Here’s the table of contents:
Part 1 – Why Protein & Animal Products Matter for Fitness & Health
1:51 Protein & fitness
3:30 Protein & health
5:03 Amino-acid profile difference between animal protein and plant protein
6:34 Digestibility difference between animal protein and plant protein
7:34 Meat’s role in human evolution
9:41 Health risks associated with meat consumption
Part 2 – The Costs of High Meat Consumption
11:09 Short recap of part 1
11:58 The problems with our diet being the example for lifestyle and health
15:15 The environmental impacts of meat production
17:57 We need a different motivation
Part 3 – We Are the Example
19:40 How our behavior shapes the world
22:28 The future based on our current course of action
Part 4 – Creating a Better Food System
24:09 The benefits of veganism
26:16 The limitations of global veganism
28:26 Why people refuse veganism
32:43 Getting people to switch to a plant based diet (the right way)
35:42 Is cultured meat the answer?
39:22 My opinion
Part 5 – What We Can do to Promote a Lower Consumption of Meat
40:47 Why companies don’t care about the environment
41:49 The benefits of a carbon tax
43:38 What I think we should do
Part 6 – How to Get Proper Nutrition While Eating Less Meat
45:00 How much meat can we eat per week?
45:20 Free Meal Plans
45:43 Supplement recommendations for a low meat diet
47:00 Recommended resources & Further reading
Main Source of Information:
Should We Eat Meat by Vaclav Smil
Is it alright to eat large amounts of meat? This is an important question because most of us “fitness people” eat about 150g of protein per day. A large part of that comes from meat – chicken, pork, and beef. Should we eat so much meat?
On one side you’ve got vegan activists that say eating animals is completely unacceptable – almost the same as eating humans. On the other side you’ve got those that eat so much red meat they think fish is practically a vegetable.
I started making this video with the goal of showing a simple way to hit your macros while eating less meat. I’ve been eating less protein and less meat for about 6 months and I did not notice any difference. I’ve kept making strength and muscle gains just like before.
But as I studied the subject of worldwide meat production, I realized it’s one of the most important topics for the future of our planet. And I also realized how misinformed we all are regarding the effects of our diet. So that short video that I planned actually turned into this small documentary. I’m going to share all the facts I’ve learned so you can decide for yourself how you want to eat from now on.
Why protein is important for having a great physique
Protein and muscle growth are almost synonymous in most people’s minds. A high protein diet helps you build more muscle and lose more fat than a low protein diet.
Research shows that muscle growth is maximized when you eat about 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight or 2.2 grams per kilogram per day. You can gain muscle eating less than that, it’s not like an on-off switch. But around one gram per pound ensures maximal protein synthesis and the best rate of gain in the long term.
A high protein intake is also helpful while cutting to ensure you maintain muscle mass and lose only fat.
If you want to get shredded, 1 to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of fat free mass or 2.3-3.1g per kg is the recommended daily intake. Research by Eric Helms and colleagues suggests that lean athletes in a calorie deficit should increase their protein intake along with their level of leanness and how aggressively they cut. Basically, the leaner you get, the more a higher protein intake helps you retain muscle mass. In addition to that, a high-protein diet is easier to stick to when in a calorie deficit because protein is the most satiating macronutrient. That makes the diet less stressful, it prevents binge eating, and improves your results.
These are facts. Without a doubt a high protein diet is great for our fitness goal. But is it ok for health as well? Does our body actually benefit from a high intake of protein? Yes.
Why protein is important for health
The Institute of Medicine says that protein should comprise 10 to 35% of our daily calories. Almost everything in our body is made out of protein and an adequate intake is essential for growth and repair.
Something you may not know is that the lack of quality protein in people’s diets is one of the main causes of malnutrition in third world countries.
Poor populations often get to eat only a small amount of protein every day. And that amount usually comes from low quality sources such as cereals, roots, and legumes. As a result, they don’t get adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. That negatively affects both their health and intelligence.
Take a look at this picture:
The white line on the wall shows the average height of 9-year-olds worldwide. These kids from Tanzania are all below that line because they are suffering from a condition known as stunting. They are not starving, but they are not getting enough to eat which restricts their normal development.
Stunting not only affects a child’s height, it also has an impact on brain development. Stunted children have a lower IQ than children who get proper nutrition. Because of that, they are more likely to fall behind at school, miss key milestones in reading and math, and go on to live in poverty because they cannot compete with smarter people.
In those cases adding some more quality protein to their diet (and more food in general) can help children fully develop mentally and physically. Eating more protein can actually help them be more successful in life!
Not all protein sources are equal. Animal proteins have higher quality than plant proteins.
Your body requires twenty-one amino acids to build and repair itself.
It can produce twelve but must get the remaining nine from the food we eat. These are known as the “essential” amino acids, and you can see them listed here:
In everyday diets, proteins with adequate shares of all essential amino acids are available only in foods of animal origin. To get the same intakes of all essential amino acids from plants you have to consume more total protein in your diets and combine two or more protein sources to get a complete amino acid profile.
You can think of it like this. While meat, eggs, and dairy come with a complete amino acid profile, plant protein sources have high and low amounts of certain amino acids. To get a complete profile, you have to combine two or more sources that complement each other. For example, grains are low in the amino-acid lysine but high in methionine while beans are high in lysine but low in methionine. Put the two of them together and you have an amino acid profile that is considered complete.
If a group of people from a third world country only eat a single plant protein source, they will be deficient in certain essential amino acids. That negatively affects the functioning of their body and brain.
However, in addition to their superior amino acid profile, animal proteins are also more easily absorbed and used by our body. The digestibility ratio for eggs, dairy, meat, and fish are all above 94%. Meaning if you eat 100g of protein from animal products, your body will absorb and use at least 94g of it.
In comparison, digestibility for whole wheat, corn and oatmeal are less than 86% and for beans less than 80%. This is important because it means you have to eat more total protein from plant sources to receive the same amount of essential amino acids you would get from eating animal protein.
For example infants need to consume 40–70% more protein in a plant-based diet than they would have to eat in a mixed diet containing some dairy products, meat or fish. In the first months of life, their body and brain development depends on the availability of essential amino acids. If they cannot get enough, their development is restricted. And you can imagine it’s more difficult to feed an infant enough plant protein sources to achieve the right intake of essential amino acids.
Actually, the superior amino acid profile and superior digestibility of animal proteins is suspected to have played a key role in our evolution. There is this hypothesis called “the expensive-tissue hypothesis” formulated by Aiello and Wheeler in 1995. These researchers argued that a higher quality diet including meat and eggs, was one of the key factors that allowed the growth of our brain.
The human gut is very similar to that of primates with one notable exception: while all apes have more than 45% of their gut in the colon and only 14–29% in the small intestine, the proportions are reversed in humans. We have more than 56% in the small intestine and only 17–25% in the colon. This clearly indicates that humans have adapted to high-quality, energy-dense foods that can be digested in the small intestine. That means a diet containing some meat, including fat and the nutrient-rich internal organs of animals.
The reduced size and therefore reduced energy use of our gut allowed more energy to be directed to the brain. This explains how humans can have such large brains compared to their body size and metabolic rate.
Our ancestors ate meat and not only that but they viewed meat as the most desirable form of food. Meat sharing has always been a celebrated occasion and this tradition is still present in today’s society. Sharing the turkey on Thanksgiving in North America or sharing the meat of a slaughtered pig with your neighbors in Eastern Europe are just two examples.
Also, the rising consumption of meat was one of the major contributors to the improved health of rapidly urbanizing populations in the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to that it lead to enhanced growth and increased adult weight.
Now you’ll say: What? Eating meat lead to improved health? Are you kidding me? Meat consumption has been associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer!
That is true, but not lean, high quality meat like chicken breast or lean beef. The risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer is associated with the consumption of saturated fat from meat products not the meat itself. Stuff like sausages, bacon, hot dogs, fast-food meat, fatty burgers, and salami really do elevate the risk of heart disease and cancer. People that chose those foods are also more likely to be sedentary, to eat less fruits and vegetables, more grains and oils, and to be smokers.
Lean meat consumption in a diet containing adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables has not been associated with a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.
Meat is great. Why not eat a lot of it?
So far we’ve concluded four things:
- A high protein intake is great for building muscle and losing fat
- A high-ish protein diet is beneficial for health
- Animal proteins are of superior quality than plant protein sources
- Eating meat is healthy as long as it’s lean and part of a balanced diet
And with that said, I’m going to suggest that we should all eat much LESS meat every day.
Here’s the thing. We fitness people pride ourselves with setting the example for lifestyle and health. We share messages like “What’s your excuse?” or “Get the body of your dreams”. We say we want everyone to achieve their goal physique and they can do it if they eat and train just like us.
And it’s true. If everybody counted macros, maintained a low body fat, ate more protein, and exercised more, people would be much healthier and they would feel much better about themselves. All cause mortality would go down significantly and people’s success in life would increase.
But there’s a problem. The average fitness person eats more than 100g of protein per day, often times more than 150g per day. They get most of that protein from animals sources like whey protein, chicken, beef, pork, dairy, and eggs. Those protein sources are tastier, easier to fit in their macros, and they are of higher quality than plant protein sources.
But the sad truth is that if every person on Earth had this type of diet, we would need two planets to feed everybody. So when we say that everyone can eat like we do, we’re actually full of shit. We can eat like we do because hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America eat roots and leaves.
Here are some statistics:
The average person in North America and Western Europe consumes more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of meat per year. This is carcass weight – the animal including bones, cartilages and other inedible parts but excluding the blood, legs, tail, and organs. As a comparison, the average Indian consumes less than 10kg (22 lbs) per year and the average African consumes less than 20 kg (44 lbs) per year.
We fitness people definitely eat more meat than the average person in our countries. For example, in Romania where I live, the average person consumes 65kg (144 lbs) per year. But in the year 2015 I was eating about 300g per day. That would mean 110 kg (244 pounds) per year – and also not counting the bones and skin. There were no surveys that looked into this but I would guess we consume at least 30% more than the average person in our countries.
Not only that but we eat only the best parts of the animal – chicken breast, lean steak, pork tenderloin, salmon, tuna. Sometimes we refuse stuff like chicken thighs because it’s inconvenient to fit into our macros. You know…chicken thighs have bones and skin. Ain’t nobody got time to subtract the weight of the bone and skin and only then to input the quantity of meat into our calorie counting app. Besides, eating chicken thighs leaves a mess on our plate and we don’t want that either.
Here’s the problem.
At the moment, about 30% of the planet’s ice-free surface is used for growing animals and their feed. Basically, wherever you see an open field, that land is probably used for grazing cattle.
About 35% of all arable land on Earth is planted to produce animal feed. The world now harvests far more crops to feed animals that to feed humans.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is almost as high as the entire transportation sector. So the carbon associated with fertilizer production, land clearance, methane emissions and vehicle use on farms is almost as high as the one produced by cars, airplanes, trucks, boats and other forms of transportation.
We fitness people probably have a bigger carbon footprint than any other demographic simply because we eat meat in almost every meal.
Imagine if everyone on Earth started eating as much meat as you and I – the average gym goer. We couldn’t do it. The planet is not big enough.
In 2010, the global consumption of meat was about 290 million tons. If everybody started eating meat like us, we would need to produce at least double that amount. But using the same methods as today, we can’t do that. You can’t have 60% of the planet’s ice free surface used for animals and 75% of all arable land used to grow feed crops.
Or maybe we could produce enough meat for everybody using the current methods but that would mean destroying the environment several times faster than we already are. Companies struggle to produce enough meat even with the current increasing demand. For example, in Brazil and Sub Saharan Africa thousands of hectares of rainforests are cleared every year to create more grazing land for cattle.
More animals means an increased demand for concentrate feed as well. To boost corn and soy production – the primary feed concentrate for cattle, pigs, and chickens – companies use large amounts of fertilizers on the cultivated land. Over time that soil gets degraded because it loses nitrogen and metals build up in its composition.
Sometimes the nutrients leak into waters and lead to a phenomenon called eutrophication. The water turns green because algae multiply rapidly in that area. They use all the oxygen and kill all animals and plants in that area creating dead zones.
Now, how many times have you heard these grim statistics?
Probably tens of times. And did they affect your behavior in any way?
We know that growing animals pollutes the environment. We know animals are treated badly. We know chickens can barely move in the halls they are grown. We know animals spend their whole life standing in their own shit. Baby chicks are killed just because they’re male and can’t lay eggs. Mother pigs have to feed their piglets through cages so they don’t take too much space.
In 2010 in the US alone, nearly 100,000 cows, 300,000 pigs and 24 million chickens were killed every…day.
We know this. But does it motivate us to change our behavior? No.
When we see a burger, we choose not to think about how the animals were treated or what our choice does to the environment. We just eat it. With some fries.
I believe we need a different motivation. I believe that we need to live up to our role and truly be examples for lifestyle and health. I believe that we need to want to eat less meat and to be forced to do so by an external pressure.
We are the example. What do we want to create in the world?
If you live in a rich country you literally are the example for the rest of the world.
I was born in Romania in 1994, five years after the fall of the Communist regime. Growing up, my family didn’t even have running water or a central heating system. People didn’t have cars, there were no supermarkets, and almost no restaurants. We didn’t even have good roads.
But as Romania got richer and richer in an open economy, the average person had more disposable income. We could now afford a better lifestyle. And guess who we looked up to to see what that better lifestyle looked like? The US, England, Germany, Italy – the rich countries.
And sure enough in just 20 years Romania became very similar to the Western world. We have shopping malls, restaurants, smartphones, cars, airports, designer clothes, nice homes, AND we eat more meat.
As poor countries develop, they copy the model set forth by richer countries. They see what you do. And they want your lifestyle. They look up to you.
As developing countries get richer, their meat consumption always goes up. For example, in 1978 the average Chinese was eating less than 12kg (26 lbs) of meat per year. As the country started to get richer, people started consuming more meat and in 2009 the average person was eating 55kg (122 lbs) per year.
The same pattern could be observed in Brazil. Before 1950, the average person was eating less than 20 kg (44 pounds) per year but now they are up to 80kg (177 pounds) per year.
Check this out. It’s a list of countries by meat consumption. You can see their averages per person in 2002 and in 2009. What you’ll notice is that the meat consumption of poor countries is going up and the consumption of rich countries either stays the same or goes down a bit. As I was saying about Romania, we’ve seen a 10kg (22 pounds) increase in just 7 years. But in countries such as Belgium it has gone down by 10 kg.
What’s concerning is this: countries like Nigeria, Indonesia, and India who together have more than 1.7 billion people currently consume less than 10 kg (22 lbs) per person per year. That will definitely increase in the future once people start to have higher disposable incomes.
Imagine if 1.7 billion people consumed meat like Americans. And at the same time, they adopted the American lifestyle and bought a personal car, computer, smartphone, better furniture, designer clothes, air conditioning, heating systems, as so on.
Materialism as we know it today has not even started in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. As long as the United States and the European Union are the example for these developing countries, they will consume more and more as their economies improve.
The planet cannot provide enough resources for everyone to consume like we do. Even if it could, such an increase in consumption would increase humanity’s carbon footprint significantly and we would experience accelerated global warming.
The FAO predicts that by 2050 the global demand for meat will double.
But we have the power to change this. If we change our behavior, we show those populous developing countries a better example to follow. If we create a sustainable energy and food system for us, they will adopt that system right from the start instead of replicating our old systems.
For example some less developed nation never had landline phones because the mobile phone technology was invented before they built the infrastructure. So they went straight to mobile phones and didn’t bother with landlines.
We could create something like this for the food industry. A system that can provide high quality protein for every person on the planet without the negative environmental impacts.
So, what would that system look like?
Is Veganism the answer?
Veganism offers a great solution.
If we took the corn and soy we fed to animals every year and gave it to humans instead, we would have plenty of food for everybody.
These are the conversion rates of feed to meat for different animals:
1 kg of beef = 25 kg of feed
1kg of chicken = 3.3 kg of feed
1kg pork = 9.4 kg of feed
1 kg herbivorous fish = 1.1 kg of feed
*please note these are the conversion rates of feed into meat not live weight.
Obviously, the feed will always have a higher calorie and protein content than the resulted meat. For example, to produce a 4 lb or 1.8 kg chicken, you have to feed it around 11.000 kcal and 750g of protein. But the meat and fat you get from that chicken contain only around 4000 kcal and 450g of protein.
And keep in mind that chickens convert feed to meat much better than pigs and cows.
And a really scary fact is this: To maximize profits, companies grow animals to their slaughter weight as fast as possible, for example chickens reach slaughter weight after just 42 days. So cattle, pigs, and chickens are fed an ideal ratio of macronutrients. We feed the animals we eat better than we feed 880 million people.
Veganism is also the most humane way to produce food. No animals are killed or restrained.
However, I believe that veganism in its current form is not the right solution. For several reasons.
First of all, global veganism is not the most efficient way to produce food.
If everyone on Earth was vegan we would eat significantly more milled grains, canned fruits and vegetables, processed soy products, plant oils, and other foods like that. Creating these products generates a large volume of by-products and waste that make perfect animal feed.
It is estimated that worldwide we’re currently producing 300 million tons of milling residues, protein-rich oil cakes left after the extraction of oil, by-products from creating alcohol, leaves and peels from canning fruits and vegetables, and fruit pulp left from creating fruit juice. What should we do with them?
We could throw them away and leave them to rot or we could feed them to animals to convert them into meat, milk, and eggs.
In addition to that, both grasslands and croplands produce plenty of phytomass that is not digestible by humans. Ruminants such as cattle and sheep have a unique ability to convert that phytomass into meat and milk. Humans can’t eat grass and forages therefore grass fed cows and sheep do not compete with humans for food. You can just leave them on a field to eat the grass and forages left from producing our crops, fruits, and vegetables.
If not regularly harvested, that phytomass would simply be wasted and left to decay.
Vaclav Smil estimates that about 190 million tons of meat could be produced just by feeding animals the leftovers from producing our food. That output would require no further conversions of forests to pastures, no arable land for growing feed crops, and no additional applications of fertilizers and pesticides with all the ensuing environmental problems.
In global terms, most of the environmental impacts attributable to livestock do not arise from keeping large numbers of animals or dealing with their waste but from producing their feed. This is particularly true in rich countries where most crops are grown for feed. If you take producing feed out of the equation, the environmental impacts of livestock drop significantly.
Another reason why I think veganism in its current form is not the answer is because it’s simply not cool. Most people not only refuse veganism they make fun of it. They express their opposition to veganism publicly and they are proud of it.
I think veganism right now is where the electric car was 10 years ago. Imagine two people, one has a V8 sports car – representing the meat eater and the other guy has an ugly little electric car – representing the vegan.
The guy with the V8 says: Hahaha, that’s the puniest car I’ve ever seen!
The guy with the electric car: Well, yeah…it’s not fast or sexy but you should be ashamed of yourself for driving a gas car. At least I’m saving the environment!
The guy with the V8: I’m sorry friend, real man drive a V8. You go on and take your toy back to kindergarten.
The guy with the electric car just wants to do the right thing. His car does not produce CO2. So in exchange for that he is willing to accept a car that is:
- Cannot be used for long drives
- Takes a long time to charge
- Inconvenient in general
But most people would never accept these drawbacks in a car just to save the environment. What they want is to enjoy all the benefits of the Mustang while also doing the right thing.
That’s exactly what Tesla did.
They made electric cars that are so good you WANT them even if you don’t care about the environment.
So now the guy with the electric car comes back, but this time with a Tesla. His car is now:
- Goes long distances
- Can seat 7 people
- Has two trunks
- Safest saloon car on the road
- Easy & fast to charge
- Filled with useful gadgets
Now the guy with the V8 car may even be jealous.
The right way to change a broken system is not to ask people to give up what they like in exchange for doing the right thing. They will never do it. What companies must do is keep what customers like in a product or service and indirectly make them do the right thing. The right way to change a broken system is to keep the comfort and convenience and remove the problem.
Tesla did just that. And it’s no wonder the Model 3 has half a million preorders! No car in history has ever had so many preorders. Everyone wants one. I want one too! People actually want to have an electric car more than they want a gasoline car!
As long as vegans try to convince people to join them by making them feel guilty, they will always be refused and attacked.
There are strong reasons people eat animal products:
- They are tasty
- Their consumption is linked to all major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter
- They are very nutritious
- It’s convenient (all your friends eat meat and you don’t want to be that guy that brings his own food to a party)
People don’t want to give up on these.
But what if you could make vegan products that keep all these things people like? What if you could make vegan products cool? What if you could make products that are so good, meat eaters actually WANT to consume them? Just like a petrolhead would buy a Tesla because he likes it?
There are some companies that do just that. One of them is called Beyond Meat and I think what these guys are doing is incredible.
Instead of following the classic model of trying to sell tofu or soy as meat replacements, they look at what makes meat meat at the molecular level and try to replicate that using plants.
If you think about what meat is you realize it’s a combination of amino-acids, lipids, carbs, minerals, and water – none of which are unique to animals.
If you can use amino-acids, lipids, carbs, minerals, and water from plants and rearrange them in the form of meat – the result has the same texture, taste, and behaves just like meat.
So far the company has four products – two burgers, chicken strips, and ground beef – all of them made entirely out of plants. What they use as protein source is pea protein – that’s a good choice since it’s high in BCAAs and high in the majority of the rest of the essential amino acids. It’s one of the highest quality plant protein sources. Apparently, their chicken strips are so similar to real chicken, you can’t tell the difference.
But what I like most about this company is that they are trying to make their products better than real meat. That’s what Tesla did with cars. They did not strive to make an electric car as good as a gas car. They made an electric car that is better than a gas car in most categories.
Beyond Meat says their burgers have more protein than real burgers, fewer calories, and less saturated fat – making them healthier than real burgers. In May 2016 when they launched that burger in supermarkets, it sold out within an hour. Not only that but their burger was sold in the meat section of the grocery store right next to real beef and pork.
This shows that most people are not against veganism. They just don’t want to lose all the benefits of eating meat. Just like people don’t want to give up personal cars to save the environment.
At the moment Beyond Meat is capable of producing approximately 3000 tons of chicken substitute per year. The global meat consumption in 2010 was 290.000.000 tons. That is believed to double by the year 2050.
For meat substitutes to actually compete with real meat, we need at least 100.000 more companies like Beyond Meat by 2050.
A technology that may also help bridge the gap between fake meat products and real meat is cultured meat. By 2050 a part of the global meat consumption may very well be meat grown in the lab.
Scientists have found that it’s possible to grow muscle cells in vitro and produce real meat without killing animals. In 2013, the first lab grown beef burger was eaten in London and the food critics said it tasted ok. They could tell it was real meat and not a plant product.
Growing meat works like this:
- A piece of muscle tissue is harvested from an animal in a harmless procedure. You can choose any animal you want from a cow to a crocodile.
- Then a few of those muscle cells are put into a liquid that provides the oxygen and nutrients needed for them to grow and divide. The liquid and cells are kept in a bioreactor.
- Muscle cells naturally form structures called myotubes. These tubes are placed around a gel cylinder and they bind together to create muscle fibers. They actually contract just like real muscle fibers.
- 7-8 weeks later a piece of muscle tissue about 1 millimeter wide will be found around the gel cylinder.
- If you take 10-20 thousand of these small pieces of muscle tissue and combine them together, you get a hamburger.
At the moment the technology is very inefficient. The first burger produced in 2013 had a cost of $300.000. Vegans and animal activists also disapprove of the process because the liquid the cells are grown into is of animal origin – fetal bovine serum.
But scientists say they should be able to use algae and cyanobacteria to produce the ingredients necessary for growing muscle cells. If they find a way to do that, they can significantly reduce the cost of production and make it available to consumers.
They also say that producing cultured meat would have a significantly lower environmental impact that growing livestock. While the technology requires more energy (to keep the bioreactors running 24/7) greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water use would be much lower.
Professor Mark Post (the scientists that created that burger tasted in 2013) believes that in the near future you should be able to grow meat in your kitchen. You could order a cell culture from the internet, put it into your own bioreactor and in 7-8 weeks you’d have burger.
He also envisions each neighborhood having a pig, cow, and chicken that live happily in a park and feed the entire community. Each month the animals would be poked to get a small piece of muscle from which the entire neighborhood could create meat.
In the next few years we may see cultured meat in supermarkets. A company called Memphis Meats located in Silicon Valley can now produce a pound of chicken meat for a cost of $9000. It’s still incredibly expensive but in just four years the cost went down from $300.000 to $9000. Maybe in the near future they can produce meat at the same price as meat that comes from livestock.
Cultured meat is another way to keep the pleasure and convenience of eating meat and at the same time eliminate the negative aspects: environmental damage and animal cruelty.
And the best part is that cultured meat has the potential of being better than normal meat. Scientists can engineer the meat to contain less saturated fat and more omega 3 fatty acids, making it healthier for consumers. The cell-cultured process may also decrease exposure of the meat to bacteria and disease.
The big problem with cultured meat though, is the incredibly high costs of constructing the labs and bioreactors necessary to produce the meat. And even with a great infrastructure in place, we would only be able to produce low quantities of meat.
So, I do think that eating a mostly plant based diet is the right example for developed countries to show to the world. However, I think that the current forms of veganism are not the answer.
For meat eaters to switch to a mostly plant-based diet, they should not feel like they are giving up taste and convenience. People will not give up their personal preferences in order to do the right thing.
But if companies like Beyond Meat can provide products that are just as good or even better than real meat, people will not only accept to make the switch, they will want to do it.
Also, keeping some meat in most people’s diet is probably a good thing. As noted earlier, 190 million tons of meat could be produced just by feeding animals leftovers from the food industry and phytomass from grasslands that would otherwise be wasted. Not only that but the animals would not have to be confined in small places, forced to reproduce, or treated inhumanely. They could have just one bad day in their life, the day they are slaughtered.
If the world population in 2050 is going to be 9 billion, that means every person could eat about 21 kilograms (46 lbs) of meat per year. That’s pretty good.
But what can we do to support such a transition?
What we can do
There is something that we must understand: the vast majority of companies always follow what’s more profitable for them. You can’t expect a company to do what’s right if that means less money in their pocket.
At the moment, destroying the environment is the most profitable way to do business. Why? Because there is no tax on carbon.
When we buy a product, we don’t pay the real price.
For example, when we buy some palm oil or another product that contains palm oil, we pay just for the manufacturing, packaging, and delivery of that product. We don’t pay for the rainforest that has been destroyed to plant palm trees and we don’t pay for the carbon released in the atmosphere by the vehicles and factories that contributed to the production and delivery of the product.
It’s the same for meat. We pay for the feed the animals ate, for the employees that slaughtered the animals, for the processing, and the delivery of meat. But we do not pay for the carbon produced by the animal’s manure, for the forests that were cut down to create pastures, or for the carbon produced by the vehicles involved in growing crops or delivering the meat to us.
If we had a tax on carbon, everything would suddenly be more expensive. We would pay the real price of the products and services we use.
Animal agriculture produces 15% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. That is almost as high as the entire transportation sector – cars, planes, trains, and boats.
If a carbon tax would be implemented by governments, the price of meat would go up significantly. And with higher prices, the consumption would go down. The increased consumption of meat and food in general is correlated with higher incomes. For example in the US food expenditures took more than 40% of an average household’s disposable income in 1900; by 1950, the share was about 21%; in 2010, it was just 9.4%. If the price of meat was higher, consumption would go down.
So one of the most important things you can do is support politicians in favor of a carbon tax. Because if such a tax was implemented, the most profitable way to conduct business for certain companies may no longer be destroying the environment – but using sustainable forms of energy and production.
Imagine a world in which it’s more profitable for a company to be green than to pollute. Everyone would go green. Not because people care, but because they want more money.
If the price of meat increases significantly and other protein products or fake meat products stay the same, people will naturally consume more of them. Again, not because they care, but because they want to spend less money.
We as the consumers have the power to influence what companies do. If we keep demanding more meat, that’s what they will give us. But with the current methods of meat production we cannot afford to have everybody on Earth eat as much meat as we do.
So in order to be a good example to developing nations, an example to people who look to us as fitness role models, and to promote the transition to a sustainable future I believe we should eat less meat for now.
- Eat less meat to discourage companies from producing more.
- Support the implementation of a carbon tax to force meat producers to reduce environmental damage.
- Consume meat alternatives such as fake meat products to show there is a growing demand for them. If companies see there’s money to be made from meat alternatives, rest assured, they will start providing that to us.
- Get a larger share of our daily protein for plant sources such as legumes, cereals, nuts and seeds, and vegetables. We need to make a predominantly plant-based diet something considered normal.
Also, I would encourage you to do something extra. Tax yourself until a carbon tax is implemented. I personally pay 10% of my monthly salary at ThinkEatLift as carbon tax. That offsets all of my carbon footprint.
I would encourage you to do the same. Go to carbontax.org and set up a monthly donation of 5-10% of your income. We need to behave now as we would like the rest of the world to behave in 10-20 years. Because remember, developing countries will follow our example.
And now, finally I will show you how you can eat less meat without compromising convenience, your health, or your fitness results.
How to hit your protein intake eating less meat
In a previous section we said that a sustainable production of meat is about 190 million tons per year. For a population of 9 billion in 2050, that would mean about 21 kilograms of meat for every person on Earth. There are 52 weeks in a year so a sustainable weekly consumption per person is about 400g (or almost a pound).
Now, besides being a high quality protein source, meat provides many key micronutrients that are hard to get from plants: vitamin B12, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and essential fatty acids. With a reduced meat intake, you probably no longer get adequate amounts of these micronutrients so you’ll have to supplement some of them.
If you lower your meat intake, add a high quality multi-vitamin to your diet.
The best multivitamin I know is Triumph from Legion. This product is just in a league of it’s own. If you look at the nutritional facts you see that they covered everything and this product alone will ensure you’re not deficient in any key vitamins and minerals.
Another good choice is Raw One from a company called Garden of Life. It’s not as good as Triumph but you don’t have to take as many pills per day.
Thanks for reading / watching until the end!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and family. This information should reach as many people as possible because our future depends on how all of us act today. I appreciate your contribution 🙂