Everywhere you look these days people are promoting ever more realistic plant-based alternatives to meat.
But will fake meat save the planet?
I took a look at the case for and against and came to my own conclusions.
The Case For Fake Meat
Of course, the main case for fake meat is based on a stream of pro-vegan facts. For example, Impossible Foods says that their soy-based burger uses nearly 90% less water, more than 95% less land and offers 89% less greenhouse gas emissions than a standard beef burger.
They will say that experts agree that we must all move away from eating meat and that one way to make this easy is to begin eating faux meat.
Throw in the emotive case for animal rights and there is a very powerful argument in favor of fake meat.
And, of course, there’s the simple fact that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are said to come from cattle-based agriculture and that means they are a major contributor to global warming.
The Case Against Fake Meat
The case against fake meat is that a lot of the benefits are overstated. It’s nice to pretend that soy uses less land than cows do, but cows often graze land that cannot be farmed for vegetables.
Cows also, to put it politely, need to poo and cow dung is not some sort of optional extra for the planet – there are tens of thousands of insect species that depend on animal feces for survival and let’s not pretend that fake meat leads to a planet covered in cows, it doesn’t.
Then there’s also the fact that many of these fake meat products have a list of ingredients which are horrific. They’re full of additives, preservatives and chemicals, they don’t look like a “healthy” alternative to meat.
And while many animal rights activists will tell you that leather comes from a cruel industry that throws out the rest of the animal, the truth is that 99% of leather comes from cows used for meat and dairy products.
The Balanced View On Fake Meat
We think that if you’re going to go plant-based that you might want to think twice about eating fake meat.
We’re 100% supportive of the idea that veganism has a hugely positive impact on the planet, but we’re less convinced of the arguments of a new multi-billion dollar industry that heavy processing and lots of additives will save the planet.
It’s true that animal husbandry has damaging effects on our planet and we think that on the balance of the facts – that the beneficial effects of not eating meat probably outweigh the positive impacts of animal farming.
However, we think if you want to save the planet, it’s better to eat fruit and vegetables without turning them into a simulation of meat.
And if you really want to maximize your impact, you need to increase sustainable practices throughout your life, not just change your diet.
Fake meat probably won’t save the planet. We also need to work out what we’re going to do with the livestock that we currently raise for meat because they too play an important part in the global ecology.
However, it is true that reducing the amount of meat we consume can help to save the planet as part of a broader spectrum of action to live a more sustainable life.
Nicholas Barang has lived in Asia for nearly 15 years. He makes his living as a writer, marketer, and blogger. His passions include photography, reading and Heavy Metal. He’s the co-founder of Nomad Talk.