Being a vegetarian gets easier and easier
Sitting with my friends in a restaurant. The menu before me on the table. Everybody is still looking what to choose as one lifts his head and asks me: “Have you already chosen?”. “Well, Yes… I had a choice out of one”. “I see”, says my friend, “just one vegetarian dish, everything else is for meat lovers. lol”. “But I am a meat lover”, I say. “???” And then some discussion starts.
This is just some typical conversation that shows not only how people like meat as the main part of their meal, but also the misconception about being a vegetarian. There can be lots of reasons to be a vegetarian, but that I didn’t like meat wasn’t one of them.
These discussions, the choices and a lot of other things have changed for vegans and vegetarians. Especially in the last few years. There is some understanding, so I don’t need to defend myself anymore. In the early days (I’m around 20 years vegetarian) friends said “I could never do without meat, I just love it too much”. Now they say something like the following: “We also have a vegetarian day once a week”.
Reasons to become a vegetarian
Some vegetarians don’t like the taste of meat or they think it’s just disgusting. That’s one of the reasons to become vegetarian, so one can politely decline. I however do like the taste of meat. It’s OK when there is no meat in a meal, but I do also like some meat alternatives which look (and kindof taste) like meat.
So why did I stop eating meat? The main issue was how the meat industry works. I felt that in pre-modern times people only took as much as needed. The balance with nature wasn’t as disturbed and the animals lived a normal life. Today there are some good initiatives with biological farming, but in general animal farming is completely industrialized. Both the keeping of animals and their slaughter doesn’t take animal welfare enough into account.
The way we eat meat is far removed from the traditional ways as just an addition to our diet. We are detached from the animal kingdom and they somehow became a product. On the earth there are now living 6 billion people. Every year 60 billion animals are slaughtered for consumption. People of course don’t eat animals, but only its parts. It’s like those 60 billion animals never existed.
I think animal wellfare and most other arguments are relatively rational (as opposed to eating meat) like for example don’t eat meat because of
- Animal wellfare
- Diet issues
- A more diverse cuisine
- Health issues
- Distrust of the meat industry
- Environmental issues
- Climate change
To my surprise, not animal rights but the environment and personal health was what really exploded the vega market in the last few years. It became a lifestyle.
How easy has vegetarism become for meat lovers?
Being a vegetarian is partly about motivation and partly how easy it is to sustain. At first I found it quite hard, as 20 years ago there were only a few burgers and tofu. Though tofu tastes pretty good when well prepared, there was a time I just got bored of it. I rather had a complete vegetarian meal with vegetables than some meat replacement.
The first meat replacements were veggie burgers. There were only one or two brands on the market. For example Quorn which is based on fungus. Later also Soja burgers came to the market. In the Netherlands we had Vivera and also the Israelic Tivall (now Garden Gourmet) entered the market. Those companies brought more variety.
Variety came also with for example beetroot or quinoa burgers. Also the diary based Valess from Campina came to the market. Often those products were combined with cheese, sauces, herbs and spices to give it a better taste. With more and more choice I couldn’t be happier.
Than it got stuck for a while. The shelves for vegetarian food in supermarkets didn’t grew anymore. There were burgers, meat balls and mincemeat. This stayed more or less the same, until the market exploded a few years ago. People started to think about the impact of meat on our planet.
More consumers meant more products. Products that focused even more on how it looks like, but also try to give it a better taste. These were companies like the Vegatarian Butcher, Impossible burger and Beyond meat.
Vegan Food technology becomes the biggest ‘meat’ producer in the world
So with better products and with more consumers the big food multinationals got interested. Tivall was bought by Nestlé and became Garden Gourmet, the Vegatarian Butcher was bought by Unilever. Beyond Meat and Impossible foods started talks with McDonalds and Burger King.
Even the traditional meat industry started to wake up. Providing machines, but also products on the market (like Meat companies Vion and Kips did in the Netherlands). The Vegetarian Butcher expects that it products will be on par for price with meat in about ten years time. The no-meat market will become the biggest meat market in the world.
It looks like meat, you bake it like meat, but the taste is mhaww. Taste is important, maybe the most important, part of meat consumption. We can have a million rational arguments, but that will never be enough if also other things like taste, but also culture and feelings aren’t taken into account.
So we came a long way from tofu and carrot burgers to things that have the look & feel of real meat. Still, they don’t taste like meat. They often have an unpleasant artificial aftertaste. So what will be the next step here?
The next step is lab-grown meat. A famous quote is from Winston Churchill:
“We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium. Synthetic food will, of course, also be used in the future.”
Winston Churchill predicted the rise of synthetic foods in 1931. But it was one thing to predict it, it’s a total different thing to make it a reality. One of those pioneers is Mark Post of the university of Maastricht. He created the first artificial meat burger which costed approximately 250.000 dollar. The burger only had ‘muscles’ and not any fat.
This research was funded by Google founder Sergey Brin, but after the presentation it caught also the eye of other investors. With the new investment the company wants to bring the price down by mass production. Other research companies like Mosa meat try to create chicken and all other kinds of meat. An extensive list of cell based meat companies is found on this website:
Lab Grown Meat Companies — Cell Based Tech
The following is a comprehensive up to the minute list of companies directly producing lab grown meat. The list is…
Great people like Bill Gates or Sergey Brin are investing more and more in these alternatives. It’s fun to see how the tech approach of product development comes to the food industry. This means lab-grown meat is developed the same as an iPhone or Tesla. With each iteration it’s getting better. Then you will see that general public is getting into it. At the end the consumer will decide if it is successful.
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