Meat will Mostly Not Come from Dead Animals by 2040, says Report

Report estimates that 60% of "meat" will be plant-based or cultured

“The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil,” says a report by AT Kearney. “With the advantages of novel vegan meat replacements and cultured meat over conventionally produced meat, it is only a matter of time before they capture a substantial market share.”

So much so that the global consultancy estimates that 60% of so-called “meat” will not require the slaughtering of animals by 2040. That food will be a combination of plant-based products that look and feel like meat, and cultured meat grown in vats. 

Clean Meat

The prediction is that the larger share of this will come from cultured meat otherwise known as “clean meat”. AT Kearney believes that the fact that this technology can mimic traditional meat more accurately. There will inevitably be some regulation that will need to be put in place for this new technology. 

Clean meat is a controversial issue within the vegan community. Currently as it stands it is not vegan since it uses animal cells though some companies are working on an animal-free version. But some vegans support the technology as it does not require the active slaughter of animals. 

Surveys in the US, China and India indicate that customer hesitation about cultured meat will not be a barrier to consumers eating the product. On this basis, the report believes that “cultured meat will win in the long run. However, novel vegan meat replacements will be essential in the transition phase.”

Global Meat Industry’s Uber moment

The global meat industry is about to be massively disrupted. It will need to be nimble to survive its “Uber moment”. The shift away from traditional animal farming has is well under way. Millennials are going vegan much faster than the older demographics as they demand a greater sense of urgency to protect the environment. Consumers, investors and entrepreneurs are driving the change to replace traditional animal protein.

“The shift towards flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles is undeniable, with many consumers cutting down on their meat consumption as a result of becoming more conscious towards the environment and animal welfare,” commented Carsten Gerhardt, an AT Kearney partner. “For passionate meat-eaters, the predicted rise of cultured meat products means that they still get to enjoy the same diet they always have, but without the same environmental and animal cost attached.”

There is massive inefficiency in traditional farming in which almost half of the planet’s crops are fed to livestock. Humans consuming that meat only obtain around 15% of the plant calories involved in the entire process. Nothing less than a complete new agricultural revolution has been demanded by some commentators. Bruce Friedrich spoke eloquently about this at a recent TED Talk. 

Indeed the speed of the transformation is quite dramatic leading some to question whether the report’s conclusions may come to pass significantly before 2040. 

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Nicholas Orosz

Nicholas is a former City solicitor and Cambridge graduate. He has a long-standing interest in health & nutrition, the environmental movement, green politics & digital publishing. He has always loved crafting words. His transition to a vegan perspective has been gradual and an ongoing process of self-discovery. Contact:

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