Why meat is like a PalmPilot

I am fond of Peter Thiel’s interview question: “what is one thing you believe that most others don’t?”

One of my own answers to this question is that within the next few decades, meat as we know it will be obsolete. Most of this country will be plant based or eating meat that is grown in a lab, not from a slaughtered animal.

Welcome to my world!

I have never eaten meat or fish and am proud to be a vegetarian since birth (though I should probably start calling myself “plant based” instead. Much trendier).

Personal preference and potential health benefits aside, there are two major reasons to be vegetarian:

  1. Ethical: Globally, over 70 billion land animals are killed each year for consumption. The vast majority of these animals are bred simply for slaughter and the industry is fraught with inhumane practices. I won’t go into the gory details here else you stop reading this post out of disgust or shame 🙂
  2. Environmental: The meat industry is the primary source of methane and nitrous oxide gases, which have a more intense global warming impact than carbon dioxide. Some estimates suggest the livestock industry’s impact on global warming is equivalent to driving all the cars, planes, and trucks in the world. Meat is also the single biggest cause of deforestation, clearing out forests so we have land to cultivate huge volumes of animal feed.

As the global population grows, demand for food and meat is growing too, exacerbating these tragedies.

There is rapid growth in plant-based meat alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. These are good products and a nice start. However, they are far from adequate to make a dent in meat consumption in this country.

Hey @ElonMusk, we need you to tackle meat too.

To solve the issues above, we need meat alternatives that taste the same if not better, cost the same or cheaper, and have the same nutritional value, or better.

The answer is lab grown meat. And it is coming soon to a supermarket near you. This is meat that is cultivated in labs, grown in-vitro, and molecularly identical to livestock meat. It tastes the same. It is the same. But no animals are killed in the process and it has the potential to eliminate all of the issues raised above. Eat that!

Science fiction or reality? Somewhere in between, but sprinting towards reality. Lab grown meat and fish does exist already. But it is not yet scalable, affordable, or reliably producible. I have no idea whether the breakthroughs will be in this decade or the next one, but it is inevitable and I’m excited to see it happen. There are many talented scientists, entrepreneurs, and labs making progress on this every day. In fact, my partners Tess Hatch and David Cowan have invested in a number of companies tackling this problem.

I’m thrilled my offspring will grow up in a world where “cruel meat” is akin to a palm pilot.

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