Showing results for: Meat, eggs and alternatives
Meat, eggs and new alternatives such as soy-meat, Quorn, or lab-grown meat are foods that are often rich in protein and essential micronutrients. However they may also be high in saturated fat and, when processed, in salt. Consumption of meat is very high in most high income countries and is on the rise in middle income countries. While an overly high consumption is associated with ill-health and disease, in countries where people’s diets are lacking in diversity and essential micronutrients – as is the case in many low income countries – animal products can play an important nutritional role. Meat products are also associated with very high GHG emissions; farmed animals contribute some 14.5% of human-made GHG emissions. Animal production also contributes to many other negative environmental impacts including deforestation and associated biodiversity loss, land degradation and soil and water pollution. The production of animals for slaughter and use also raises a complex set of ethical and welfare issues.
This report by UK sustainability consultancy 3Keel assesses the quantity, origin and certification status of soy in the supply chains of animal products sold by 11 European retailers (including UK supermarkets such as ALDI, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s). It finds that 25% of this soy footprint was claimed to be free of deforestation - an increase over the previous year’s figure. The remaining 75% of the soy footprint is not claimed to meet any deforestation-free standard.
In this paper, FCRN member Raychel Santo reviews evidence on the potential benefits and risks of the production and consumption of plant-based and cell-based meat alternatives. The paper covers implications for health, environmental performance, animal welfare, economy and policy.
UK cultured meat startup Higher Steaks has created one of the world’s first lab-grown pork products (Mission Barns claims to have created, but not publicised, a lab-grown bacon prototype in May 2020). The Higher Steaks pork belly is made of 50% cultivated cells, and the bacon product contains 70% cultivated cells, with the remaining material being plant-based.
The Good Food Institute, a US alternative protein nonprofit, has released a collaborative research directory listing researchers who are active in the alternative protein space and those who want to work in the field. The directory lists location, research interests and whether institutions are hiring staff.
NGO Greenpeace Brazil reports that some meat companies that have exported beef from Brazil to the UK, among other countries, have received cattle that have, for part of their life, been grazed on illegally deforested areas within the protected Ricardo Franco State Park. Greenpeace describes the process as “cattle laundering” because the cattle are sent to other farms (not linked to illegal deforestation) later in their life, to hide the links to deforestation.
According to this paper, participants in a survey of 193 Dutch citizens were more likely to view cultured meat favourably after they were given information about its purported benefits, compared to before they were given information. Most participants were willing to pay a premium of 37%, on average, for cultured meat over conventional meat.
This blog post from US think tank The Breakthrough Institute examines uncertainties around the environmental impacts of cultured meat. It points out that estimates of the carbon footprint of cultured meat are highly variable, and that the impacts of switching to cultured meat depend on what it is replacing in the diet (e.g. beef, poultry, plant-based meats or tofu).
This blog post John Lynch of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People programme asks whether we can keep farming cows and sheep without dangerously warming the planet. He points out that it is possible to maintain stable temperatures without eliminating methane emissions entirely (in contrast to CO2 where emissions have to fall to net zero to tackle climate change). However, ruminant methane emissions are currently increasing. Furthermore, ruminants use a lot of land, some of which could be used for other purposes that might sequester more carbon.
This report from US thinktank The Breakthrough Institute lays out the economic and environmental case for expanding federal support for alternative protein research and industry expansion. COVID-19 is not only impacting the meat processing industry - many alternative protein startups are also closed or threatened by declines in investment funding. The report estimates that the alternative protein industry could generate over 200,000 US jobs in the long-term, but only if the government provides support to the nascent industry to ensure it does not collapse because of COVID-19. Support might include small business innovation programmes, loan guarantees, and research and development programmes.
This opinion piece by Liz Specht of the US Good Food Institute argues that taking animals out of the global food system - for example by replacing animal products with plant-based or cultivated meat products - can reduce the risk of future pandemics. Specht notes that zoonotic diseases usually pass to humans during the hunting or slaughter of wild animals or livestock.
This report from UK food waste organisation Feedback makes a case for the end of industrial animal agriculture and calls for divestment from large livestock companies, arguing that the business model of “Big Livestock” is incompatible with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Good Food Institute (US-based non-profit) has launched a database of funding opportunities in the alternative protein space, including opportunities related to plant-based proteins, cellular agriculture and proteins derived from fermentation.
This blog piece, by anthropologist Sarah Duignan of McMaster University, argues that a risk of cellular agriculture (i.e. lab-grown meat) is that some people may not benefit from the technology (despite its potential environmental benefits). For example, beef farmers may find themselves in similar difficulties to dairy farmers, who are struggling already because of decreased demand.
The Florida-based Cellular Agriculture Society has just relaunched its website with the aim of building a home for cellular agriculture on the internet. The website sets out a vision of what a future with cellular agriculture could look like, and explains how the processes of tissue culture and protein fermentation work.
The Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium, an interdisciplinary group applying computing techniques to the cultivated meat sector, has released a white paper based on the Consortium’s first meeting. The paper sets out ways in which modelling might be able to optimise cultivated meat manufacturing, including assessing different bioreactor designs, designing experiments with different growth media, and generating databases of the characteristics of the cell types (e.g. animal species) that are most likely to be used in cultivated meat.
In this podcast, FCRN member ffinlo Costain interviews Jenny Packwood (Director of Responsibility & Reputation for KFC UK & Ireland) and Annie Rayner and Kelly Watson (experts in broiler systems and behaviour, working at FAI Farms) to find out how the European Chicken Commitment is changing the welfare of chickens and to discuss the practical implications of delivering the requirements of the commitment.
This report by Hong Kong media platform Green Queen gives an overview of alternative protein startups in Asia, in the categories of cultivated protein (e.g. laboratory-grown meat), modern processed plant-based products, and whole-food alternatives (such as jackfruit or lion’s mane mushrooms, which are sometimes used to mimic the texture of meat despite not having the same protein content). The authors argue that Asia’s alternative protein industry is likely to overtake US and European brands because of demand from Asia’s growing middle class, relatively low production costs and products that are tailored to local tastes.