land. In places such as the Brazilian Amazon, clearing trees for cattle causes massive greenhouse gas emissions.

At low densities of around one animal per hectare, carbon capture in soils could still exceed methane emissions, says Richard Young of the Sustainable Food Trust in Bristol, UK, which supports cattle grazing. However, he concedes that this isn’t true at higher densities.

Garnett’s conclusion is supported by a study published on 29 September, which found that methane emissions from cattle are 11 per cent larger than older methods would suggest, and thus a bigger contributor to global warming (Carbon Balance and Management, doi.org/cdpz).

“We need to reduce emissions from livestock,” says Benton. “That needs to come from dietary change.”

Lab-grown Meat and Veganism Movements Surge in Response to Climate Change

https://edgylabs.com/lab-grown-meat-global-warming-and-veganism

Would you be willing to give up ice-cream and hamburgers if it saved the environment? Good news: lab-grown meat is set to hit shop floors this year, so you don’t have to. 

A 2017 study showed that if all Americans substituted beans for beef, the USA would come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse gas goals originally set by the Obama administration in 2009.

Perhaps spurred on by shocking polemical documentaries like Cowspiracy and the UN’s reportthat showed that processed meat is as carcinogenic as cigarettes, veganism is on the rise. Lately, veganism has risen from its grassroots origins and become a widespread form of eco-activism.

Believe it or not, the meat and dairy industries are starting to listen and lab-grown meat is set to become a reality.

The Dark Truth Behind the Veganism fad

Is veganism just another bandwagon? Or, do these almond-milking vegaholics know what they’re talking about?

“What’s so wrong with eating meat?”, you may ask.

As all of the current U.S. generations currently alive have enjoyed, we no longer have to go out and hunt for animals when we want to eat meat. In fact, we don’t even have to go to the grocery store. We can order 24 chicken nuggets from the driver seat or have groceries delivered by an Amazon contractor.

Our lifestyles have changed drastically, but we still claim that we need to eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The sheer numbers involved with keeping everyone fed on steak and cheese are causing a lot of problems behind the scenes.

The brutality of the meat and dairy industries have been exposed in documentaries you may have come across on Netflix. Vegecated, Forks Over Knives and Earthlings are cited as contributing factors by many vegan converts.

However, critics question the validity of the facts provided in these “life-changing” documentaries.

Perhaps it was because the revelations of what has become normal were so shocking or maybe because people aren’t ready to face the consequences of their lifestyles. But, Cowspiracy, in particular, got a bad rap for using questionable statistics in the original version.

Although such advocacy documentaries still have their value and are worth watching if you want to get informed, they should be taken with a pinch of salt.

A more reliable source of facts about veganism and the environment are reviewed research papers and official reports. Although these reports may not have the same drama, the facts are clear-cut. The environmental impact of animal agriculture and it’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water waste is extreme.

Here’s the impact that meat and dairy have on the environment explained in facts and figures:

  • Animal agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption.
  • In 2016 the UN reported that the livestock sector is one of the most significant contributors to environmental degradation, both locally and globally.
  • A UN report that followed this in 2010 warned that rising meat and dairy consumption combined with a population set to be 9.1 billion by 2050, meant a shift towards veganism was vital. It stated that only a major change in the human diet could save the world from climate catastrophe and major food shortages.
  • Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane gas a day. What most don’t realize is that this greenhouse gas’s alleged effect on climate change is much greater than C02 which usually steals the spotlight.
  • Numerous reports have claimed that methane is up to 100 times more harmful than C02.
  • 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions are generated by raising livestock for meat, eggs, and milk. That’s more than all transportation, including planes combined.
  • Raising livestock also uses 70% of all agricultural land, making it the leading cause of deforestation, water pollution and loss of biodiversity.
  • It’s estimated that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.
  • One-third of the world’s grain is now fed to animals.
  • Antibiotic use in animals is a major contributor to rising levels of antibiotic resistance in the human population
  • A 2017 study showed that meat manufacturers JBS, Cargill, and Tyson (All giants in the meat industry) emitted more greenhouse gases in 2016 than all of France.

What would Happen if we all Went Vegan?

study carried out by Dr. Marco Sprinmann at the University of Oxford attempted to estimate what the world would be like if we all went vegan in 2050.

The results are astonishing and show that in one single year greenhouse emissions would be cut by two thirds. $1.5 trillion would be saved in climate damages and healthcare expenditure. He also estimated that global mortality would be reduced by 10%, with 8 million fewer deaths caused by chronic disease.

Springmann also emphasized that these figures are probably an underestimation.

Could Lab Grown Meat Save the World?

Veganism doesn’t have to be all granola and lettuce.

As consumers become more aware of the extent of the current sustainability crisis, eating habits have begun to change. This move towards more plant-based diets has had repercussions in the food production industry. Big names have started to invest in meat and dairy alternatives.

We saw the first synthetic burger make its debut in 2013.  It quite literally took to the stage and was eaten in front of an amazing audience. T

he fact that humans could grow real meat without harming animals or the Earth left us in awe. Although the lab grown meat cost thousands to make at the time, now it can be produced cheaply on a commercial scale. Just five years later, the race is on to get it on the shelves.

Something that we wouldn’t have believed to be possible is fast becoming a reality. Could synthetic meat replace traditional meat completely?

A startup called Memphis Meats is currently developing “clean meat” with investors like Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Just For All is another major player in the synthetic meat industry who promises to launch their products in supermarkets by the end of the year. Even the some of the world’s biggest meat companies like Tyson and Kraft are attempting to reinvent carnivorous staples.

Real Meat Without Slaughtering Animals

Most successful lab grown meat products are created using cell proliferation.

Let’s say we want to create a cruelty-free, eco-friendly chicken nugget. No tempeh, no tofu–we want the real deal.

As chickens have an unlimited source of cells that are constantly regenerating and regrowing, the scientists figured that they could take a handful and continue to grow them infinitely. All that is needed from the animal is a cell sample. This could be a feather for example.

This feather is then taken to the lab where it is provided with plant-based nutrients. Just as the cells would grow in the animal, they multiply quickly in the lab turning into a high-density food source–a.k.a. meat.

And it’s not just chicken, any kind of animal protein can be grown from a single cell in the lab. Synthetic meat is estimated to be 10 times more efficient than the world’s highest volume slaughterhouse.

This cutting-edge technology that is used to re-create food is going to drastically change the meat and dairy industries. Just for all’s products range from cookie dough to mayonnaise. Other companies are producing scrambled “eggs” from mung beans and brewing cow’s milk from yeast.

In the current world we live in, it is unlikely that everyone will go vegan. Meat is the centerpiece of our plates and ingrained in most cultures. However, synthetic meat offers another solution to the major problems mass-production of meat and dairy pose.

A recent Ketchum survey shows signs of an optimistic response to lab grown meat. 62% of Americans are likely to try synthetic animal products, which rises to 71% among millennials.

Lab Grown Meat is Not a Miracle Fix

Synthetic meat is also seen as a threat to the animal agriculture industry. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states that livestock supports the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people.

Farming still employs over 26% of workers globally. That’s not accounting for those working along with other parts of the meat-supply chain like in processing and packaging.

Additionally, synthetic meat is still meat. Although Lab-grown meat is dubbed “clean meat”, as it lowers the risk of microbial and antibiotic contamination.

Eating too much of it is still detrimental to human health. It increased our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Synthetic meat can ease the negative impact on the environment but at the end of the day, processed meat is still carcinogenic.

Read More: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Eating Better

The power to reconsider what we consume is in our hands. This choice empowers us to choose what the future of our planet will be. We can choose to cut down our meat and dairy consumption, become a vegetarian or take the plunge and go vegan.

With the current state of our environment, we need to consider every option possible. Yes, food choices come down to personal circumstances. But, simply eating less meat and dairy could help us prevent negative environmental impacts to the Earth.

Would you eat lab-grown meat? 

Why would anyone want the “real” thing?

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Clearly, vegan sausage–just like any other type of meat (animal-death) replacement or “substitute”–is far healthier than the rotting flesh it replaces. So why do so many people still choose the “real” thing?

Perhaps there’s something else wrong with the majority of people, besides their outward appearance or cholesterol level. There’s certainly something wrong with the way they think if they would willingly ask that animals be caged and trucked to slaughterhouses because they imagine they taste better than some plant-based “imitation”.

Worse yet, they think it’s wierd that we care that:

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Plant-Based ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ May Be the Future. But How Do They Taste?

Starting today, White Castle will serve the vegan Impossible Burger in 140 locations. Cookbook author Alison Roman tried it out, along with ‘shrimp’ made from fungi, ‘salmon’ made from algae and more

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/plant-based-meat-and-fish-may-be-the-future-but-how-do-they-taste-1523527260

When I was in high school, I made the bold and noble choice to become a vegetarian for the rest of my life (or as it happened, about three years). I loved vegetables, so a meatless diet wasn’t that daunting, with one unfortunate exception: the tacos at Jack in the Box.

Around this time, I caught wind of a rumor that the meat in those tacos was being cut—and possibly even replaced by vegetable protein. Imagine my teenage delight upon learning that my guilty pleasures were basically vegetarian.

Spoiler alert: They were not.

But that rumor was partially true: For years, Jack in the Box has added vegetable protein to its famous tacos (the company won’t say exactly how much), and meat-loving Americans still consume 554 million each year.

Turns out Jack in the Box was ahead of its time.

Today, 140 White Castle locations began serving the vegan Impossible Burger, part of a new wave of plant-based proteins that taste, cook and, in some cases, bleed like the animal version. Unlike tofu dogs and Boca Burgers, these products are aimed squarely at carnivores. The goal isn’t to placate your vegan cousin at family barbecues. The goal is to save the planet—or at least mitigate the damage that commercial fishing and cattle farming are doing to the environment. To persuade red-blooded Americans to pack their grills with pea protein, these plant-based substitutes will have to taste good—and I’m happy to report that many do. Some, however, are still in beta when it comes to flavor. Does “shrimp” made from algae taste better than shrimp? Not yet, but it’s still better than overfished oceans. I’ll take it. You should too.

The Product: Beyond Sausage

WHAT IT IS: Pea, fava and rice protein in an alginate (derived from algae) casing

WHAT IT’S IMITATING: Ground-pork sausage

WHERE TO FIND IT: Select grocery stores beginning in mid-April

Plant-Based ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ May Be the Future. But How Do They Taste?
ILLUSTRATION:NICHOLAS SLATER

THE VERDICT:If you’re like me, you have no idea what’s actually in your kielbasa or Italian hot links. And generally speaking, you’re OK with that. But Beyond Meat wants you to know how its sausage, pictured above, is made. The company spent a year and a half developing the world’s first plant-based version. The results? Pretty great. The pleasantly springy texture is spot on; the flavor is passably porky. The sausages come in Original Bratwurst, Sweet Italian and Hot Italian (my favorite); it turns out that both pork and pea protein taste better when seasoned with fennel seeds and chili flakes. Substitute these for some these some honest-to-God pork links, and add a smear of yellow mustard and a side of grilled onions. No one will be the wiser.

Pro Preparation Tip: The alginate casing tends to split if your skillet or grill is too hot, so rotate frequently to promote even browning and prevent breakage.

The taste and texture of shrimp are difficult to imitate. Fried panko bread crumbs, lemon and tartar sauce help complete the illusion.
The taste and texture of shrimp are difficult to imitate. Fried panko bread crumbs, lemon and tartar sauce help complete the illusion. PHOTO: AMANDA RINGSTAD FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL; SET STYLIST: GOZDE EKER; FOOD STYLIST: MICHELLE GATTON/HELLO ARTISTS
The Product: New Wave Foods Shrimp

WHAT IT IS: Algae extract, micro algae and other plant-based protein

WHAT IT’S IMITATING: Frozen shrimp of the plain and fried variety

WHERE TO FIND IT: Select restaurants on the West Coast and in New York City

THE VERDICT: The taste of a shrimp is determined by that shrimp’s diet, generally a mix of sea plants and algae. So it stands to reason that “shrimp” synthesized from sea plants and algae should taste like the real thing, right? The answer is: sort of. New Wave offers its plant-based shellfish in two forms: Plain (think boiled and peeled) and Crispy (pictured here; think breaded and fried). The Crispy version—coated in delicious panko bread crumbs—tastes like delicious, salty bread crumbs. The Plain ones, however, have a way to go before they can pass as the genuine article. With their squishy texture and too-bright reddish-pink hue, they more closely resemble crawfish tails than shrimp. To their credit, they do taste faintly of the sea without being overly fishy, which is no easy feat.

Plant-Based ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ May Be the Future. But How Do They Taste?
ILLUSTRATION:NICHOLAS SLATER

A SHRIMP FOR THE MASSES: Commercially caught shrimp are as fraught as they are popular, thanks to environmentally devastating trawling practices and the slave-labor scandals plaguing the industry. “In addition to solving a sustainability problem,” says New Wave Foods co-founder Dominique Barnes, “we’re trying to make a shrimp that everyone can love.” While her product contains 100% less shrimp than the leading shrimp, Barnes hopes it will reach a wider audience, including people with shellfish allergies and high cholesterol, vegans and those keeping kosher.

This fluffy scramble never saw the inside of shell.
This fluffy scramble never saw the inside of shell. PHOTO: AMANDA RINGSTAD FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL; SET STYLIST: GOZDE EKER; FOOD STYLIST: MICHELLE GATTON/HELLO ARTISTS
The Product: Just Scramble

WHAT IT IS: Mung bean protein

WHAT IT’S IMITATING: Raw, beaten eggs

WHERE TO FIND IT: Select San Francisco and Hong Kong restaurants; select grocery stores starting later in 2018

THE VERDICT: “Eggs” from a plastic bottle? Believe me, I fully expected to dislike this product. But in reality, it’s kind of good. Texturally speaking, Just Scramble is a dead ringer for the real thing when cooked properly (low and slow). But under the surprisingly eggy flavor is a faint and unfortunate sweetness. This comes from the mung beans, which are full of polysaccharides—a complex carbohydrate that reads sweet on our tongues. Ben Roche, the director of product development at Just and the developer of Just Scramble, is the first to admit that these “eggs” are a work in progress. “We are constantly tinkering, improving the flavors and textures,” says Roche, who also created the company’s sorghum-containing cookie dough. The sweetness of Just Scramble is hardly a deal breaker and is easily fixed with a few dashes of your preferred hot sauce.

The Product: Terramino Salmon

WHAT IT IS: Cultured fungi protein and algae for natural color and flavor

WHAT IT’S IMITATING: Salmon burgers and, later, fillets

WHERE TO FIND IT: Select restaurants and grocery stores in 2019

THE VERDICT: The “salmon” from Terramino Foods is still in beta, but in the year since the company launched, its co-founders—two 20-somethings fresh out of Berkeley—have managed to imitate the pale-pink color and flaky texture of America’s favorite fish. They’re still dialing in the flavor, exploring the fine line between something that tastes like fish and something that tastes fishy, but when it comes to sustainable seafood, this is a company to watch.

Plant-Based ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ May Be the Future. But How Do They Taste?
ILLUSTRATION:NICHOLAS SLATER

FISH MADE FROM FUNGI? Terramino Foods uses koji—a mold that’s a key ingredient in soy sauce, miso and other fermented foods—to culture its protein. “Unlike animal cells, fungal cells are able to synthesize their own protein out of really basic nutrients,” Terramino co-founder Josh Nixon says. “You have to feed an animal a lot of protein to get a small amount out.” The fungi generate protein from almost nothing, which is unquestionably more sustainable than fishing or even fish-farming.

Terramino Foods‚ the maker of this ‘salmon’ burger‚ recently completed the SOSV-funded accelerator program at IndieBio. SOSV‚ a venture-capital firm‚ has also mentored companies like New Wave Foods and Memphis Meats. The hearty, woodsy version of the Impossible Burger—with mushroom purée, sherry onions and truffle cream—is on the menu at Saxon & Parole in New York City.
Terramino Foods‚ the maker of this ‘salmon’ burger‚ recently completed the SOSV-funded accelerator program at IndieBio. SOSV‚ a venture-capital firm‚ has also mentored companies like New Wave Foods and Memphis Meats. The hearty, woodsy version of the Impossible Burger—with mushroom purée, sherry onions and truffle cream—is on the menu at Saxon & Parole in New York City. PHOTO: AMANDA RINGSTAD FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL; SET STYLIST: GOZDE EKER; FOOD STYLIST: MICHELLE GATTON/HELLO ARTISTS
The Product: The Impossible Burger

WHAT IT IS: Wheat, soy and potato protein

WHAT IT’S IMITATING: The classic ground-beef patty

WHERE TO FIND IT: More than 1,000 U.S. restaurants, including national chains Bareburger, Umami Burger, Fatburger, White Castle and the Counter

THE VERDICT: This isn’t the only plant-based patty shipped raw and intended for cooking, but it’s the best known and the best by a mile. And don’t call it a veggie burger. Impossible Foods has imitated the true-blue look, smell, taste and texture of a ground-beef patty in a way that is almost unsettling in the uncanny-valley sense. Their secret is an oxygen-carrying compound called heme, which makes blood appear red and makes meat taste, well, meaty. It is heme that gives the burger that I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-beef flavor and bloodiness (yes, this patty even bleeds). All this flavor and bleeding comes at a price, which for now is on par with premium ground beef. And the burger is available only in restaurants where the kitchen has been trained to prepare it—not exactly a meal for the masses. But if and when the price comes down, this is the product to give ground beef a run for its money and cut the planet a break.

Plant-Based ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ May Be the Future. But How Do They Taste?
ILLUSTRATION:NICHOLAS SLATER

THE IMPOSSIBLE EFFECT: In February, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association filed a petition with the Department of Agriculture to limit “beef” products to those that “come from cattle that have been born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner.” Their proposed definition would keep the term off alternatives made from “plants, insects or other nonanimal components.” Pat yourself on the back, plant-based burger makers. When the cattlemen are panicking, you’re doing something right.

UP NEXT: LAB-GROWN MEATS

Plant-Based ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ May Be the Future. But How Do They Taste?
ILLUSTRATION: MICHELE MARCONI

Just, the maker of Just Scramble, is growing a variety of test-tube meats. To do this, scientists extract stem cells from an animal—such as a pig or a cow—and cultivate them into muscle tissue in a lab. The result not only resembles pork or beef but is genetically identical to the stuff in your butcher’s case, with almost no environmental impact. But “clean meat” won’t catch on unless it can compete in taste and price with the conventional stuff, says Josh Tetrick, the CEO and co-founder of Just. Tetrick describes the current price per pound of his product as “unnecessarily high” and hopes to reduce it substantially before his company launches a ground lab-grown meat at the end of 2018. And the taste? To be determined. No samples were available at press time.

—ELLIOTT KRAUSE

White Castle goes highbrow? Now famous slider can come with fake beef

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The new wave of plant-based “meat” is going mainstream — and straight into one of America’s most iconic fast-food burgers, the White Castle slider.

White Castle is announcing it is introducing a vegetarian fake-meat version of its famous mini-burgers. The burger uses a patty made by a California-based start-up, Impossible Foods, which is one of several scientifically engineered products made to make plant-based ingredients taste uncannily like juicy ground beef.

Called the Impossible Slider, it will be initially sold at 140 White Castle eateries in the New York, New Jersey and greater Chicago areas with the potential for a nationwide rollout.

The White Castle Impossible Slider — made with smoked cheddar cheese, pickles, onions and a bun — features a 2-ounce patty and costs $1.99. That compares to the chain’s traditional 0.9-ounce mini-cheeseburger at about 94 cents, depending on the store location.

The new choice might come as a surprise to White Castle devotees, especially since the fake-beef burgers have largely been confined to more highbrow burger chains and restaurants until now. But White Castle executives figured it was time to give fake beef a try.

“Plant-based proteins are growing. We felt it was a good opportunity to test it with our customers,” CEO Lisa Ingram said. “We think it will appeal to a broad range of customers — those that are meat eaters who want to try something different and non-meat eaters who want this.”

She also said the new sliders might bring in new customers, too.

This isn’t White Castle’s first foray into meatless. It has been selling a Veggie Slider since 2015.

The new Slider is bigger, because “the new taste comes through more fully” when that size patty is on the regular 2-inch-squared bun, according to the company.

Until now, Impossible Foods’ faux meat was served in more upscale chains, such as Fatburger, Umami and actor Mark Wahlberg’s Wahlburger restaurant.

Competitor Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers joined the TGI Friday’s menu in January and can be found on shelves of large stores such as Kroger and Target.

Animal-protein titan Tyson Foods, which acquired a 5% ownership stake in Bill Gates-backed Beyond Meat in 2016, increased its investment in December to an undisclosed amount. Last fall, Nestle announced plans to acquire Sweet Earth, a plant-based foods manufacturer.

The Impossible Slider represents what few in the traditional beef industry thought possible — that cowless meat would be a hit in a country known for its meat-and-potatoes diet and love of burgers.

Plant-based meat alternatives are growing at rate of about 11% a year, according to the research firm Acosta. The market isn’t just vegetarians: Some 71% of people who buy plant-based meat also eat the real thing.

The meat imitators present enough of a threat that in February, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking that the terms “meat” and “beef” be applied only to food made directly from animals. Impossible Foods’ burger is made of water, wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil and heme, an iron-heavy molecule that gives it its meaty taste.

“Interest in meat alternatives seems to be driven by consumers at large, not just those looking for vegetarian lifestyles, but looking for diversification of tastes and health benefits,” said Billy Roberts, senior food and drink analyst at the global market research firm Mintel.

More: Where’s the beef? Not in these new plant-based burgers

More: Burgers now outselling classic jambon-beurre baguette sandwiches in France

More: Lego bricks will soon be plant-based, but don’t eat them

“Our business is a growth business. There’ll be increased demands for products like the Impossible Burger,” Impossible Foods Chief Operating Officer David Lee said. “People are increasingly asking about what impact food has on the environment and our health.”

His company recently expanded its manufacturing facility in Oakland and can produce 1 million pounds of its meat alternatives a month. That’s what will enable Impossible Foods to produce all the patties White Castle needs, though the privately-held Columbus, Ohio-based 376-unit chain declined to say how many it needs to sell to say the new product is a success.

By going vegan, America could feed an additional 390 million people, study suggests

By going vegan, America could feed an additional 390 million people, study suggests
It takes much more land to produce edible protein from pigs, cattle and chickens than it does to grow it from plants, according to new research. (Chuck Liddy / TNS)

 

More than 41 million Americans find themselves at risk of going hungry at some point during the year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. New research suggests the country could feed all 327 million Americans — plus roughly 390 million more — by focusing on plants.

If U.S. farmers took all the land currently devoted to raising cattle, pigs and chickens and used it to grow plants instead, they could sustain more than twice as many people as they do now, according to a report published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Set aside your cravings for cheeseburgers, bacon and chicken wings for a moment and consider the argument made by Ron Milo, a systems biology and sustainability researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and his coauthors.

The researchers examined Americans’ eating habits and agricultural production in the years 2000 to 2010. For their calculations, they used a U.S. population of 300 million (in reality, it grew from 282 million to 309 million during that period, according to the Census Bureau).

With the help of computers, they figured out how to remove beef, pork, chicken, dairy and eggs from the American diet and replace them with plant-based foods that were “nutritionally comparable.” That means the replacement foods had to provide the same amount of calories, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals without increasing fat or cholesterol — and they had to do it using the smallest amount of land possible.

Here’s what they found:

Imagine an area of land that can produce 100 grams of edible protein from plants. If you take that same amount of land and use it to produce eggs instead, you would end up with only 60 grams of edible protein — an “opportunity food loss” of 40%, the study authors found.

And that was the best-case scenario.

If that land were used to raise chickens, it would produce 50 grams of protein in the form of poultry. If it were devoted to dairy cows, it would provide 25 grams of protein in the form of milk products. If that land became a home for pigs, they would provide 10 grams of protein in the form of pork. And if you put cattle there, you’d get just 4 grams of protein in the form of beef.

Milo and his colleagues then scaled up their results to see how many more Americans could be fed by making each of those changes.

Eliminating eggs and replacing them with plants that offer the same nutrients would make it possible to feed 1 million additional people.

At the other end of the spectrum, swapping plants for beef would result in enough food to “meet the full dietary needs” of 163 million extra people.

In the middle were dairy (getting rid of it would result in food for 25 million more people), pigs (cutting them out would feed 19 million more people) and poultry chickens (without them, farmers could feed 12 million more people).

If beef, pork, chicken, dairy and eggs all were replaced by a nutritionally equivalent combination of potatoes, peanuts, soybeans and other plants, the total amount of food available to be eaten would increase by 120%, the researchers calculated.

To put that in perspective, the amount of food that’s currently wasted due to things such as spoilage and inefficient production methods is between 30% and 40% of what U.S. farmers produce.

“The effect of recovering the opportunity food loss,” the authors wrote, “is larger than completely eliminating all conventional food losses in the United States.”

That’s not to say there wouldn’t be a few downsides. Although a completely plant-based diet would provide more nutrients overall, consumption of vitamin B12 and a few other micronutrients would decline, the study authors noted.

The economic effects of eliminating all livestock-based agriculture are also unknown, they added. But two of the plusses include better health (which should reduce medical costs) and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, they wrote.

Even if you’re not ready to go vegan, Milo and his colleagues have certainly served up some food for thought…

[I have a thought, how about we go vegan AND REDUCE our population.]

The “Easter” Chick – A Lost Soul


By Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns

*Easter Egg Hunt and Egg Gathering*

The association of a hen’s egg with Easter and Spring survives ironically
in the
annual children’s Easter Egg Hunt, for the origin of this ritual has been
largely forgotten.

Traditionally, the finding of eggs was identified with the finding of
riches.
The search for eggs was part of farm life, because a free hen sensibly lays
her
eggs in a sheltered and secluded spot. Today’s children hunt for eggs that
were
laid by a hen imprisoned in a mechanized building, most likely in a wire
cage.
The widespread disappearance of the home chicken flock in the 1950s ended
the
gathering of eggs laid by a hen in the place she chose for her nest.
Historian
Page Smith writes in *The Chicken Book*, “My contemporaries who have such
dismal
memories of chickens from the unpleasant chores of their youth had
experienced
already the consequences of putting living creatures in circumstances that
are
inherently uncongenial to them.”

Wilbor Wilson provides the background to this change in *American Poultry*
*History*. He writes: “As the size of poultry ranches increased, the chore
of egg
gathering became drudgery instead of pleasure. Rollaway nests with sloping
floors made of hardware cloth offered a partial solution, but the number of
floor eggs increased when the hens did not readily adopt the wire-floored
nests.
This changed with development of the cage system which left the hen no
choice.”

*The Hen as a Symbol of Motherhood*

In our day, the hen has been degraded to an “egg machine.” In previous eras
she
embodied the essence of motherhood. The First Century CE Roman historian and
biographer Plutarch wrote of the mother hen in *De amore parentis* [
*parental*
*love*]: “What of the hens whom we observe each day at home, with what care
and
assiduity they govern and guard their chicks? Some let down their wings for
the
chicks to come under; others arch their backs for them to climb upon; there
is
no part of their bodies with which they do not wish to cherish their chicks
if
they can, nor do they do this without a joy and alacrity which they seem to
exhibit by the sound of their voices.”

In Matthew 23:37, the mother hen is evoked to express the spirit of
yearning and
protective love: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I wished to gather
your
children together, even as a hen gathers together her chicks.”

The Renaissance writer Ulisse Aldrovandi wrote of mother hens in the 16th
century:

They follow their chicks with such great love that, if they see or spy at
a
distance any harmful animal, such as a kite or a weasel or someone even
larger
stalking their little ones, the hens first gather them under the shadow of
their wings, and with this covering they put up such a very fierce
defense
– striking fear into their opponent in the midst of a frightful clamor,
using
both wings and beak – they would rather die for their chicks than seek
safety
in flight. . . . Thus they present a noble example in love of their
offspring,
as also when they feed them, offering the food they have collected and
neglecting their own hunger.

*The Role of the Rooster*

The family role of the rooster is nowadays less well known to most people
than
the motherhood of the hen. The charm of seeing a rooster with his hens
appears
in Chaucer’s portrait of Chanticleer in *The Canterbury Tales*:

This cock had in his princely sway and measure
Seven hens to satisfy his every pleasure,
Who were his sisters and his sweethearts true,
Each wonderfully like him in her hue,
Of whom the fairest-feathered throat to see
Was fair Dame Partlet. Courteous was she,
Discreet, and always acted debonairly.

In ancient times, the rooster was esteemed for his sexual vigor; it is said
that
a healthy young rooster may mate as often as thirty or more times a day. The
rooster thus figures in religious history as a symbol of divine fertility
and
the life force. In his own world of chickendom, the rooster – the cock – is
a
father, a lover, a brother, a food-finder, a guardian, and a sentinel.

Aldrovandi extolled the rooster’s domestic virtues:

He is for us the example of the best and truest father of a family. For
he not
only presents himself as a vigilant guardian of his little ones, and in
the
morning, at the proper time, invites us to our daily labor; but he sallies
forth as the first, not only with his crowing, by which he shows what
must be
done, but he sweeps everything, explores and spies out everything.

Finding food, “he calls both hens and chicks together to eat it while he
stands
like a father and host at a banquet . . . inviting them to the feast,
exercised
by a single care, that they should have something to eat. Meanwhile he
scurries
about to find something nearby, and when he has found it, he calls his
family
again in a loud voice. They run to the spot. He stretches himself up, looks
around for any danger that may be near, runs about the entire poultry yard,
here
and there plucking up a grain or two for himself without ceasing to invite
the
others to follow him.”

A nineteenth-century poultry keeper wrote to his friend that his Shanghai
cock
was “very attentive to his Hens, and exercises a most fatherly care over the
Chicks in his yard. . . . He frequently would allow them to perch on his
back,
and in this manner carry them into the house, and then up the chicken
ladder.”

___________

*KAREN DAVIS, PhD is the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns