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Summary:

New innovations are looking to create much more efficient ways to create meat products . . . and they don’t come from animals.

Innovation could utterly transform the way meat is created and consumed in the world, making it more efficient and removing some of the problems like greenhouse emissions. While I didn’t get a chance to attend The Intersection conference at the Googleplex recently, a sentence from notes on a discussion between VC Steve Jurvetson and Microsoft co-founder Nathan Myhrvold at the event stood out for me on the subject of meat and innovation: “Killing a cow is the least effective way to make a steak.”

Over the years the meat industry has delivered efficiency in animal raising, slaughtering and meat production through factory farming, which reduces the time it takes for animals to mature with corn-based diets, antibiotics, hormones and other industrial feeding and slaughtering techniques. But maximizing the efficiency of industrial meat production has led to a lot of unintended negative consequences and a growing movement of people who will pay more for organic, local meat or will forgo meat altogether.

But what if you could reduce, or eliminate, the whole traditional meat production industry completely? That’s the idea behind new types of plant-based proteins, so-called in-vitro meat production and more integral approaches to reducing meat consumption. Because the world’s population is rapidly growing to 9 billion by 2050, and developing countries have emerging middle classes that want a higher standard of living, alternative protein and meat production could find a market in the developing world first.

Here’s three new technologies being developed that can reduce eating animals:

  • Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs invested in a food startup called Modern Meadow, which aims to combine in-vitro meat with 3D printing. The idea is to print out a meat product from biological materials.
  • Beyond Meat is a startup backed by Obvious Corp — the group that created Twitter — which is creating next-gen plant-based meat substitutes. The product is on sale in a few select locations at Whole Foods in Northern California.
  • Foodpairing is a food industry research company and app developer that has broken down flavor to its molecular components and compiled databases that can identify vegetable or seafood ingredients that reinforce the flavor of different meats, or can act as a substitute for a meat entirely.

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  1. No thanks, we already eat crap processed into our diets.

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  2. Sounds like the McRib.

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  3. “Least effective” or “least efficient”?

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  4. Wheat is toxic, corn is toxic, canola/rapeseed/flaxseed is toxic, why would I trust the food industry to feed me yet another plant.

    The reason people eat beef is because grass-fed beef (unfortunately, most beef is not grass fed thus this doesn’t apply to them, although this could be changed in less than 5 years if consumers forced them to) is high in omega 3, low in omega 6, and high in vitamin D, plus is full of a lot of other much needed vitamins (although many of these CAN safely be gotten from plants).

    Unless they produce a plant that is non-toxic, the nutrition is actually in the plant matter and not seeds, contains large amounts of vitamin D and non-ALA omega 3 (omega 3 from ALA, such as from flaxseed is non-bioavailable snake oil and should, honestly, be illegal), and actually tastes like beef, then I’ll consider it.

    In fact, I’ll hitch a ride on a flying pig just to shake their hands in person.

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  5. danielmalvarado Monday, January 28, 2013

    They have Beyond Meat in the deli section of some Whole Foods – it’s DELICIOUS!

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  6. Interesting, couldn’t help but think of the steak eating scene in the movie The Fly, “it’s missing something…”.

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  7. “developing countries have emerging middle classes that want a higher standard of living, alternative protein and meat production could find a market in the developing world first.”

    My BS meter is going crazy right now.

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  8. Circular File It Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    Abhorrent, just like PETA! Keep your lab created crap out of our food supply. Dyes, GMOs “food grade whatevers.” Feed them to your kids and when they rot from all of these “rare” diseases and disorders that keep cropping up, it will be the end of your blood line and we can go back to eating natural food again.

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    1. Show me a GM food caused illness – hell, show me a GM food cause tummy ache, and I will show you a liar.

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  9. Vivienne Waterworth Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    All those food additives cause food sensitivities…corn in the US, gluten in Australia. A wise person once told me not to trust anything that y grandmother wouldn’t recognise!

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