With human population growth expected to steadily increase, projected to hit 9.77 billion by 2050 and 11.18 billion by the turn of the century (1), our species’ production of waste and requirement for nutrients will continue to grow as we do.
According to the Global Footprint Network…
Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.
When we combine the likelihood that our resource use will treble by the earlier mark of 2050 (2) with humankind’s reticence to abandon well entrenched food habits and the knowledge that meat, particularly beef, is the largest food source of environmental destruction (3), and we must find alternate means of fulfilling requirements, and quickly.
With two irrevocable facts:
Our global population is increasing, and
Our thirst for meat continues to rise…
What can we do to avoid environmental chaos while accepting that widespread change to a vegan lifestyle is less than likely?
The powerful answer has formed within the last decade from a culmination of years of research and technological advances: cultured meat.
This high quality protein source contains the amino acids and nutrients of meat because it is meat, without the slaughter, carnage and unsustainable environmental damage.
It, therefore, offers serious advantages to the Earth, our wellbeing and our very viability.
Cultured Meat production: an efficient, environmental alternative
Whether by grazing or farm lots, the production of animals for food is inefficient. (4) Add to this the transport of live animals for sale, slaughter and subsequent distribution and both meat production and transportation have a significant negative impact on fossil fuel use and Co2 emissions (5)(6) Growing only the meat required without the artifacts like organs and bones, that require transportation and disposal, subsequently reduces shipping needs further as products come ready portioned.
Cultured meat allows significant reductions in energy use (7–45% lower), green house emissions (78–96% lower), land use (99% lower), and water use (82–96% lower). (7) When we consider the size of the burgeoning global population, each of these factors alone is crucial; combined we have a compelling way to improve meat production efficiency while protecting our planet.
Detoxification of our environment
In their study, Livestock and global change: Emerging issues for sustainable food systems (8), Mario Herrero and Philip K. Thornton Livestock noted that livestock is the largest land use sector on Earth. With animal husbandry widespread, we must consider the hormones and antibiotics released in the urine and manure of these animals. Because…
What happens to our ground, and spills into our waterways, matters.
Veterinary antibiotic use continues an upward trend. (9) As it does, thousands of tonnes reach our ground and water ways, contaminating our Earth and her streams, rivers, lakes and seas. (10) Further, the groundwaters of many countries are contaminated by the pesticides and excess nutrients from feedstock and livestock farming. And while inhabited areas are effected, rivers, lakes and sea waters contain even higher levels of toxins, with agriculture often a significant cause. (11)
Within a controlled environment, nutrients and conditions can be precisely adjusted and food can be grown without excess. Cultured meat can be produced without the fear of contamination that breeds human disease, ameliorating ubiquitous antibiotic use. The conditions cultured meat is produced in enable minute monitoring and condition alteration to maximize growth. These dual factors can potentially eliminate the need for antibiotic use and therefore mitigate the significant contribution these toxins currently make to our environment.
And as waste can be efficiently collected and disposed of within a closed loop, the toxic impact can be greatly lessened by choosing cultured meat.
A taste for a happier environment and healthier people
All food is formed from macro and micronutrients that give it its nutrient power, smell, texture and taste. Because we understand the components required to craft steak, lamb, pork, poultry and fish, as unromantic as it may initially seem to some, cultured meat is an excellent answer to a serious question. It’s a necessary cog in our quest for a better life, past survival and environmental catastrophe and into a brave, sustainable world