The highlight of this year’s Oscar fest was Leonardo DiCaprio’s win and of course, the acceptance speech that he seemed to have practiced for a while. For those who paid attention, there was a little line that he uttered during the speech, where he said “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” Yes, if you go beyond the immense hype of the news about the win and actually read between the lines, you may see something much more impactful happening right now, something that you just can’t miss!
You may be wondering about how you as an individual can help in reducing climate change? Well, before we go into the blame game and start pointing fingers, we should check out some people are actually contributing to a change. One of these brilliant innovators, a company which is doing their part in reducing climate change and helping to change our relationship with the planet as a whole, is Beyond Meat. The aspect of climate change that they are concentrating on is the inherent way in which rearing of livestock and cattle for the purpose of consumption is affecting the planet as a whole.
Tripped Out Fact: Livestock, in general, contributes about 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, which is roughly equivalent to about 51 percent of the total emissions. This means that the problems that arise through livestock rearing are more or at least equally responsible for the production of increased degrees of greenhouse gas emissions as are fossil fuels.
The various measures that come along with livestock rearing include aspects such as reserving large degrees of land for the purpose of grazing, the destruction of agricultural lands for the purpose of creating space for grasslands, and the amount of fodder that needs to be generated for livestock in order to take care of their nutritional needs. Moreover, the amount of methane which is released from cattle is also huge, methane being one of the most powerful greenhouse gases among all of them. The inherent degree of harm that is imparted onto the planet due to this blatant cultivation of “living carbon sinks” is unparalleled to any other sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
So, where does Beyond Meat come into the picture? The company, founded by CEO Ethan Brown in the year 2009, aims to produce alternatives to meat products which can turn a hardcore non-vegetarian into a vegan! Even though this may be a considerably huge thing to talk about, owing to a large number of people who would not risk missing their daily steak or bacon strips, the start-up has definitely conjured up something that is sure to change the future of meat products as we know. What the company specializes in is the production of plant-based alternatives to meat products, which in turn taste very similar to meat, complete with flavor as well as texture. This means you may be eating a completely vegetarian dish which tastes just like chicken or pork or beef!
The best part in the case of these products is the fact that the changes are done at a molecular level in order to rearrange the minute structures which make up meat as a food product. In a nutshell, if we go into the microscopic level, we see that the inherent molecules that make up the meat products are the same which plants and fibrous products are made up of. For instance, if we take a general meat product such as chicken strips, the constituents consist of amino acids, fats, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and water. These are the exact constituents of meat-based products as well, albeit having changes in the degree of concentration of the constituent molecules. What Beyond Meat specializes in is actually rearranging the molecular constituents of the plant-based alternatives into a composition which resembles meat.
Other than this molecular rearrangement, the company also specializes in adding natural meat-based flavors to the fibrous plant products. Other than this, one of the more important aspects that the company focuses on is ensuring that the overall texture of the meat is maintained to a large degree, which is essentially the most important thing that people identify with while consuming meat.
Now, the company has created its latest product through which it looks to influence the larger population of meat eaters in developed countries. The company has done this by introducing the Beast Burger, which in turn looks to replicate the hamburger, one of the most favorite dishes of a meat-obsessed nation. The best part is that the innovation would be much healthier and nutritious than a normal hamburger, owing to the higher amounts of iron, fiber, and other constituents that it would contain. This has led to the labeling of the product as “Super Meat”!
Brown says the company has a long way to go before it can actually replicate meat in a convincing and appropriate manner. However, as plant based derivatives have become equivalent and even better than their meat-based counterparts, the future looks like one which can be changed at our whim. Imagine if we could combat climate change with one decision in our lives, and that choice has been much easier and convenient for us, so that the blow of change can be cushioned with the silky nature of familiarity. Will you take the plunge for the future of the planet if there is a synthetic pillow of plant-based super meat awaiting you at the bottom of the abyss?