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How sustainable is fake meat?

Promotional image of burgers and fries.

Zoom in / a bunch of plant-based Impossible Burgers.

If you are an eco-friendly Conscious meat eaters, you probably feel at least a little guilt about the dinner table. The meat on our plates comes at a huge environmental cost through deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and air and water pollution – a troubling reality given the world’s urgent need to tackle climate change.

That’s a big reason why today’s newcomer to supermarket shelves and burger joint menus is causing such a stir: Looks like real meat but is completely animal-free The product. Unlike the bean- or grain-based veggie burgers of past decades, these “plant-based meats,” most notably the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, are marketed primarily to traditional meat eaters. They claim to replicate the taste and texture of real ground meat at a fraction of the environmental cost.

If these novelty meat substitutes can fill most of our meat needs — if they’re as green as they claim Easy to independently verify – they may offer carnivores a way to reduce the environmental impact of their meal choices without giving up their favorite recipes.

Some believe this could be a game changer. “People have been educated about the hazards of animal husbandry for a long time, but the percentage of vegetarians and vegans is still generally low,” said Elliot Swartz, a scientist at the Good Food Institute, an international nonprofit that supports the development of alternatives. Meat. “Instead of forcing people to change their behavior, we thought it would be more effective to substitute products into their diets when they didn’t have to change their behavior.”

None Doubt, today’s meat industry is bad for the planet. Livestock is responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, both direct (from methane from cattle and other grazing animals and from manure from feedlots, swine and chicken houses) and indirect (mainly from use in farming Fossil fuels for fodder crops). Indeed, if the cows on earth were a country, their greenhouse gas emissions alone would rank second in the world, after China. Global demand for meat continues to rise with little sign of slowing. Much of the increase comes from middle-income countries, where consumers use their increasing wealth to put more meat on their plates.

To make matters worse, U.S. countries expect global demand for meat to grow by 15% by 2031 as the world increasingly A larger—and increasingly wealthy—population seeks out more meat on their plates. That means more methane emissions and the expansion of pastures and farmland into formerly forested areas like the Amazon – deforestation that threatens biodiversity and further contributes to emissions.

Global meat demand continues to rise with few signs of slowing down. Much of the growth has come from middle-income countries, where consumers have used their growing wealth to put more meat on their plates.

Global demand for meat continues to rise with little sign of slowing. Much of the increase comes from middle-income countries, where consumers use their increasing wealth to put more meat on their plates.

However, and​ ​Not all species of carnivores contribute equally to this problem. Grazing animals such as cattle, sheep and goats emit far greater greenhouse gas emissions than non-herbivore animals such as pigs and chickens. This is in large part because of only the former burp methane, which occurs when gut microbes digest the cellulose in grass and other forages.

Pigs and chickens are also a lot more efficient at converting feed into edible meat: chickens need less than two pounds of feed​​​ It takes about three to five pounds to gain a pound. (The rest of the energy costs for everyday life: circulating blood, getting around, keeping warm, fighting bacteria, etc.) Compare that to 6 to 10 pounds of feed per pound of cow.

So beef cattle emit more than six times as much greenhouse gas per pound of meat as pigs and nearly nine times as much as chicken. (Paradoxically, grass-fed cattle—often considered a more environmentally friendly alternative to feedlot beef—are actually bigger climate sinners, because grass-fed animals mature more slowly and therefore take more time to burp .)



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