Is Plant-Based Meat the Future of Food?

Group 5

A new study showed that the market of the plant-based meat will dramatically grow, to be worth $8.3 billion by the year 2025. (Vegan,2020) In 2020, many companies around the world introduce the plant-based meat to their majors. Plant-based meat becomes more popular than before and even regarded as the potential world-changing product. But what’s the scientific benefits of the plant-based meat? Is it a fad or the future of the food? Are there any obstacles to its development?

Plant-based meat – an alternative to old-fashioned meat

Gas emissions per gram of protein in poultry is the highest among the various sources of protein which increases the greenhouse effect. Plant-based meat satisfy the growing demand of meat consumption with less environmental resources required compared to animal husbandry. According to research, 82%~96% of the clean water and 90% space can be conserved if the production of the red meat is replaced with the plant-based meat, which is in the interest of utilitarianism to preserve these resources and enable more people to have opportunities for meat consumption, thus increasing the ‘pleasure’. The public awareness of animal rights should be considered. Even in modern society, a large number of animals are still being slaughtered under an extremely poor and inhumane conditions. (Animal Rights, 2021) The spread of plant-based meat assists in mitigating or even stopping the slaughter of animals, which satisfies the requirement of aspirational code of conduct to change the world in a positive way and minimize harm. Less slaughter is also supported by Kantian theory because it is in agreement with the moral rule that animal rights should be treated the same as human beings in some degree.

NHS estimates that 25% adults’ life is affected by obesity in the UK, which is also a severe problem around the world. The excessive red meat consumption is related to many chronic, potentially deadly diseases such as high cholesterol, cancers, cardiovascular disease. (Bridgeman, 2020) The development of plant-based meat enables the overweight people to have a better nutrient balance without adding too much pressure on them. The increase in plant-based meat consumption is led by categorical imperatives and therefore it is a good will, because almost everyone would like to have a healthy body. The pandemic of Covid-19 has accelerated the development of plant-based meat industry. The outbreaks of epidemic in crowded and dirty factory farms reminds people of that public health hazard. (Piper, 2020) The antibiotic and hormones existing in forage cause another worldwide public health problem-antibiotic resistance. Both can be solved by promoting the proportion of plant-based meat consumption, which meets the target of utilitarianism to produce maximum happiness.

The sales of plant-based meat reach $5 billion in 2019 and are predicted to be worth $8.3 billion in 2025. Even some large meat production companies invest in plant-based meat such as Impossible Burger from Burger King, (Bridgeman, 2020) suggesting the increasing trend of consumer interest in alternatives. For both companies and consumers, the utilitarianism can be applied because meatless meat creates more job opportunities and the taste is the same as meat.

Plant-based meat——the impact on current conceptions

Although plant-based meat has gained some ground, there are still many problems that cannot be avoided. The primary concern of the public is the security of vegetarian meat. To achieve the taste and flavor similar to the real meat, manufacturers choose to apply various food additives and highly process vegetarian meat. Compared with real meat, plant-based meat contains much higher levels of sodium. Heme is also used to give the meat its red color and beefy taste. However, too much sodium can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure. Heme has also been reported to be associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes. By utilitarianism, more realistic taste at the expense of long-term health is unacceptable because consumers’ greater happiness is sacrificed.

Besides, plant-based meat has also faced opposition from some purchasers further down the supply chain. According to a 2019 report in San Francisco Chronicle, Several American catering companies announced they were suspending their procurement of plant-based meats from Beyond and Impossible. From Kantian theory, they agreed that real food should follow the principle of ‘raw quality ingredient + handmade’. While vegetarian meat products were popular in the region, the catering companies argued that food products containing genetically modified ingredients and alternative fillers go against their motto of ‘Food with integrity’, which is immoral. Also, meat plays a vital role in society and family traditions for omnivores. Plant-based meat can replace the taste of meat and satisfy the taste buds, but not so completely. From a caring perspective, it can’t pass on the emotional value of meat itself in human communication. Tofurky, a plant-based food company, a manager said it could not seem to carry the same sentimental, symbolic value as a whole roasted bird on Thanksgiving Day.

Another topic focuses on the protection of the environment. As stated above, plant-based meat consumption can save a lot of natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, that does not mean plant-based meat is environmentally friendly. The widely planting of genetically modified (GM) crops has created new problems. According to Hodo plant-based tofu company’s founder Minh Tsai, genetically modified soya has caused genetic contamination in the region. The number of soybean varieties has shrunk from 200 to 20 over the past 50 years. Intensive crop monocultures reduce the resilience of the local environment to pest hazards and climate change. For utilitarianism, this is not a good deal. Although it solves resource consumption, new and complex environmental problems are also created. From the virtue ethical point of view, although plant-based meat companies promote environmentally friendly and healthy vegetarian diets, they are motivated by profit rather than long-term moral, social or political considerations. It is not to say that these companies are unethical at all. However, In the pursuit of the profit maximization process, they may ‘cross the line’ in the absence of ethical regulation and professional guidance.

Initial decision

We are for the development of plant-based meat, even though it has some ethical flaws.

Reference:

Janelle Bitker. (2019) ’Four ethical questions about plant-based meat’, Available at: https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/Four-ethical-questions-about-plant-based-14486312.php

Jeff Sebo. (2018) ’The ethics and politics of plant-based and cultured meat’, Available at: https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/ateliers/2018-v13-n1-ateliers04192/1055123ar/

Desley L. White and Avril Collinson (2013) ‘Red Meat, Dietary Heme Iron, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: The Involvement of Advanced Lipoxidation Endproducts’, Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC394182

Leigh, H. 2020. “What we’re getting wrong about Ethical Eating”. Available at: https://greatist.com/eat/ethical-eating-sustainability-and-veganism-reality

Irene, L. 2019. “Lab-grown, plant-based meats raise thorny ethical questions about animal welfare, sustainability”. Available at https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/03/20/lab-grown-plant-based-meats-raise-thorny-ethical-questions-about-animal-welfare-sustainability/

Arzoo Ahmed. (2020) ‘Meat alternatives’, Available at: https://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/publications/meat-alternatives/read-the-briefing-note/plant-based-meat-alternatives

Animal Rights. (2021) “Animal Rights – Who We Are” Available at: https://www.animalrights.nl/animal-rights-who-we-are?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6tGR_rWp7wIVlJ3VCh1EbAQuEAAYAyAAEgKJ-vD_BwE (Accessed: March 15, 2021)

Bridgeman, Laura. (2020) “Plant-Based Meat: A Brighter Future for Food?” Available at: https://sentientmedia.org/plant-based-meats/ (Accessed: March 13, 2021)

Piper, Kelsey. (2020) “The next challenge for plant-based meat: Winning the price war against animal meat” Available at: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21366607/beyond-impossible-plant-based-meat-factory-farming (Accessed: March 17, 2021)

Vegan food and living. n.d. “Global plant-based meat market set to be worth $8.3 billion by 2025” Available at: https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/news/plant-based-meat-market-worth-8-billion-2025/ (Accessed: March 10, 2021)

19 thoughts on “Is Plant-Based Meat the Future of Food?

  1. Opening statement. The problem is reasonably clear but I’m not sure what the dilemma is.
    The argument for plant-based meat is reduced CO2, more efficient use of land and, of course, animal welfare. But what’s the argument against? A quick search suggests that the salt content might be too high. Please define the dilemma. I like the topic but I need a compelling reason to stop buying plant-based burgers.

    Arguments for: Excellent use of ethical theories.

    Arguments against:
    Ah! Now I find the issues. You mention salt content and the use of heme. And also mention that some of the ingredients are genetically modified. All that’s needed is to make this side of the dilemma clearer.

    Excellent use of ethical theories.

    Advice for Assignment Two:
    Be sure to make the dilemma clear at the start. The ethical argumentation is strong.
    For stakeholders – animals could be considered.

    Try and drum up more comments. I’m perfectly OK with you striking deals – whereby you comment on other articles and they comment on yours.

  2. I’m a friend of Jingwen Liu, who is in Group 5. I can’t post comments on the EthicsForge site so I have to email my comment to you.

    Topic: Is Plant-Based Meat the Future of Food?

    My comment:
    I think large market of planted- based meat and the worsening environment support this view. Most people really do want to reduce their meat consumption a little bit and replace it with more plants, and they want to do that with something that’s delicious and affordable and easy to cook.

    Sincerely,
    Xuan Huang

  3. Dear Dr Patrick Smith,

    I’m a friend of Jingwen Liu, who is in Group 5. I can’t post comments on the EthicsForge site so I have to email my comment to you.

    Topic: Is Plant-Based Meat the Future of Food?

    My comment: Meatless meat is a popular topic and many people think it provides us with healthier lifestyles. But I think we do have just as much fat and high sodium as a regular red meat because they are technically plant based. Having a plant-based diet is fine, but it can’t be the future of the food. 

    Sincerely,Yuchen

  4. Honestly i would prefer the traditional meat. Since there is no evidence shows that plant-based meat can keep the taste of the meat, or even worse, from the point of eating, I don’t like to choose plant-based meat. Traditional meat still have the market until the plant-based meat got the same taste or even better.

  5. If the industry is to capitalize on the growing plant-based opportunities in the market, it must overcome concerns about the validity of vegan claims on food labeling. For example, there have been many media reports about products making such claims having been contaminated by ingredients sourced from animals.

  6. For families that are used to eating plant based meat, when a new baby comes along, will the plant based meat affect the development of a new baby or is that suitable for children?

  7. Well, I am a bit conservative cuz I am a meet lover. Probably 5-10 years till the technology get mature then I may give a try , otherwise I feel it not so reliable. Also , if Gordon use it in his newest program I’ll buy it, LOL.

  8. In contrast, I prefer traditional meat. The meat quality and taste of different parts of the same animal are different. Plant-based meat cannot restore the taste of different meats. And at present, plant-based meat cannot compete with traditional meat in terms of taste and price.

  9. Very interesting article. Personally, I don’t like plant-based meat at all. Out of curiosity I once bought a few packs and shared with my family. They are more expensive than real meat but tasted just like normal luncheon meat and very salty. Although many people claim that eating plant-based meat can protect the environment, I still think it is far worse than real meat.

  10. Very good article. In fact, I tried to buy plant-based meat because of curiosity before, which is a soy product made similar to beef. But after the taste, my personal feeling is still very different from the real beef taste. Although the production of plant-based meat can indeed save a certain amount of production resources and is more ethical. However, the current production cost is still very high, and there are certain differences in taste. I personally think that the research and development and production of plant-based meat can become a future trend, but it cannot completely replace real meat.

  11. Good articles!!! but, one concern: with the popularity of plant-based meat industry, there must will be commercial competition to some extent. It will be worried if there is some fake plant based meat, but the consumers may not know it.

  12. Good point, there seems to be an increase in reports of poultry outbreaks in recent years, and there have been many cases of people getting sick from eating infected meat. Using plant-based meat is a good way to reduce the risk of poultry disease. In addition, as mentioned in the article, the use of plant-based meat will contribute to environmental protection. I quite support the point of view of the article.

  13. As a meat lover, I support plant-based meat. Because I am suffering from fatty liver, I need to control the intake of fat. Due to the lack of exercise in the raised animals, the traditional meat contains a lot of fat, which is not good for health. However, plant-based meat can be customized production, which is mainly made of soy protein. Plant-based is rich in protein and has small amount of fat, so it is a healthy food.

  14. Aha~I’m a vegetarian and I think plant based meat really helps me with a lot of my physical needs. I think people who are interested can make some videos about how to cook a delicious one and put it on YouTube. I will subscribe to it!!!

  15. I think it is really a good idea because you know, nowadays there are more and more people on the earth. So what would happen if there are so many people that it is impossible for everyone to get meet. Imagine if you are a people in that kind of condition, there are two kinds of meat on the market one is real meat which sells about 50 pounds while another one is plant-based meat which is maybe 10 pounds. They have the same taste same nutrition. Except for the price they are almost exactly the same, which one will you choose? I think I will choose the cheap one.

  16. Well, although I’m a meat fanatic, I love nature and animals. If the spread of plant-based meat can actually reduce animal deaths and have some positive impact on the environment, then I’m willing to give it a try.

  17. These plant-based meats may have some not good qualities,heavily in food coloring. Be a wise consumer, we should choose meat with less processing rather than plant-based meat.

  18. In today’s world, the diversity of food production and the pressures people face in life make meat an indispensable pastime for people.Therefore, as mentioned in the article about the impact of obesity, plant meat can meet the need to achieve a good balance between physical health and pleasure, which is very consistent with utilitarianism.The article also mentioned that plant meat may bring about moral deficiency, but I think these problems can be solved in the future. The biggest advantage of artificial synthesis is that it is full of possibilities, and more solutions can be sought.As long as the market to invest enough attention to such products, in the competition will naturally get the best solution.

  19. Personally, I agree that plant- based meat will replace animal meat in the future. I have tried vegetarian meat, and I think it is indeed comparable to animal meat. But the problem now is that the price of plant- based meat may be more expensive than animal meat, which makes most people unwilling to choose plant- based meat. If the future can slove this problem, I believe that plant- based meat can gradually become people’s first choice food

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