Sustainability Gains from Meat Alternatives

“Meat, an important source of protein and other nutrients in human diets, is one of the major drivers of global environmental change in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, land and water use, animal welfare, human health and directions of breeding. Novel alternatives, including novel meat proxies (cultured meat, plant-based meat alternatives), insects and novel protein sources (like algae) receive increasing attention. But plausible socio-technological pathways for their further development have not yet been compared in an integrative, interdisciplinary perspective.”

“High levels of transformation and processing limit the environmental sustainability gains of cultured meat, highly processed plant-based meat alternatives, algae- and insect-based food. At the same time, a high degree of societal coordination is needed to enable the potentially disruptive level of technological, organisational and institutional innovations needed to make these novel alternatives viable. Widespread expectations that solutions require break-through novelties or high-tech alternatives imply a neglect of existing and viable alternatives.”

“Our integrative analysis suggests that the priority given to meat alternatives with limited sustainability potential does not just raise questions of technological optimisation of production systems, but is also a second-order problem of the framing of search directions.”

Read more: Meat alternatives; an integrative comparison, Cor van de Weele et al., Trends in Food Science and Technology, April 2019. Image: Presentation of the world’s first cultured hamburger being baked at a news conference in London on 5 August 2013. World Economic Forum (CC BY 3.0)

Animals as the Answer to Recycling Food waste

Mountains of food scraps end up in landfills every day. While northern countries glorify attempts to facilitate this trash-to-treasure process using state-of-the-art technologies, Bobbili, a town in Northeast India, adopts a tech-free solution – a park using animals for solid waste management.

animals recycling food waste

Livestock at waste management park in Bobbili, India

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21st Century Toy Farm

21st century toy farm

Toy farm 2

“Hoping to cultivate a better understanding of where the food on our plates comes from, Tomm Velthuis designed a toy farm highlighting the unsustainable reality of the meat industry.

The wooden set, called Playing Food, comes complete with 200 pigs, the enormous amounts of food required to fatten them up, the trees that must be cleared for feed crops, and the acid rain caused by the pigs’ manure. It’s factory farming packaged as an ‘innocent’ childhood toy.”

See more pictures at Tomm’s blog. The farm is on display at mEATing-kill your darlings, an art event about our relationship with meat and animals in Tilburg, the Netherlands. See also: Can I see your Meat License?

Can I See Your Meat License?

meat licensePeople who are comfortable with eating meat, should be equally comfortable with killings animals, thinks UK artist John O’Shea.

Since 2008, he has worked towards the development of a new kind of law which would require active citizen engagement with the act of animal slaughter implicit in meat production.

The draft of the Meat Licencing Act states that:

It is against the law to purchase or consume meat, without an appropriate license.

People wishing to purchase or consume meat, are required, by law, to obtain an appropriate licence.

It is through a specific and supervised engagement in the act of killing an animal, that citizens will obtain their meat license.

Launching 1st November 2013, at mEATing in Tilburg Netherlands, Meat License Legal documents are available in limited edition of 100 to any individual who has legally demonstrated their own specific and personal engagement with acts of killing. Dutch chef and photographer, Sascha Landshoff (assisted by Philip Schuette) became the first individual to obtain the Meat Licence.

Don’t miss mEATing – kill your darlings if you are in the Netherlands. It is a provocative event that questions our relationship with meat and animals. mEATing runs until November 30.

Insects as a Sustainable Feed Ingredient in Pig and Poultry Diets

“Use of insects as a sustainable protein rich feed ingredient in pig and poultry feed is technically feasible. Insects can be reared on low-grade bio-waste and can turn low-grade bio-waste into high quality proteins. Insects therefore can be a promising interesting link in the animal feed chain to fulfil the globally increased demand for protein.”

Insects as a sustainable feed ingredient in pig and poultry diets – a feasibility study” (PDF), Livestock Research, Wageningen University, October 2012. Previously: Mass Insect Farming / Edible Insects and Insecticides.

Edible Insects and Insecticides

Edible wasps“Indeed, it is ironical that many international and non-governmental organisations try to save crops that contain no more than 14 percent protein by killing another food source (insects) that may contain up to 75 percent high-quality protein.”

Julieta Ramos-Elorduy in “Ecological implications of minilivestock“, red. Maurizio Paoletti, 2005.

See also: “Edible forest insects: humans bite back!!” (.pdf 4MB), Patrick Durst, Dennis Johnson, Robin Leslie, Kenichi Shono, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2010. Summary at the edible forest insects FAO-website. Previously: mass insect-farming.