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posted by janrinok on Friday December 06 2019, @03:12PM   Printer-friendly
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.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by canopic jug on Friday December 06 2019, @04:43PM (15 children)

    by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 06 2019, @04:43PM (#928918) Journal

    I tried to find some concrete information on e.g. energy usage of meat versus veggie stuff and couldn't find much. Is there any good information out there?

    Not really. There is plenty of disinformation though. One of the biggest fallacies, one which Mark Post falls for and promotes, and common on the left in general, is that the meat and the petrochemicals are in the same carbon cycle. The petrochemicals have been out of the loop for aeons. Bringing even a single gram out of the ground and into the atmosphere is harmful. So the assertion that "A meat-eater with a bicycle is much more environmentally unfriendly than a vegetarian with a Hummer", is 100% bullshit. So are all the vegans that fly often whether for work or vacation because they are adding carbon back into the system, rather than just moving it around like meat eaters. Work flights are probably the easiest to cut back on and even a small reduction will have a large positive impact.

    However, food is not carbon neutral. Not counting the petrochemical based fertilizers and pesticides, the inability to get locally sourced food any more means that even the food networks, from farm to table, are maintained by releasing fossil carbon into the atmosphere. Also, some countries are infamous for lack of passenger rail and other viable options. Many countries which are still good have sadly cut back. Others are going forward, but we all have to go forward to make a solution to the crisis.

    --
    Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
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  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @04:55PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @04:55PM (#928929)

    > "Bringing even a single gram out of the ground and into the atmosphere is harmful"

    It's not harmful, it is natural. Beavers do it all the time: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/climate/arctic-beavers-alaska.html [nytimes.com]

    • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Friday December 06 2019, @05:40PM (5 children)

      by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 06 2019, @05:40PM (#928965) Journal

      “When you start flooding areas with permafrost you immediately trigger permafrost degradation,” said Ken Tape, an assistant professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks who has researched the beavers. “You start thawing the frozen ground that’s holding the soil together, and that water and soil and other things are washed away.”

      What remains is a pitted landscape, with boggy depressions, that directs warmer water onto the permafrost, leading to further thawing. As permafrost thaws it releases carbon dioxide and methane, which in turn contributes to global warming and helps increase the speed that the Arctic, which is already warming faster than the rest of the planet, defrosts. Worldwide, permafrost is estimated to contain twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere.

      Beavers Emerge as Agents of Arctic Destruction [nytimes.com]

      Beavers are just speeding up the carbon release, not causing it. They're following the treeline as it moves north or up. Even if there weren't beavers, the effect they are worsening would make the permafrost melt anyway, just a bit more slowly.

      --
      Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @05:47PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @05:47PM (#928971)

        >"Beavers are just speeding up the carbon release, not causing it."

        No, without the beavers the dams would not be built, the water would not accumulate, and the permafrost would remain frozen.

        • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Friday December 06 2019, @06:38PM (3 children)

          by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 06 2019, @06:38PM (#929011) Journal

          Re-read it. The treeline is moving as the permafrost disappears. The beavers are just following that and speeding up the melting along some of the edges.

          --
          Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @06:50PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @06:50PM (#929027)

            You quoted it yourself, the beavers are directing warm water into the permafrost, which melts it and releases hydrocarbons. As a result, the get a more pleasant home.

            • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Friday December 06 2019, @06:56PM (1 child)

              by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 06 2019, @06:56PM (#929031) Journal

              The beavers are sending water short distances not 100s of kilometers. The permafrost they are melting is just melting a little sooner from their activities than it would without them. However, don't pretend that it would not melt without their activities.

              --
              Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @07:25PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @07:25PM (#929061)

                An "agent of arctic destruction" is not causing the destruction?

                So if a nuclear bomb is dropped on a city, it is not the bomb that destroyed it. It isn't the plane that dropped it, the pilot flying the plane, the general who gave the order, the first monkey to climb out of a tree and stand upright, etc.

                Those are all just agents, the cause is something else.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @06:49PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @06:49PM (#929026)

    You're totally ignoring that meat needs feed which is plant based, grasses and occasionally grains. They're shipped out, beef steers to feedlots specifically, where they're fed copious amounts of grain including corn and soy both of which must be moved by some means (train, then tractor trailer/dumptruck). Then they're sent to slaughter which could be the feedlot or it could be 100 miles away. Then their processed bodies are shipped the world over. They will require freezing and refrigeration from here on out, using electricity that is probably generated with fossil fuels.

    This as opposed to fertilizer shipment, pesticide shipment, and then watering for a crop season. Then shipping. I'd posit you're cutting out one or two shipment cycles, and a 70% conversion loss. Shelf life on a lot of plant products supersedes animal proteins. A good deal of staples like onions, potatoes, many fruits can all be held at room temp. There's also nuts which have a very long room temp shelf life. I can't speak for dehydration, but considering the cost of jerky meat is much more difficult to process compared to fruits, which also lends itself to plant based shelf life efficiency arguments.

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday December 06 2019, @07:29PM (1 child)

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 06 2019, @07:29PM (#929066) Journal

      I think the problem with jerky is tradition. That's also why it's high in salt. It could probably be vacuum dried at just above freezing to jerky dry and then pressure cooked with hot dry air and then sealed. I think this would keep as well as jerky does as long as the seal was kept. But it's not traditional, it would take preparation to taste better than jerky, and there's not already a market for it. You might check hiking supplies, as it might already be available, but high in cost because it's only for a specialty market.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @08:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06 2019, @08:01PM (#929089)

        People who eat higher salt diets have lower blood pressure:

        In Framingham, people with higher combined intakes of sodium (3,717 milligrams per day on average) and potassium (3,211 milligrams per day on average on average) had the lowest blood pressure.

        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170425124909.htm [sciencedaily.com]

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday December 06 2019, @11:45PM (2 children)

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday December 06 2019, @11:45PM (#929191) Journal

      You assume that cattle require feed to be trucked in from other places. In the West, cows eat grass on the plains.

      Second, you assume that veg transported from farm to market require no refrigeration or treatment. You are wrong. They require inspection and climate control.

      Then when it comes time to transport a ton of beef to market, vs. a ton of, say, cucumbers, the fossil fuel cost is the same.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Saturday December 07 2019, @03:43AM (1 child)

        by Reziac (2489) on Saturday December 07 2019, @03:43AM (#929279) Homepage

        "Then when it comes time to transport a ton of beef to market, vs. a ton of, say, cucumbers, the fossil fuel cost is the same."

        However, the per-unit cost to truck veggies is a lot higher if you count not gross tons, but protein and calories. Counted that way, only wheat and corn come anywhere close to the per-ton nutritional density of meat.

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday December 07 2019, @01:22PM

          by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday December 07 2019, @01:22PM (#929378) Journal

          That's a good point.

          --
          Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday December 07 2019, @12:20AM (1 child)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 07 2019, @12:20AM (#929204) Journal

    Bringing even a single gram out of the ground and into the atmosphere is harmful.

    Nonsense. You do realize that even in the absence of humanity, coal seams are exposed, eroded, and sometimes even burn. Yet where was the harm in that (particularly, when one considers that there's a great deal of harm in too little CO2 in the atmosphere to support photosynthesis)?

    And it's not the gram of carbon going into the atmosphere that is harmful. It's the gram's estimated 10 quadrillion friends per year that are causing the harm.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07 2019, @05:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07 2019, @05:08AM (#929305)

      Don't forget shellfish. They sequester 200 megatonnes of carbon per year as limestone. Without carbon release, give it 10,000 years and the biosphere is dead.