Environmental impact of synthetic meat and cricket flour
From the votes in so far, over 50% of voters would chose cricket flour over synthetic meat or being vegetarian. But what about the environmental impact?
Well, not surprisingly synthetic meat has lower carbon emissions – synthetic cows don’t fart or poo!
It has less land grab – synthetic cows don’t need to eat grass, walk around or bear offspring.
And it has less than 55% of the energy – you still need to use energy to make the stem cells, to freeze the ‘meat’ pellets of stem cells, to produce the chemicals to encourage growth and energy to create the red dye thats needed to die the meat from its natural synthetic state of white to red to make it look like meat.
So, environmentally synthetic meat is better than real beef. Well, the data suggests it is. But if the average American eats over 100grams of meat a day that’s a hell of a lot of laboratories to replace abattoirs, and no one will want to live next to a meat lab so we will still need to transport the fake meat around as much as we have to transport real meat. Yes, I believe there will be less land grab and less carbon emissions but I don’t see how in mass production the energy will be any different.
What about crickets?
Unfortunately, the data or calculations don’t seem to have been done for insect farming. Maybe, because the farmers are in developing countries and don’t receive loads of money from a Google founders.
But what is out there seems to suggest that the carbon emissions associated with protein from insects was significantly less than cattle or swine. A study from the Netherlands suggests that insect carbon emissions per kg can be as little as 1% of ruminants (cows and sheep).
Insects 1 – Fake Meat 0
I don’t have a lot of scientific data to back this up but I would imagine that the land grab of cricket farming would be less than cattle farming – they are a lot smaller! But would it be as much as the land grab of a fake meat lab? Don’t know so let’s give that one to fake meat.
Insects 1 – Fake Meat 1
Again, I don’t believe any studies have been done to quantify or compare the energy needed to create 1kg of protein from crickets versus 1kg of protein from cows but I can’t imagine the energy or people time used in processing a dead cricket to be anywhere near processing a dead cow.
I am only guessing but I would estimate that the energy needed to farm crickets would be less than the energy needed to grow fake meat – maybe I’m wrong but that’s my guess.
Insects 2 – Fake Meat 1
The final one would be water. Beef production is shocking in how much water is used to produce a kg of beef – insects water footprint is a hell of a lot less. So what would it be for laboratories?
So, farmed insects win on environmental benefits and on a personal choice basis.
What are we waiting for? It’s better for the environment to eat insects rather than cows or sheep.
But wait, it is being suggested that we should grow fake meat to feed our expanding population. Maybe we don’t and won’t have a food shortage?
Food distribution not food shortage
In the BBC article by Prof Tara Garnett, head of the Food Policy Research Network at Oxford University.
“We have a situation where 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight and obese, and at the same time one billion people worldwide go to bed hungry.”
Thanks to Joanne for sending me the article @Joanne_Bradley