Technology Paving the Way for the Future of Ethical Meat Production

Is it possible for technology to make meat production sustainable, healthy and ethical? Demand for meat is expected to rise in the years and decades ahead, driven by economic and population growth. At the same time, climate concerns are coming to a boiling point.


Meat currently accounts for a shocking 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions from food production. This leads many activists, analysts and consumers to turn to more ethical, sustainable alternatives. Technology may help the meat production industry change for the better and embrace these challenges.


Sustainable Farming

There is a misconception that for meat to be ethical, it has to be plant-based or otherwise made from something that is not an animal. However, although traditional farming can have unethical practices, the industry itself is not wrong. Meat production is part of the natural life cycle of the global ecosystem that humans are a part of.


Real meat can be ethically produced with the right technology and practices. This includes ensuring livestock are comfortable and healthy. It also includes reducing the environmental impact of meat production. Farmers and ranchers can work toward ethical goals by using technology.


For example, agricultural rendering technology is instrumental in reducing meat production’s carbon footprint. This process recycles the organic waste created in the meat production process and reduces the industry’s water usage and emissions. Any rancher or meat production company could implement rendering as part of their sustainability initiatives.


Farmers and ranchers can also reduce emissions and invest in clean energy by utilizing methane from animal manure. More farmers are reaping the benefits of this technology, which can quickly pay for itself. Converting waste into biofuels allows farmers to reduce their emissions and get a valuable fuel source that also earns them carbon credits.


Plant-Based Meat

Experts have pointed out that traditional food sources, particularly meat, will likely not be enough to feed the human population down the road. The agricultural industry is changing to meet this challenge. Plant-based options have become the leading alternative to traditional meat, driven by consumer demand for more ethical protein.


The plant-based meat market is expected to grow fivefold by 2030. This indicates overwhelming consumer demand for sustainable alternatives. Plant-based meats are more ethical than their conventional counterparts and are often healthier. They typically have less saturated fat and more fiber. Since these meat alternatives are artificially made, extra healthy ingredients such as vitamins and natural protein can be added, as well.


Even if only a fraction of the global population switched to plant-based meat, greenhouse gas emissions from food production would be significantly diminished. This technology could provide healthy, nutrient-rich food to billions for a fraction of conventional meat's cost and carbon footprint.


Plant-based meat technology has gotten incredibly good over the last several years, both in terms of texture and flavor. It is often hard to tell the difference between “real” and plant-based meat. In fact, some of the world’s biggest fast-food chains are even adopting plant-based menu items. As the technology advances further, more people might be convinced to give it a try.


Cultured Meat

Plant-based meat isn’t the only alternative changing agriculture. Cultured meat is taking things to the next level by growing it without the livestock. Farmers painlessly extract a small tissue sample from livestock, such as a single cow. That cow’s cells are then isolated in a safe, sterile environment. Finally, a bioreactor is used to synthetically grow the cells into tissue.


Cultured meat achieves the ethical and environmental benefits of plant-based food while also giving consumers the “real” meat experience. It may sound off-putting at first, but it is actually much safer than conventional meat. Since it is produced in a sterile, controlled environment, there is far less risk of viruses and bacteria. Additionally, no animals are killed to make it, even though it is, in fact, animal tissue.


Cultured meat production is far less harmful to the environment. A farmer would not need a field of hundreds of cattle, producing tons of methane a year. Instead, they could raise a small family of cows, who would get to have long, leisurely lives.


Meat That’s Better for All

The world needs to advance our food technology to ensure everyone has enough to eat. These advancements are making meat production a more ethical, sustainable industry. Innovating conventional farms and embracing new kinds of food can feed the world and care for it at the same time.


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