Embrace a fake meat future for its lesser-known benefits
by Clive Thompson
RECENTLY I ROLLED into a local restaurant to try an Impossible Burger, an all-plant patty invented by the Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods. It’s renowned for having an eerily chewy, even bloody, meatlike quality, a startling verisimilitude that has made it “perhaps the country’s most famous burger,” as New York magazine recently wrote. One bite into its gorgeous, smoky flavor and, damn, I was convinced.
This is good news, because the time has come to scale up fake meat, fast. Why? Because in the fight to stave off climate change, meat replacement is—forgive me—one of the lowest-hanging fruits.
Meat production chews up land and spews out methane by the kiloton, accounting for about two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. A University of Oxford study recently found that, to keep global warming below 2 degrees this century, we need to be eating 75 percent less beef and 90 percent less pork globally. “Without concentrated change, we really risk exceeding key environmental limits,” Marco Springmann, one of the Oxford researchers, warns me.
Diets are culturally enshrined, so changing them will be hard. Fake meat can help camouflage that epic transformation as a mere tweak.