Meat is a luxury that many take for granted, but a growing number of people believe it’s one that we can no longer afford—in terms of human health, animal welfare and the environment.
As the effects of climate change become more tangible, people are paying attention to the fact that livestock contributes nearly 15 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. They are also more concerned with animal welfare and recognise that too much meat—particularly poor quality meat— is shortening human lives. If the world went vegan, the global healthcare bill could drop by up to US$1.5 trillion by 2050, according to the Vegan Society.
The Rise of Alternative Meat Products
Of course, the prospect of actually going vegan has long been unappealing due to the joyless way it’s often presented. Plant-based meat brands are changing that dramatically with products that are viable replacements for the real thing. According to Barclays, alternative meat products could take a $140 billion or 10 per cent share of the world’s meat market within the next 10 years, from just $14 billion today.
“It’s the first time for veganism to take a Tesla approach,” says Jean-Yves Chow, a food and agriculture analyst at Mizuho Bank. He sees the products as something meat lovers are willing to buy “because they like it,” not just because it’s the responsible thing to do—a huge shift.
Chow sees plant-based meats as “just the beginning of how food is changing, as investors start looking at different areas that can have an impact either on health or the planet.” He sees seafood, which a number of companies are now starting to experiment with, as potentially easier to get right than meat. For the sector to endure, it must consistently offer products that taste at least as good as the ones they are replacing.