There are a lot of arguments to go Vegan. Off the top of my head I can think of five; climate change, animal welfare, reduced income inequality, enhanced health and spirituality. But there is another reason that doesn’t get touted enough.
I believe that this reason dictates that the world will be Vegan-ish. There is no doubt that this reason will in actuality be the driving force that turns the world Vegan-ish. The reason is quite an unexpected one : Economies of Scale!
Food and Technology are two words that don’t often get used together. However we’ve been mixing the two for millennia. There’s a great book called “Guns, Germs and Steel” which is a phenomenal read and makes an interesting point on food technology. It highlights that even before we became an agrarian society we were altering our wild grains through a degree of selective breeding ( an early form of genetic engineering).
Today we have fundamentally changed every aspect of how we grow and produce food; every aspect from GMO’s to vertical farms. Technology is embedded in our food system.
When it comes to meat alternatives, this is a fascinating story because we have now effectively managed to replicate the taste, flavor and texture of meat. We have done this to such a degree that even the most savvy meat connoisseur would be fooled.
And if meat aficionados can be pleasantly surprised by the great taste of plant based, then certainly the pubic at large will enjoy it. This is why we’re seeing every major fast food joint starting to provide plant based options. Even today it was announced that KFC is trialing Vegan Fried Chicken in 66 stores across the United States.
This forms the basis of why Economies of Scale will take Veganism to world wide adoption.
Economies of Scale
Moores’ law states that computing power doubles every eighteen months. That is why inside of fifteen years you saw a cell phone go from the size of a brick, to the size of a wallet with the power of a super computer.
This is how technology works. It gets real powerful real fast!
In the the case of plant based meat substitutes, it works just the same. It is astounding to see what little equipment it takes to produce meat based substitutes. It requires less land, less water, and less plants to produce food that tastes exactly like meat. That is why it is a growth industry. There are gains to be made.
They’ve figured out the production process and they’ve figured out what makes meat taste like meat. Now the question is how to scale things, and when that happens prices will really start to drop.
At the moment, prices of meat alternatives are still relatively high because the technology still relatively new. But with the current flood of investment and scaled production facilities, prices will drop prices to a point where the animal agriculture industry cannot compete.
When that happens the man in the street will not care that meat is made from plants. He will only care that it tastes the same and it’s cheaper.
When that happens it’s game over for anyone operating in the animal agriculture industry.
That is why we’ve seen traditional meat companies like Nestle, Tyson Foods and Danone opening up their own plant based meat production businesses, facilities and products.
Far out Idea
Here’s a far out idea. Technology has always brought about decentralization and distributed wealth to the masses. Technology has always put the means of production into the hands of the little guy. That means the food technology of plant based meats could enable numerous small groups of people to produce their own food for their own localities. There wouldn’t be a need for mega conglomerates owning our food system and that’s good for everyone.
If meat can be produced in a small factory rather than an expensive large scale farm; then amazing opportunities open up for broad based small business.
No where left to go
There is only so much growth hormone you can inject into animals to fatten them up. There is only so many antibiotics you can dose an animal with to sure up their failing bodies. There is only so many animals you can cram into a cage. There is only so many subsidies the animal agriculture industry can siphon off from tax payers.
The point is this; The animal agriculture industry is well past it’s prime. There are no more efficiencies to be had, and there are more improvements to be made. This is a dead industry still holding on what little it has left. There is no where left for it to go. The economics of the situation dictates that it will fail.
Technology is a disruptor. Just like Uber displaced taxis, just like the car displaced the horse, and just like the computer displaced typists, so too will the animal agriculture industry be displaced by the newer food technologies.
With the economic principle of economies of scale and technology principle of Moore’s law the outcome is blindingly obvious. The plant based industry will vastly improve meat by having better taste, texture and nutritional value; and it will do so at a vastly cheaper cost.
Meanwhile the animal agriculture industry will continue to decline because there is no value, innovation or efficiencies to be had.
All this points to the foregone conclusion, that the world will be Vegan-ish.
And that is the world I’d like to live in very soon.
Photo by Bailey Heedick on Unsplash
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