Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Revenge of the Vegans: new synthetic meat, egg firms, backed by software tycoons, poised to wreck ranchers

New-generation fake meat and chicken products are no joke; they are instead a cattleman's worst nightmare. When — not if — they catch on, they will be devastatingly disruptive to the $177 billion meat industry. The new products have no cholesterol, no soy(!), no hormones, no antibiotics, no transfats and can be made cheaper than chickens or cows can be raised.
     Taste? In the last year, they have become good enough to fool Today Show hosts in blind tests on live TV, foodies from the New York Times and the Food Network and, perhaps most importantly, Bill Gates, who promptly put his money where his mouth is in backing not one, not two, not three but four of the new enterprises..
     Silicon Valley smart money is flooding these startups. Gates has been firstest with the mostest, with investments in (1) Hampton Creek (fake eggs) along with Yahoo's cofounder Jerry Yang, (2) Beyond Meat, with billionaire Twitter cofounders Biz Stone, a vegan, and Evan Williams, who grew up on a Clarks, Nebraska farm and later coined the word "blogger," (3) Nu-Tek, a low-salt salt company, and (4) Impossible Foods, the brainchild of Stanford University biochemist Patrick Brown, who has showcased a raw “ground beef” containing bioengineered “plant blood” designed to approximate hemoglobin, which helps his patties turn brown and savory as they cook. Brown says livestock is an "outdated technology."
     [Beyond Meat's] Veggie Chicken Strips have already proved wildly popular, so much in fact that one San Francisco Whole Foods reportedly went through its entire inventory in just two days.
     In 2014, Beyond Meat's presence in supermarkets exploded from 1,500 locations to 6,000.
     A coming switch to manufactured meat will have huge implications on the amount of CO2 released into the earth's atmosphere. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that the world's 22 billion livestock animals and crops raised to feed them and forests leveled to support them pour three times as much CO2 into the atmosphere as cars and trucks do.
     Rowan Jacobsen, of Outside magazine, has seen the writing on the wall:
Considering the speed of change, the money and smarts being thrown at the problem, and the desperate need, it seems likely that sometime in the next decade, Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods or another rival will perfect vegetarian beef, chicken, and pork that is tastier, healthier, and cheaper than the fast-food versions of the real thing. It will be a textbook case of disruptive technology: overnight, meat will become the coal of 2025—dirty, uncompetitive, outcast.
Jacobsen was one of the first to eat a Beyond Meat Beastburger and pronounced it "very meat-like:"
And it was vegan. “More protein than beef,” Brown told me when I rang him up after tasting it. “More omegas than salmon. More calcium than milk. More antioxidants than blueberries. Plus muscle-recovery aids. It’s the ultimate performance burger.”
A miserably cruel sow confinement facility, ideal for the
rampant spread of disease then mitigated by the overuse of
antibiotics, in turn contributing to MRSA and other
drug-resistant bacteria
     As "animal agriculture" erects an iron curtain to hide its revolting cruelty and even sexual abuse of animals (via Ag-Gag laws which actually put whistleblowers behind bars) vegetarian competition is doing an end run around the torture chambers of factory farms, their trade group PR duplicity, and their statutory attacks on freedom of the press.
     Ironically, Vegan businessmen, backed by software billionaires, may succeed in financially bankrupting factory farms faster than PETA or the Humane Society or Mercy for Animals are able to expose the moral bankruptcy of their owners to most grocery buyers.

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