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By 2040, 60% of ‘meat’ won’t come from dead animals

Experts say two emerging meat alternatives will challenge the conventional meat industry.

Impossible burger

ROBYN BECK/Contributor
  • "Novel vegan meat alternatives" and cultured meat will likely become competitors to traditional meat products, the report says.
  • The report was conducted by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney and was based on expert interviews.
  • Cultured meat isn't yet on the market, but could be by 2021.


A new report predicts that 60 percent of the meat people eat in 2040 won't come from dead animals, but rather from plant-based substitutes and cultured meat. "The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil," the report states, adding later: "With the advantages of novel vegan meat replacements and cultured meat over conventionally produced meat, it is only a matter of time before they capture a substantial market share."

The report — conducted by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, and based on expert interviews — found that "classic vegan and vegetarian meat replacements as well as insect-based meat alternatives" probably won't disrupt the $1,000 billion conventional meat industry.

What could? The report identifies two candidates: novel vegan meat replacements, like the Impossible Burger, and cultured meat, which is grown in a lab and doesn't require killing animals. These unconventional meat alternatives have market potential because they taste similar to conventional meat. What's more, both are better for the environment than the conventional meat industry, whose supply chain — from feed production to methane emissions to meat processing — requires massive amounts of energy, and it's unlikely to become any more efficient.

So, for carnivores concerned about the environment, cultured meat could be a way to finally enjoy guilt-free meat. Most consumers seem up for giving it a shot. "Novel vegan meat replacements are marketable due to the trend toward semi-vegetarianism and their sophisticated sensory profile," the report states.

Interestingly, this also applies to cultured meat. In recent surveys, most respondents in Western countries are willing to taste cultured meat and half of them are willing to buy it regularly. Similar studies show that people in India and China are particularly interested in cultured meat. Crucial for consumer acceptance is to educate society to point out the benefits of cultured meat.

Cultured meat will likely hit markets by 2021, experts say. The meat alternative wields great potential because it requires relatively little arable land and water, and because the production process will only become more efficient as the industry grows in scale.

Meat alternatives offer hope for a looming problem: How are we going to feed the world's growing population, which is expected to soar from 7.6 billion in 2018 to 10 billion in 2050? Whatever the answer, it's clear that the inefficiency of the conventional meat industry is a major obstacle, considering more than half of global agricultural production is used to feed livestock, not people.

Just How Much Land Does the Federal Government Own — and Why?

The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC.

Surprising Science

The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada.

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Can VR help us understand layers of oppression?

Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.

Future of Learning
  • Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
  • Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
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Russia claims world's first COVID-19 vaccine but skepticism abounds

President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced coronavirus vaccine at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Credit: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Coronavirus
  • Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Russia.
  • Scientists around the world are worried that the vaccine is unsafe and that Russia fast-tracked the vaccine without performing the necessary phase 3 trials.
  • To date, Russia has had nearly 900,000 registered cases of coronavirus.
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