from the can-i-have-ketchup-with-that dept.
"A meat-eater with a bicycle is much more environmentally unfriendly than a vegetarian with a Hummer."
--Dr Mark Post
The world's largest food concern, Unilever, has opened a new research lab at the world's most prestigious agricultural university, the University of Wageningen (the Netherlands). Unilever will locate all elements of its foods R&D there. A spokeswoman on Dutch radio stressed plant-based meat alternatives as an important research subject.
Wageningen University has strong credentials in that respect, with the development of shear cell technology.
Shear cell technology strings plant proteins together in tightly controlled fibers, resulting in a meat substitute where texture (fibrousness, bite, mouthfeel) can easily be controlled, and changed at will. This, combined with 3D food printing, offers the possibility of creating multiple meat (substitute) variations in future.
Unilever's food campus is open to startups, innovators and partners. One of the first to have build its own lab on the same grounds is Symrise, an industrial flavours and scents group.
About half of Dutch people call themselves 'flexitarians'. This means that they don't eat meat with their main meal at least three times a week. The proportion of vegetarians is stable, at just under five percent of the Dutch population.
Wageningen researchers believe, however, that feeding 9 billion people with animal meat will not be sustainable for the planet.
Plant-based meat products are bigger than ever, with the fast-food industry, grocery stores, and upscale restaurants coming on board. A recent Nielsen report found that plant-based meat alternative purchases went up 279.8 percent last week after Americans were instructed to stay home during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Impossible Foods, a company that develops plant-based meat products, says its mission is to someday replace the incumbent meat industry entirely, stating that, from a mission standpoint, a sale only has value if it comes at the expense of the sale of an animal-derived product.
But what if plant-based meat wasn't just a substitute for an already-existing marketplace, and instead, it started to make meat that has never existed?
On this week's Vergecast podcast, Impossible Foods CEO Patrick Brown talks to Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel about how this impossible meat could be a possibility in the future, even if it doesn't make sense for the company right now.
Related: 'Soylent' Dawkins? Atheist Mulls 'Taboo Against Cannibalism' Ending as Lab-Grown Meat Improves
Meatless "Beyond Burgers" Come to Fast Food Restaurants
Swedish Behavioral Scientist Suggests Eating Humans to 'Save the Planet'
Discriminating Diets Of Meat-Eating Dinosaurs
Meat Industry PR Campaign Bashes Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
Unilever Pushing for Plant-Based Meat
Judge Serves Up Sizzling Rebuke of Arkansas' Anti-Veggie-Meat Labeling Law