Opinion: Cultured and plant based meats will reduce emissions from the meat industry


Sophie Hance

Plant-based meat options are now readily available in many grocery stores and specialty shops. Increasing consumption of these products will help to reduce carbon emissions globally.

Scientists have recently estimated there are approximately 11 years left to mend the damage caused by pollution before some of the effects are irreversible. Despite their warning, however, it seems as if nobody is springing into action to avoid it.
From a young age, we were taught about common things that cause pollution, like factories, cars, and homes, but an additional industry has been releasing an enormous amount of emissions right under our noses: the meat industry.
Many people are unaware of this. In fact, most people don’t even research their food before they buy it, beyond looking at the label. Some may notice the “grass fed” or “cage free” packaging on the label in support of animals, but neglect to realize the detrimental effects it has on the earth.
Shockingly, up to 14.8 pounds of CO2 is produced per pound of beef. In 2019, the U.S. produced 27.48 billion pounds of beef, meaning an immense amount of CO2 was released from the beef industry alone.
The reason the meat industry emits so much pollution is because animals produce methane, trees are deforested to make room for the farms, and the machinery used produces CO2. All of these different emissions added up are detrimental to the environment.
People are passionate about food and eat based on flavor instead of necessity. This makes it extremely difficult to persuade them into changing their diet. However, there are a few new products that could entice even the most stubborn people: plant-based and cultured meats.
There is a stigma that plant-based meats taste far off from the real thing. However, in 2019, a company called Impossible Foods invented the “Impossible Burger,” which is said to taste almost exactly the same as regular meat.
According to Business Insider, a chemical compound inside soy called leghemoglobin makes the burger look, taste, and smell real. Real enough for restaurants like Burger King to start selling it.
Everyday, products like these evolve and improve. It is without a doubt that in the near future, we will not be able to distinguish between real and plant-based meats. Not only will this help their products sell, but it will also be a key factor in transitioning away from the meat industry.
Since people are attached to the flavor and texture of meat, making plant-based meats more similar to the real thing will make people more willing to make the switch, but there will still be some skepticism about this.
Luckly, there is another way. In 1991, an American scientist named Jon F. Vein got a patent for the creation of a product called cultured meat.
Cultured meat is real meat that is genetically engineered in a lab and is done by replicating cells from an animal to keep it alive. This method is popular with animal rights activists, but is more importantly better for the environment, more efficient and healthier.
All of the emissions from the farms and animals, the mass intake of water and the deforestation of trees will be avoided if we use this method of supplying meat. Also, instead of waiting up to 42 months for a calf to grow before slaughter, cultured meat takes a matter of weeks to develop.
Along with having less fat, cultured meat will have little to no cholesterol. Red meat is notorious for being involved in the development of heart disease, but if the meat is cultured, the lack of saturated fats will decrease this possibility.
Unlike plant-based meats, cultured meats taste exactly like real meat because, well, it is real meat. This could be beneficial for transition to other sources of meat because it will appeal to more people, thus helping the environment.
Although cultured meat has not been released to the public, it is only months away from being available. It will eventually also be significantly cheaper than actual meat.
Cultured and plant based meats have the capability to aid the environment immensely through their appeal to the public. Even if they don’t realize they’re doing it, people who eat these products will reduce the amount of pollution by a significant amount and help save the planet.
Switching to these types of meat or simply spreading the word about them can improve our quality of life, but more importantly, the environment. So next time you go to the store, think about giving it a try.