THE CLIMATE IS FED UP WITH OUR CRAVING FOR MEAT.
It has already been agreed – at the 2015 climate summit in Paris – that the foodstuffs sector must also reduce its emissions. But no mandatory limits or measurable targets have been put in place. So short-term growth targets are more important than sustainable climate targets.
The good news: industry, research and technology are hungry for alternative forms of food, particularly sustainable ones. They may seem somewhat strange to those of us who are creatures of habit. However, even potatoes were despised at first.
NEW PROTEIN SOURCES: INSECTS AND PULSES
Insects are rich in protein but require little feed, care or space. For animal and fish farmers, they are a sustainable alternative to standard feed. In the EU, insects have been licensed as food since 2016; the market potential for flour, snacks, noodles and meat substitutes has been growing ever since. In spring 2018, IKEA – to mention just one example – announced that it is working on a sustainable menu in cooperati on with the innovation lab Space10. This menu is to include “neatballs” - a type of meatball made of mealworms.Other protein-rich foods include pulses such as lentils, peas, lupini and other beans, which need less water and fertilizer than grain does. They are now being rediscovered not only as a food staple, but also as an alternative form of feed.
VEGETABLES FROM THE WATER: ALGAE
30 million tonnes are already being fished out of the sea. Rich in protein and minerals, algae are not only served in salads but also used as meat substitutes, natural dyes, thickening agents and even to replace eggs. Microalgae cultivated in so-called photobioreactors can for example also be grown on house walls – welcome to urban farming.
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NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE EXPANDING OUR CULINARY HORIZONS
Health, diet and the environment are inextricably linked and consti tute one of the driving forces behind cellular agriculture. Biotechnology that uses yeasts, bacteria, algae or animal cells is creati ng new foods for humans and animals. Gene technology is enjoying wider acceptance provided it is transparent and environmentally friendly. The “fermenter method” is already being used to produce milk without cows. Textured vegetable proteins manufactured as meat substitutes are becoming increasingly sophisticated and better tasting. Blockchain technology for secure food tracking, AI that creates personalized diet plans, smartwatches that measure blood sugar levels, or 3D printers that act like kitchen machines and print out entire menus: these are just the appetizers in a future-fi t, healthy, ethical diet.
USING THE "HAEMBURGER" TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
Researchers have discovered haem, a plant molecule which helps to give roasted meat its characteristic flavour. This already forms the basis for selling vegetarian hamburgers in the USA which are barely distinguishable from the original version made of beef.
FOR DESSERT: OUR EATING HABITS
A study carried out by the University of Oxford predicts that greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by two thirds by 2050 if all people immediately stopped eating meat. It is unlikely that we will make this cut, but perhaps we will assume greater personal responsibility in the future. Bon appetit!