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Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test 466

assertation (1255714) writes "Bill Gates and the founders of Twitter are betting millions that meat lovers will embrace a new plant-based product that mimics the taste of chicken and beef. Meat substitutes have had a hard time making it to the dinner tables of Americans over the years, but the tech giants believe these newest products will pass the "tastes like chicken" test. Gates has met several times with Ethan Brown, whose product, Beyond Meat, is a mash-up of proteins from peas and plants."
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Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test

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  • Americans (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:03PM (#46853937)

    This is really a regional problem (understandable in a country that has never had capacity issues raising cattle on enormous scale).

    Outside the US, many countries have been eating significant quantities of meat substitutes for ages - my favourite, even as a meat eater, being Quorn, which is genuinely rather nice tasting and doesn't have to taste 'like' meat to appeal to me (though it's not a vegan product in any sense).

    Within the US, Quorn received a seriously dubious monstering from CSPI, but even in the UK Quorn needed help to get past the 'fake meat' angle; Sainsbury's went big on it and it survived.

    Try it sometime, particularly with a splash of light soy sauce right at the beginning, which does help it taste more chickeny, if you need that.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:20PM (#46854045) Journal
    Some of the vegetarians follow vegetarian diet due to religious reasons. An extreme form of that practice is followed by the Jains, They would not even eat root vegetables because harvesting it kills the plant. But they would accept milk because milking does not kill the cow. There are others who would eat all the vegetables, but not meat. These people not only don't want to eat meat, they don't want anything that looks like meat.

    In fact I belong to one such group: south Indian lacto-vegetarian brahmin. My rational mind and my reading of scriptures tell me, it is just a cultural practice, Hinduism does not really ban meat. My reading of books in evolution and my rudimentary understanding of biology tells me Homo sapiens evolved to eat at least some meat. Our closes primate relatives bonobos and chimps both eat meat. Still my cultural training is so ingrained I would not be able to bring myself to bite a piece of chicken, or something that resembles chicken. I am sure bits and pieces of meat must have found their way into my plate by accident. Restaurant workers might not have changed gloves, or the pizza cutter might not have been wiped before cutting my pizza, or the soup might have had a chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. Even after knowing all this, I am not able to bring myself to eat meat or anything that resembles meat.

    I know we form such a microscopic minority what we think or do would not have the slightest effect on the general population and trends. But still, I have no plans to change.

  • by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:32PM (#46854105)

    I don't get the fixation people have with 'tastes like meat' (actually the texture is the tricky part, taste is rather easy). If you actually learn to cook reasonably well then meat dishes actually aren't the most fantastic things around. I find that not eating meat is pretty trivial and given the cost, health, sustainability, and ethical advantages of that choice why not do it? I have yet to meet a person who switched and didn't FEEL much better afterwards. Almost any garden variety restaurant in China can make you a dish that usually can't be distinguished from a meat dish, and if I wish I can make several of them myself. OTOH there are plenty of other ways to enjoy your vegetables more.

  • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:38PM (#46854141)

    If everyone in the world switched from eating meat to eating vegan substitutes (which is more environmentally friendly), you're going to end up with a massive animal welfare crisis on your hands. All those cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc are no longer going to be wanted by mankind.

    I think I see what you mean. But the words "animal welfare crisis" seem pretty adequate to describe the way our meat ends up on our plates right now.

    Personally I am a meat lover of the hypocrite kind: if I had to slaughter my own, I'd be a vegetarian tomorrow. So I have this sort if compromise where I only eat meat maybe two or three days a week, and then I choose the more expensive kind which is supposed to be from animals which could be argued to have had a half decent life.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:43PM (#46854169)

    You do realize that farm animals are bred and raised on... duh, farms and that this is done in response to a "market" where people demand food from these animals. Basic "market" principles apply here. If there is less demand then the farmers won't breed and raise more animals.
    So... if the market goes away there won't be a lot of homeless animals.
    Also, all of the breeding and natural and artificial selection of animals has only served to produce odd monocultures of animals and nothing would be lost. I'm sure that some people will keep some demand for these animals.
    It would be good for the environment (and the animals) for people to switch to eating fewer of them.

  • by Badger Nadgers ( 2423622 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:46PM (#46854183)

    All those cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc are no longer going to be wanted by mankind.

    But if we get rid of them, where are we going to get all the sh*t for the organic veg?

  • by Coisiche ( 2000870 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:00PM (#46854267)

    In the UK, Quorn is the main faux meat mycoprotein. I'm not a vegetarian but I have tried a few of their products and they are, without exception, all about simulating meat.

    The simulated chicken pieces are probably the most realistic; so much like the real thing in terms of appearance, texture and taste it's uncanny. The steak strips aren't as good texture wise, nor is the lamb cutlet, but both are ok taste wise although to visual inspection the lamb one is obviously artificial. The sausages are good but since the meat content of real sausages is questionable anyway, I don't think there's much comparison to draw. The biggest fail is the Quorn bacon rashers. You have to wonder why they bothered trying. Nothing can compare with real bacon and we can't help vegetarians who chose to give that up.

  • by blackpaw ( 240313 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:16PM (#46854667)

    All those cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc are no longer going to be wanted by mankind. What this means is many thousands of years worth of natural and artificial selection will be wasted, most animals domesticated for meat will die out

    I suspect there will always be a market for real meat, in the situation you describe I image real meat will move to being a delicacy and a luxury, hopefully supplied by animals farmed in a more "humane" manner.

  • Re:But the price? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:17PM (#46854681)

    Why is meat so cheap compared to vegetables when you need several times as much vegetables to feed the animals for the same abount of nutricion.
    Logic would say that vegeatians would be a financial choice. It is the same in Europe.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:20PM (#46854699)

    Because as a species we desperately need to reduce the rate at which we're drawing down the viability of the global ecosystem. We're currently consuming roughly 40% more natural resources than can be sustainably harvested, and the other 60% of the words population is undergoing rapid economic growth to the point that they can reasonably expected to be consuming at a comparable level to the west within the century - the idea of a "third world" will be an anachronism. Given that reality, and since raising their consumption to current western standards would result in global ecological collapse, we must instead figure out how to lower consumption rates in the West to the point that global equalization is sustainable.

    The problem is not as bad as it first appears though - roughly 3/4 of the food grown in the world today ends up discarded as trash due to spoilage and economic inefficiencies, so if we can eliminate the waste then we could feed 10 billion people a Western diet without increasing current food production at all. We still need to reduce our natural resource consumption by roughly 1/3 though, just to stop strip-mining the planet, even further if we want to give it a chance to recover and start becoming more productive again. Fishing should probably be (mostly) eliminated first - the oceans are our most important ecosystems for global health and have been utterly devastated by overfishing in the last century. The lumber industry is another major culprit - but the demand for wood products is falling in the face of more advanced metal, plastic, and concrete technologies, and tree farms are becoming more common.

    That leaves agriculture(plants and animals) as one of the major contributing factors. Plus there's the serious energy-intensiveness of the industry (20-3% of total current energy consumption I think) And the vast majority of plants are grown to feed animals, which yields a terrible return on investment. 10 pounds of animal feed nets you only about 1 pound of beef, 2 pounds of pork, or three pounds of chicken. The easiest way to reduce the ecological and energetic impact of farming is to give up the meat. Or to switch to more efficient meat, but that pretty much means eating insects and the Western world has some ridiculous hang-ups about that. Still, locusts will produce 9 pounds of low-fat high-quality protein from that same 10 pounds of feed, and they're perfectly happy eating the cellulose-rich leftovers from crops grown for human consumption. And I'd bet you that a McDonalds Locust-burger wouldn't taste appreciably worse than the present meat-product, while also being considerably more nutritious.

  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:10PM (#46854969)

    I'd expect the most populist countries to start banning real meat no later than 10-20 years after fake meat is introduced.

    So eat your meat while you still can.

  • Re:But the price? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:24PM (#46855063)

    Why is meat so cheap compared to vegetables when you need several times as much vegetables to feed the animals for the same abount of nutricion. Logic would say that vegeatians would be a financial choice. It is the same in Europe.

    It's a lie. We feed cattle the left over of human agriculture. Without meat production, vegetable and grains would cost even more. Also we would not have the manure needed to cultivate these delicate fruit bearing plants.

    The truth is that we need to eat both animals and plants. We also need both to support each other. The vegan peoples are retarded that see everything in black or white. Fuck 'em.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:50PM (#46855725)

    Yes, cereal grains are likewise a problem. But so is the stuff we call meat today. We evolved to eat wild game. Fatty, un-exercised, hormone-saturated domesticated meat is a *completely* different thing. Go have a few deer steaks, maybe a nice wild turkey, and then tell me that we evolved to eat the stuff they sell at the supermarket.

    In that same vein, prior to agriculture we were nomadic hunter-*gatherers*, our diet was hardly mostly meat except when we colonized marginal grassland regions where the vegetation was mostly far less nutritious to us fruit, nut, and tuber-eaters, and we survived by preying on the more specialized plant-eaters. Probably the best sense of our "natural" diet is to look to our cousins among the apes - particularly our closest relatives the chimpanzees and bonobos, though they seem to have similar diets to most of the great apes. They certainly won't pass up a juicy animal that catches their eye, but plants don't run nearly as fast, and make up the majority of their diet.

    Also, if you want to talk health, look at China, India, South America, etc. where non-impoverished individuals in their 80s or 90s are routinely in excellent health, with mental and physical vigor to make an American in their 50s jealous. What are they eating? Mostly plants. Some insects. A little higher meat here and there.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato