About a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions are traceable to the food supply chain. Animal agriculture accounts for about three-quarters of those emissions and nearly 90 percent of those in the average American diet. A 2020 study found that even if all fossil fuel emissions ceased today, the food system would still push warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which most scientists consider unsafe.
If we could produce the meat we want without the suffering we now inflict, it would be one of the great achievements of our age.
There have been remarkable strides made in plant-based meat — witness the success of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods — and milks. And the next step is cultivated meat, which is meat grown directly from animal cells. This isn’t science fiction: There’s now a restaurant in Singapore where you can eat lab-grown chicken made by Eat Just. Unsurprisingly, it tastes like chicken, because that’s what it is.
Funding alternative proteins doesn’t mean adopting a vegan diet, or believing that all animal consumption is wrong. One possible future is that alternative proteins take over the market for cheap meat, replacing the commodity meat that goes into so many burgers and chicken nuggets and fish sticks, and animal-based meat becomes a much smaller part of our diet.