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Earth Biotech

Should Plant-Based Meat Replace Beef Completely? (pbs.org) 669

Long-time Slashdot reader tcd004 writes: Is beef still "what's for dinner?" Plant-based meat substitute startups say they could provide enough protein to feed the world using only 2% of the land on Earth, dramatically reducing the resources required to create beef products. And adopting plant-based burgers could help reduce heart disease, protect water resources, and stop deforestation. But Beef producers say no laboratory can beat a steer's ability to turn plant-based nutrition into tasty protein, and animals are the best source for natural fertilizer to grow crops. There's a coming war for your dinner plate. Who will prevail?
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Should Plant-Based Meat Replace Beef Completely?

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  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @09:43PM (#55802637)

    But so far there has NOT been a good substitute in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional value.

    I'd pin my hopes on vat-grown beef before a plant-based option.

    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @10:33PM (#55802843)

      But so far there has NOT been a good substitute in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional value.

      I'd pin my hopes on vat-grown beef before a plant-based option.

      Exactly. I question the ability to produce a lot of other nutrients beside just the meat proteins.

      But reading the transcript, that was a 100 percent vegan mutual masturbation session. Worse than the people that come on and bleat about how awesome it is to eat insects

    • But so far there has NOT been a good substitute in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional value.

      There is not (yet) a good substitute for beef, but fake chicken is pretty good.

    • I was given a sample of an incredibly ok faux meat at whole foods a few months back. I don't remember the name of it, because, well, I eat real meat, but it was a very decent beef imitation, and if they can bring the cost down to less than real meat I could see myself eating faux-burgers from now own. (Unfortunately it was like 1.25 times the cost of actual ground beef FROM WHOLE FOODS, which is already an inflated meat price compared to other grocers)

      • Just remembered, it was called a Beyond Burger. And according to the googles it's actually a lot more expensive than I remembered, so fuck that. $12/lb is not a good price point for competing with beef, although I think it's probably tolerable for catering to the vegans.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24, 2017 @11:29PM (#55803057)

      Replacing beef with plants will do *nothing* for the starving nations of the world, because we can already feed them three times over. Source. [worldhunger.org]

      World hunger is not a production problem, it is a distribution problem. It will not be solved by eliminating meat from anyone's diet.

      • Global warming might be solved by eliminating meat from people's diets, though. The carbon emissions of meat and especially of beef are extremely high compared to plant food, as is the land use. I eat meat because it tastes better and is cheap -- but perhaps it would be a good idea to tax meat for the external effects it has.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday December 25, 2017 @12:20AM (#55803217) Homepage Journal

      There's grass-fed beef. It won't satisfy people who don't eat meat for ethical reasons, but it does have less environmental impact than feedlot fattened beef.

      On the other hand it's leaner, and the flavor is different and takes some getting used to. It also take somewhat more land to grow a set number of pounds of beef -- although that land isn't cultivated. Also the USDA has stopped attempting to police the term "grass fed" so you can't quite be sure whether you're actually getting grass-finished beef now. All beef cattle forage for grass at some point in their lives so you could be getting anything.

      That means going with meat from a local farmer -- which is terrific in terms of quality and environmental impact, but costs a lot more on a per-pound basis.

      On the other other hand consuming less of higher quality meat is probably a good thing. You don't really need that much protein. Practically everyone could probably manage an upgrade in culinary quality, healthiness and environmental impact at the same time, but it would take some thought and adjustment.

    • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Monday December 25, 2017 @01:51AM (#55803421) Homepage Journal
      Well, lets just ignore the moral questions about eating meat for a moment. There is a bigger problem that will likely decide the issue. It takes quite a bit of grain and water to raise animals for food. This isn't a big deal when you have 100 million people on the planet, but it gets to be a problem when the world population climbs towards the 10 billion plus mark.

      Assuming that moral views of meat doesn't change, and that science doesn't invent a way to just grow protein in a vat using only sunlight, the cost of the resources required to grow the animals will likely put a hamburger out of reach for a lot of people. So, change is coming one way or another.
  • Educational thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @09:51PM (#55802663)
    Give children plant-based meat, and they wouldn't like beef meat once they became an adult.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Give children plant-based meat, and they wouldn't live lone enough to become an adult.

      Fixed that for you. Humans require meat.

      • I didn't say children eat only plant-based meat. Many ways to get proteins (tofu, Beans & Lentils. ... Lowfat or Nonfat Dairy. ... Fish & Shellfish. ... Tofu & Other Soy Foods. ... Nuts, Nut Butters & Seeds. ... Pork Loin. ... Eggs....)
    • Re:Educational thing (Score:5, Informative)

      by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @10:06PM (#55802751)

      Nope, only some populations are genetically equipped [cornell.edu] for a vegetarian diet. For the rest, lack of meat causes brain shrinkage [couriermail.com.au] and mental disorders [blogspot.com]. And populations that originated from Europe tend to lack such genes -- and some, like the Inuit, are even more extreme.

      That's vegetarian -- vegan diet is far more harmful. Especially for children [independent.co.uk], to the point of proposed bills [dailycaller.com] that outlaw feeding children vegan.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        A generation could be forced into developing nation malnourishment for some big gov enforced food fad.
      • Re:Educational thing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday December 25, 2017 @12:08AM (#55803187)

        Nope, only some populations are genetically equipped [cornell.edu] for a vegetarian diet. For the rest, lack of meat causes brain shrinkage [couriermail.com.au] and mental disorders [blogspot.com].

        This. There is a long out of print book by Mark Vonnegut called "The Eden Express" Mark suffered from Schizophrenia in the early 1970's, and much of his problems were based on a vegetarian diet. After stabilizing him with Thorazine and shock treatments, he went on a normal diet, and with vitamin supplements, became a normal productive person.

        I tried vegatarianism in the early 1980's, and while I didn't go any crazier than I am now, it severely fucked up my digestive system. Fortunately, going back to a normal diet reset my intestinal flora.

        That's vegetarian -- vegan diet is far more harmful.

        I have always thought that a vegan starts out with trying to define everything in life as good or bad (this is a bad thing to do, and leads to bad mental outcomes) So they embark on a journey to try to ensure that everything they do is good.

        Killing animals is bad, especially the cute ones, so eating their "corpse meat" is likewise bad. So they stop. That Chicken didn't give you permission to eat it's eggs, or that cow it's milk or the honey we callously steal from the innocent bees. So that is verboten.

        So they embark on this completely irrational and artificial and un-natural diet of only things they have determined are ethically "good".

        My reply to them is that just who are they to set themselves up as arbiter of what is good and bad.

        All life is precious, from the lowest bacteria to yeasts, to plants, to animals. And unless a human being somehow becomes a chemoautotroph, and can surgive by directly taking minerals and digesting them, the human does not live unless the human kills another life form. No way around it. The vegan is no less a killer than the meat eaters they consider below them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There is nothing magical about meat, it's just chemicals. I doubt there is any nutritionally useful chemical in meat we can't already mass produce cheaply.

        Stuff like Coenzyme Q10, hydroxocobalamin (B12 as it occurs in meat), L-carnosine, Taurine etc. are not common in vegan diets ... but you can just fortify the food.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Plants are living things too, what makes you think that its ok to eat plants but not animals?

    Some unjustifiable belief that animals are more important than plants?

    I don't have the answer, but this is not it

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt.nerdflat@com> on Sunday December 24, 2017 @09:55PM (#55802689) Journal
    Lots of people eat meat because it tastes good, not because of the protein.
    • This is what I was about to say. I don't care if it's real meat, lab-made meat or completely fake plant-meat as long as it tastes and feels like real meat. Though, obviously, if the fake plant-meat cost more than real meat, then I'd still stick with the real stuff.

  • Absolutely if it is equal in taste and nutrition.

    Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger are growing rapidly, and might well end up capturing huge amounts of the US beef market.

    https://www.fooddive.com/news/impossible-burger-making-its-way-to-foodservice-venues/507812/ [fooddive.com]

    Eggs will likely be replaced by plant based artificial eggs in most of the food industry.

    http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/11/06/the-worlds-first-plant-based-egg-is-putting-the-egg-industry-in-a-panic/ [collective-evolution.com]

    Hopefully most stuff made of meat will

    • I get free eggs from the chickens that wander around my yard. If I don't eat them, i'd just have to throw them away because they tend to explode after a few weeks. And you don't want to be in the same hemisphere as an exploded egg.
  • Whatever you do, please dont call your "plant based" beef "Soylent Beef". That brand name has some baggage.
    • Whatever you do, please call your "plant based" beef "Soylent Beef". That brand name has some marvelous associative name-recognition positives in the marketing data.

      FTFY

      One must learn to always view these things first as a marketing/branding campaign, as that's typically how they are eventually perceived, if not viewed that way right from the beginning.

      It seems insane, true. Keep in mind, however, that we are descendants of Golgafrincham hairdressers, telephone sanitizers, and marketing executives. "We'll have to burn down all the forests to prevent inflation."

      Strat

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
    On average humans who eat beef with a quality and varied diet grow strong.
    A generation of smart people who can study, do sport and who are on average healthy.
    Consider a population over a generation who was on a more restricted diet?
    Stunted, weak, effeminate, sick. Lacking in the nutrition to grow strong and to an average normal level given good nutrition.
    Ensure your population gets good food. Beef, fruit, vegetables, clean water. Access to education and sport.
    Why weaken and force a generation of hea
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @10:05PM (#55802737)

    People should eat what they want. They want beef, they pay for beef, they should get beef.

    What kind of world asks people to accept a sad substitute for real food? Why should we all agree to lead impoverished lives, generation after generation, forever?

    So we can go to environmentalist heaven? I'd rather not.

  • I've tried all the major brands and they all taste horrible. Why are they even trying? Nothing can match the real thing.

    If you're satisfied by vegetables pretending to be meat, you must be one of those people who think sex robots can replace a real human woman. How pathetic!

    Go ahead. Settle for second best, almost good enough, and substitutes. I won't.
    • I have to agree, the frozen veggie burgers aren't the greatest. Bean Burgers, like Hummus need to be made fresh, and they also need a little bit of raw egg to hold them together.

      If you are ever in the neighborhood, stop here for a Homemade Black Bean Burger [weebly.com], made fresh (with a little bit of egg), they bean burgers are amazing and as good as a hamburger. There are nothing like the frozen bean burger ilk. Try making them yourself and see how good they can be.

  • We are vastly underestimating our genetic predispositions and the depth of our senses if we think that everyone will ever be happy with meat that isn't meat.
  • This headline is a joke. If you think yes, then go ahead and eat your tofurky, but don't teach others what to eat.

  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @10:35PM (#55802849) Homepage

    So for health reasons, I have had to change my diet. If you haven't tried this meat substitute, it is amazing....

    Seven Grain Chicken Tenders [target.com]

    and you can get them at Target.

    Even fast food is becoming plant based. As meat prices go UP UP UP and fast food prices stay at $1.99, they need to use filler in the meat. That filler is SOY bean, which incidentally, had the largest crop ever last year. [usda.gov] Also, don't fear the SOY, you won't grow breasts or start singing alto.

    Eat less meat, more plants. You will feel better, look better, and cut your cancer risk.

  • I for one eat animal products because they provide complete proteins more readily and make it easy to consume lower calories. My focus is on protein intake and convenience. If there is a plant substitute, I would be all for it. I understand that I am in the minority though. I am one of those that are not wired to get a lot of excitement out of food. If it is cheap, nutritious and is versatile - I would take it. Meat should be an occasional indulgence, rather than staple.

    Trouble is, things like this should c

    • Beans and Rice are compliments that give complete proteins. They are among the cheapest foods that you can get a hold of and have numerous recipes for them.

      That can replace any animal protein and budgetary concerns you have.

    • I just eat meat 'cuz it tastes good. I also eat vegetables, fruits and nuts 'cuz they taste good.
  • "Plant based meat" is an oxymoron unless that's what we're calling grass fed beef now.
  • by AlanObject ( 3603453 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @11:06PM (#55802983)

    * It is likely your last cucumber sandwich killed as many animals as your last hamburger.

    * Humans were evolved to eat meat. To be fully vegetarian you would need a much longer digestive tract in which you could ferment plant matter like a gorilla or cow.

    * Zinc, B12, and about a dozen other micro-nutrients that are NOT optional are hard to get for a vegetarian and impossible for a vegan. Popping a bunch of dietary supplements is a poor substitute and no way to live.

    * There has never been a sustained human population that was fully vegetarian.

    * The way we treat food animals is cruel, horrific and unconscionable. This is one area where the militant vegans and I see eye to eye. It has to stop.

    * Cattle and other food animals can be easily raised on land that is not farmable. Too rocky too steep or soil where only grasses grow. The animal secretions help the ecosystem build more fertile topsoil. Other species live with cow pastures whereas plant agriculture tends toward monoculture where everything but the desired crop is poisoned and killed.

    That's off the top of my head. I have a couple dozen more points but I am done for tonight.

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @11:29PM (#55803059) Journal

      * It is likely your last cucumber sandwich killed as many animals as your last hamburger.

      Naked bullshit.

      * Zinc, B12, and about a dozen other micro-nutrients that are NOT optional are hard to get for a vegetarian and impossible for a vegan. Popping a bunch of dietary supplements is a poor substitute and no way to live.

      * There has never been a sustained human population that was fully vegetarian.

      It's not like there are millions of Indians who are vegetarian, is it? Oh wait, there are.

      * Cattle and other food animals can be easily raised on land that is not farmable. Too rocky too steep or soil where only grasses grow. The animal secretions help the ecosystem build more fertile topsoil. Other species live with cow pastures whereas plant agriculture tends toward monoculture where everything but the desired crop is poisoned and killed.

      Bullshit. Cattle live on land that is suitable for arable farming and take massive amounts of water. Sheep, or goats, maybe, but how many people in the USA eats sheep or goat?

      • > Naked bullshit.

        The guy you're replying to forgot that typical vegan don't count anything smaller than a bird as a living thing. They judge which forms of life are OK to kill and which are not. So all sort of bugs that get killed, dislocated or whatever when the harvest season begin - don't matter. They cannot see them, hence they're not important ( in the eyes of the vegans ).

        > It's not like there are millions of Indians who are vegetarian, is it? Oh wait, there are.

        Yeah, let's look at the
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @11:11PM (#55802999)

    So I'm a farmer, but I must confess that the beef producers are wrong about the natural fertilizer thing. The fact is that all food (human or animal) removes nutrients from the soil in which they grew. Cattle concentrate some nutrients in their manure which can be placed back on the land, but the nutrients that go into the beef itself end up in human waste products. If those are not recycled, they are removed from the farm land, and must be replaced with nutrients from another source, usually mined in the form of minerals like phosphate.

    Either way you look at it, to get sustainable food production, we must recycling all organic waste, even human waste, back into farms and fields. If this loop is closed, then obviously plant-based proteins are going to be our best, most efficient bet.

    I for one have no problem with replacing meat with plant proteins if we can get the taste and texture somewhat good. I'm in favor.

    • 1) There's typically a 10:1 ratio in biomass at each step of the food chain. That is, to produce 1 pound of beef, the cow needs to eat roughly 10 pounds of grass. So 90% of the nutrients the cow gets from the grass end up recycled in cow manure. Only 10% goes into the beef (where 9% becomes human feces and 1% becomes human biomass). The vast majority of what the cow consumes ends up going into its manure, not "some."

      2) "Nutrients" do not necessarily survive cellular processes. The catalyst-type nutr
  • Meat was outlawed and replaced by a plant based surrogate.

    But according to the series due to production of methane which carries a high impact on global warming due to being 25 times as potent as CO2.

    Next there are fusion powered atmospheric converters catching CO2 and producing O2 because mankind has reduced the forest and cut off that O2 source.

    Ohh wait .. the swiss are going to trial that minus the fusion powered and O2 regeneration.

  • I read this transcript, and like most well meaning generalizations, it fails to provide specific actors other than "we", "us", "the United States" and "the rest of the world."

    So no, in general, without a specific actor, plant-based meat should not replace beef. That is because:
    1.) There is no such thing as plant based meat. It does not exist, despite how much anyone wants it to exist.
    2.) For whom should this replacement apply? I think this should be up to individuals to decide. If the costs to the planet ar

  • by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Monday December 25, 2017 @12:10AM (#55803193) Journal

    Personally I don't eat meat any more but you just have to look at the trends of the last few decades and the increasing availability of cheap mass farmed meats and the death of the traditional butcher shop to see the impact our current eating habits have on us. If we returned to meat being more of a treat we would be a lot healthier than we are but the meat industry has convinced everyone that they must eat far more meat than they actually should and worse, they have scaled up production to appalling levels inflicting terrible short lives on the animals people are eating.

    I visited the USDA-MARC in Nebraska some years back and they are busy breeding animals to produce more meat with less food input and in shorter time because that's what the farmers want. The product of this intensive farming doesn't taste good compared with grass fed animals but people want (or have been convinced they want) a lot of cheap meat. Whatever technology can do to improve our diets and reduce the mistreatment of animals has got to be good. I wouldn't go so far as saying people can't eat meat, but I have to say that the amount of abuse I get from people who do eat it because I won't shows that they clearly know they're the ones on the wrong side of the fence.

  • by Steve Jackson ( 4687763 ) on Monday December 25, 2017 @12:28AM (#55803233)
    I say we start eating the PETA activists and Vegans! :-D
  • by InterGuru ( 50986 ) <jhdNO@SPAMinterguru.com> on Monday December 25, 2017 @01:22AM (#55803371) Homepage

    At the headquarters of Denali National Park, there is an exhibit on caribou. They do not have an easy life. Four fifth of the calves never make it to adulthood, mostly falling to predators who rip them apart and eat them alive. The survivors are plagued by swarms of biting flies and parasites that burrow tunnels in their haunches before they are weakened by age or disease, and ripped apart by a predator.

    This contrasts with responsibly raised farm animals, who have room, board, and medical care, live much longer than their cousins in the wild. They certainly die more humanely than being eaten alive, in fact they die more humanely than most of us do hooked up to machines.

    I grew up in the country and saw how wild animals lived. I suspect that most animal rights people’s experience with animals is limited to dog, cats, and zoos.

    While on a bus at Denali, we saw a fox walk by with a bloody squirrel dripping from his jaws This was a revelation to my wife who was raised in a genteel suburb. From the oohs and aahs it caused it seemed to be a revelation to most of the passengers.

    While I certainly back humane treatment of captive animals,. I think at the further end, animal rights people, isolated from nature, are projecting their human selves on animals.

    • "responsibly raised farm animals, who have room, board, and medical care"

      But no unlimited internet?
  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Monday December 25, 2017 @10:23AM (#55804321)

    Depends on your goals...

    If your goal is to create centralized, industrialized, Big Ag food then plant based pseudo meat works great.

    If your goal is decentralized, small farm, local economies then pasture based grazing animal based real meat works great.

    Frankly, there is no need to call plant based foods meat - that is deception. Call them what they are: Highly processed plant based foods.

    I'll take the real thing any day.

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