Unlike at any other moment in history, we now have the ability to blend imagination with design to improve the world around us. An array of inventions has improved lives for billions of people across the globe.
Smartphones allow farmers and textile workers in the developing world to start small businesses and move out of desperate poverty. Modern air travel and the internet have made travel and information more accessible than previous generations could have even imagined.
Now, that same spirit of innovation is coming to our dinner plates. Just as modern automobiles replaced the horse and buggy, better alternatives will replace conventional animal agriculture.
United Nations scientists state that raising animals for food is “one of the major causes of the world's most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.”
Growing crops to feed them to farm animals is vastly inefficient, driving up the price of grains and legumes, and entrenching global poverty; to produce enough food for 9 billion people by 2050, we will need a more efficient system.
The current production of animal products subjects tens of billions of thinking, feeling animals to lives of extreme confinement, emotional trauma, painful mutilations, and violent deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, tens of millions of Americans get sick every year from eating contaminated meat, and thousands die. About 80 percent of antibiotics produced in the U.S. are given to farm animals. This steady stream of antibiotics contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and superbugs that cannot be killed by standard antibiotics.
One breakthrough alternative to conventionally raising animals is "clean" (i.e., cultured) meat. The idea is simple—to create animal meat without the use of animals. The process involves taking farm animal cells and placing them in a nutrient mixture that helps them develop into pure muscle tissue.
By eliminating the live animal, clean meat is produced free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and salmonella. And the process is efficient, reducing land and water costs and slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Companies in the U.S. and Europe are already producing clean hamburgers, steak bites, and pork sausage, plus clean milk and egg products.
There is also incredible innovation underway in the world of plant-based foods. Food scientists are examining animal products at the molecular level and sourcing plants with matching proteins and nutrients to create delicious plant-based meats, eggs, and dairy products that are healthier and more sustainable than conventional animal products.