Bill Gates does not want to give us $5,000 but he does want us to consider that the future can be enjoyable, healthy and environmentally-friendly with faux meats. People in general are becoming more aware that the enormous production and consumption of meat and animal products is having a devastating effect on our health and the environment, not to mention the impact it has on the lives of the animals that are bred purely for our gastronomic pleasure. Remarking that it is unrealistic to expect all people to become vegetarian, Gates proposes focusing our energies on developing more realistic faux meat products.
With a desire to be transparent and real, I need to preface my reaction by saying there are some faux meats that I absolutely love; in particular, Italian-flavor Tofurky sausages and Smokey Maple-Flavor tempeh. I try to be as whole-foods as possible and we do not eat processed vegan meats every week but I am not sure that I would be willing to completely give these products up at this time (hold your breath for my BLT: Bliss, Love This sandwich post). Moreover, I think my child would revolt if I told him that veggie chicken nuggets are banned and I am not ready for that kind of revolution! That being said, the minimal amount of processed and vegan junk products that are consumed in our household are probably quite negligible.
With the above in mind, may I say that these “future foods” are not the path that I would choose to focus my energies on; creating faux meat / animal products in a sophisticated laboratory still seems suspiciously processed to me and does not highlight how satisfying a whole-foods, plant-based diet is. And as one friend commented, how long will it be before we discover that these processed faux meats are unhealthy. I would suggest that while this approach sounds good, it is similar to other well-intended social programs; it doesn’t actually resolve the problem but it does mitigate it and often that is the more realistic approach. There are many voices in this debate and sometimes it is easier to hear from one source and not another. In fact, just in writing this blog post I have had to reflect on and edit my own initial thoughts as some very insightful and thoughtful friends gave me their feedback. Ultimately, Bill Gates with his widespread cultural and financial influence will be able to increase awareness of the desperate environmental issues that our world is battling. After all, “knowing is half the battle.”
Thank you to Sunshine and Slaughter for inspiring this post.