All of my close family and friends know one thing about me, I love meat! However since starting Planet B Insights (and for sporadic periods prior) I became a vegetarian. This is due to the heavy contribution the meat production industry has on climate change. As our planet faces more challenges with growing population, rise of the middle class and scarce resources, new and viable alternatives must be created.
The Moment That Triggered It All
Back in 2016 I went to the south west of Africa. It was an experience that really challenged many of my beliefs, ideals and values. One thing that really stood out to me was the impact of climate change on small landholder farmers in Africa.
I wrote a blog on this topic after my experience which you can read here. Below is a snippet of what I wrote:
The effects of climate change really hit home when I saw the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security in Africa. I read articles, spoke with locals and the overwhelming response was that climate change is making agricultural productivity even more difficult which in turn is decreasing food security.My Medium Blog ‘Another bloody blog about climate change’
In contrast, food security is something I know little about as I usually live in a mirage of infinite resources at the ready for my consumption.
Climate change is driving strong weather volatility which makes farm management even more difficult than ever. This is leading to food security in Africa being in more danger than previously thought. 70% of African food is produced by small landholder farmers and farmers on a small scale are unable to reach productivity because they can’t predict weather conditions and monitor production.
Obviously food security is a multi faceted issue with many drivers, however I think there is no denying that climate change is here and it is not going away. In fact, it will only become more prominent with the population set to rise by 35% by 2050, which will only exacerbate the effects.
Climate change is yet another way that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Meat’s Impact on Climate Change
Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, with cattle a main contributor.
Cows emit a massive amount of methane. Some experts say 100 litres to 200 litres a day, while others say it’s up to 500 litres a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.
So, What Are The Alternatives?
Well, plant based meat has been around for years. From soy burgers to pulled oats, alternatives have been created to partly feed the protein and iron requirements for vegetarians. However, this is not a feasible option for the majority of the population who are not willing to part with the delicious taste of juicy animal meat! The plant based options often taste starchy, stringy or worse, tasteless!!!
What IS Beyond Meat?
Beyond Meat is a California based startup offering a new alternative to meat that looks and tastes like real meat. Their mission is to create the future of protein. According to their website, ‘The Beyond Burger is the world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef, without GMOs, soy, or gluten.’
The main ingredient is pea extract and a range of non GMO ingredients. The white marbling that looks like fat is made from coconut oil and cocoa butter which makes it juicy and delicious. Each burger portion has 20 grams of protein in it.
Is It Really Better For The Environment?
Firstly, no animals were harmed in the production of the patty. Further, their environmental footprint is drastically less than a traditional beef patty. According to their website, compared to a traditional beef patty, Beyond Meat uses:
Most Importantly, How Does It Compare to Beef?
I was surprised at the realistic taste and texture of the burger. I had it at a Vegan restaurant in Madrid and they obviously know how to cook it well as it was just like eating a Grill’d burger from home. I am interested to try and cook with it as I am not sure if it would be difficult to cook or if it would just be like cooking a normal burger.
One thing I noticed is it is quite salty, so be prepared to have a litre of two of water afterwards.
Also I am not the only one who loved the flavour. According to Beyond Meat’s data, 70 percent of those who purchase the Beyond Burger were omnivores. So it is not just for hippies, vegans and plant lovers! Their range extends beyond patties including sausages, mince and crumble.
Beyond Burger packs a punch with iron and protein, two common deficiencies in vegetarians. The below beef comparison is done with USDA National Nutrient Database, so some beef products may vary in comparison in Australia.
But Don’t Listen to me, Listen to LEO!!!
One of our fave actors and climate change activists, Leonardo DiCaprio invested in Beyond Meat in 2017 and has been a strong advocate ever since.
According to Beyond Meat’s press release, DiCaprio said, “Livestock production is a major contributor to carbon emissions. “Shifting from animal meat to the plant-based meats developed by Beyond Meat is one of the most powerful measures someone can take to reduce their impact on our climate. Beyond Meat’s ability to create appealing, healthy meat directly from plants will go a long way in helping everyday consumers take action on climate change.”
Where Can You Get It In Australia?
Grill’d in Australia offers the Beyond Burger. It has a range of flavours and options available and I think it costs an extra dollar or two. However, from reports from meat loving friends who have tried it, they enjoyed it immensely!
It is also available at Lord of The Fries and in select IGA and Coles in NSW. Hopefully it will become a viable global alternative soon. However for now, when you’re off to Grill’d next, give Beyond Meat a crack and let us know what you think.
You can also follow Beyond Meat on Instagram and Facebook for the latest news of their suppliers.
I was surprised at the realistic flavour and texture of the Beyond Meat burger. When looking at meat alternatives this one has the potential to persuade meat lovers who are not willing to give up their steaks and ribs but want to reduce their environmental impact on occasion. This is a key development for tackling climate change in the meat industry. By making the taste and flavour almost the same as a much loved, mainstream item, it makes consumer switching a viable option. If everyone swapped out to a delicious plant based option a few times a week, there would be a significant shift towards a healthier climate!
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