The Revolution Has Begun: Beyond Meat

Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century. Most people have a vague feeling that factory farms aren’t quite ethical. But few people are willing to give up meat so such feelings are suppressed because acknowledging them would only make one feel guilty not just. Once the costs of giving up meat fall, however, vegetarianism will spread like a prairie wildfire changing eating habits, the use of farm land, and the science and economics of climate change.

Lab grown or cultured meat is improving but so is the science of veggie burgers. Beyond Meat has sold a very successful frozen “chicken” strip since 2013 and their non-frozen burger patties are just now seeing widespread distribution in the meat aisle at Whole Foods. Beyond Meat extracts protein from peas and then combines it with other vegetable elements under heating, cooling and pressure to realign the proteins in a way that simulates the architecture of beef.

I picked up at two-pack on the weekend. Beyond Meat burgers look and cook like meat. But what about the taste?


The taste is excellent. The burger has a slightly smokey taste, not exactly like beef but like meat. If you had never tasted a buffalo burger before and I told you that this was a buffalo burger you would have no reason to doubt me. A little sauce and salt and pepper and this is a very good-tasting burger not a sacrifice for morality.

The price is currently more than beef, $6 for two patties but that’s Whole Foods expensive not out of reach expensive. I will buy more.

The revolution has begun.


The second picture is the BuzzFeed version. My burger wasn’t quite so artfully arranged but was still delicious and I attest to the overall accuracy.

Addendum: 20 g protein: 6 g carb: 22g fat (5g saturated).


What about all other types of meat-based dishes? Can their taste be reproduced with vegetables elements?

Depends on a lot of factors - you will have a hard time replacing meat stock using vegetable substitutes, for example. Frying is its own fraught area - beef fat has a higher smoking point than any vegetable oil (which is why McDonald's used to use beef tallow for its fries). And obviously, substitutes in general are just that - substitutes, not the original.

As noted below, there is of course no reason not to attempt to duplicate meat as closely as possible, if that is what people want to eat -.liking the taste of beef is not a moral issue . However, as any lover of good Italian cooking knows, you don't need meat to cook lavishly delicious meals.

I think the faux meat is a perfect entree to the faux animal rights brouhaha.

I'm not sure why it needs to be an all-or-nothing affair. Most people don't like factory farming but are okay with what they would consider more humane forms of farming and animal slaughter.

There is a whole market out there of heavily processed, not-very-good meat products that don't put much emphasis on taste. If we can replace all the lower tiers of 'fast food grade' meat products with good tasting, filling, and nutritive foods we'd still be putting a significant dent in the ecological impact of meat-eating as well as the ethical quandaries surrounding it.

There would likely still be some demand for 'real' meat in more specific contexts, like in fancy steakhouses or on special occasions such as Thanksgiving. But I see no reason to be opposed to most of my everyday eating to be vegetable based.

How much would it add to the cost of meat to have it humanely farmed? I mean, I understand that the lives of factory farmed chickens are really awful--how much more would chicken and eggs cost if the chickens were given a better life? Would vegetable-protein-meat-substitutes or vat-grown meat really beat those out?

I wonder if vegetable-protein or vat-grown meat are the natural focal points for everyone to converge to--we can't all agree on what's humane for farming meat (some people think there's no acceptable way of eating meat, others think it's acceptable but don't all agree on what conditions are required), but we can all agree that we don't mind eating plants.

I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals, I'm a vegetarian because I HATE PLANTS

Well, cheaply raised chickens and other meats and the cheap food processing simply requires higher spending on food stamps and EITC that is too small to offset the gdp growth killing cheap food impact.

That you think the drive to cheap everything will not slash your income and job opportunity is your elitist ideology that it's everyone else who deserves less. And you ignore the evidence AI can do a far better job than CEOs, managers, and 90% of professionals.

When everything is made cheap, no money is available to pay any workers - robots send all the money to the remaining few hundred shareholders. As workers become unemployed, they will be forced to sell their stock, so companies will keep buying back shares to prop up share prices, with only a few hundred shareholders ending up owning all the robots.

My eggs cost whatever a bag of chicken feed is every couple of months. We could eat the chickens when they are too old to lay anymore but, we send them to a friend that kills and eats them, and most of them don't live that long due to fox predation.

What would be a "more humane form of animal slaughter"...old age?

I believe slaughterhouses are required to use a mechanism that kills the animals quickly, which is a lot more humane than something that leaves them suffering for a long time.

The cruelty isn't so much how they're killed, but the screwed up way they're treated in factory farms until they're killed.

+1. PavJ, thanks for taking the time to comment intelligently on a topic that invites status signaling. I think you are spot on.

"And obviously, substitutes in general are just that – substitutes, not the original."

What matters is will people care that the substitute is not the original? A lot of food products contained cane sugar, but then substituted that with corn syrup. Given the billions in sales of those products, I don't think swapping out ingredients really bothered people or stopped the products from selling well or from people enjoying them and buying them over and over.

Likewise, how many Americans can tell when their 'extra virgin olive oil from Italy' is not from Italy, not extra virgin, or not even 100% olive oil? (That presents a false advertising issue, but point is that people often don't mind or even notice when they are not consuming what they originally thought they were when it tastes the same to them).

I think we have found the perfect counter-argument - p-t and mulp are vegetarian.

If Nathan is as well, I think it is time for a Constitutional amendment mandating meat consumption. Think of it as a tax.

"Small steps toward a much better world" according to whom? I thought this was supposed to be a Libertarian point of view? I choose meat and am not ashamed or guilty to admit it. I think a better world would have you improving your character rather than "changing to world" to suit your personal beliefs.

According to whom ? All philosophers maybe ?

Libertarians defend the NAP. And killing non-humain animals (who are sentient animals like we do) is contrary to the NAP. It's that simple...

'Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century.'
Assuming the alt right has any sense of its historical roots, that is.

'Most people have a vague feeling that factory farms aren’t quite ethical.'
Strangely, most of those people are also opposed to GMOs (especially in places like Europe), almost as if they see a problem in food production that is something larger than factory farming alone.

'Beyond Meat burgers look and cook like meat.'
Ersatz meat - using ingredients that cost a fraction of meat, and yet sold for something above the price as meat. Generally, and extremely simplified, meat requires something on the order of 10x the amount of plant material to produce - that is (again extremely simplified), it takes 10 lbs of soy to produce 1 lb of beef. Yet strangely, a soy burger costs the same, almost as if there was some sort of thumb on the scale keeping things unchanged.

One should note that the Buddhists are a few thousand years ahead of this, though admittedly, the best Buddhist mock meat tends to be poultry related. However, the Buddhists seem to share a similar belief in terms of taste and texture needing not be 'a sacrifice for morality.'

"Yet strangely, a soy burger costs the same."

You think it strange that cows are paid less than humans for processing soy beans?

Beans processed in a lab produce 5 times or more meat-like-food than chickens which are the most efficient. You must pay the machine builders and operators more than you pay for the beans that get wasted feeding them to animals.

GMOs merely extract cash from farmers and taxpayers while not increasing food production, which before GMOs was in so much excess government was intervening to cut production or find inefficient ways to consume the excess with government subsidies.

GMOs are just one of multiple unsustainable methods of farming with less labor, so the farm subsidies also require welfare benefits for workers who have much less income as a result of the unsustainable farming to enable them to buy food.

I find it ironic that only the rich can live on the traditional family farm and raise their own food because millions have been forced off the farms into poverty so the food can be cheap, with the claim that people who had little income because they grew their own food need cheap food to buy because the earn so little income now they have been forced off the farm. After all, once food has been made cheap, everything else must be made cheap by getting rid of workers and making them poorer.

Yes, we need to farm in more labor intensive ways so that there is more work for farmers and food is more expensive.
All these labor-saving "improvements" are bad for us.


‘Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century.’

My guess is that much bigger issues will arise between now and 2100...

vegetables rights will be the big social revolution of the 22nd century.

I got just far enough into the planzefreund article to see Siegfried Schwachkopf; literal translation--weak head--no need to read further.

I suggest a new organization: PET-P (People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants).

Peope for the Ethical Treatment of Plants, Echinioderms, Eucaryots, and Various Ectoplams: PET-PEEVE.

Yeah, that's a good guess.

I wonder if vegans or vegetarians will partake of lab-grown meat and convincing fake stuff. For some percentage of these people, not eating meat was never really about animal rights. It had, I think, more to do with maintaining one's Purity of Essence and not corrupting bodily fluids (or something like that), virtue/status signalling, and maybe some qausi-mysticism and Jonathan Haidt-style six-foundations moralizing thrown in.

I'll be curious to see what percentage that turns out to be.

Among those who opt out of lab meats, I think there are quite a lot who will do so for reasons other than the ones you suggest.

There are probably even worse reasons out there than the ones I mentioned, so I suppose that's at least plausible.

Most of the ones who are not doing it for ethical reasons are doing it for what they perceive to be health reasons.

Yeah, probably true, but I would file that under the Purity Of Essence or quasi-mysticism categories, as I suspect most of their perceptions of the health benefits are simply wrong.

I don't think that's a legitimate move - just because the underlying belief is wrong doesn't mean the motivation is really about something else. Motivation springs from belief, not fact. If I believe that this glass of kerosene in front of me is really a gin and tonic, and I want to drink it, it's just incorrect to say that I *really* have a desire to drink kerosene.

You're right, actually, but only up to a point. Much of the thinking about health, food, and meat amongst the Veganoid set is so detached from any sort of established set of facts that it's difficult to take at face value. For example, what does the medical literature say about the health impact of abstaining entirely from animal products? The picture is, to put it charitably, mixed, at best.

Sure. No better or worse than paleo, raw enthusiasts, ultra low-carb folk etc. in my view. Lots of cross-over between all of those groups obviously. There are plenty of ways in which people can develop pseudo-scientific beliefs about nutrition and there are pockets of the internet to fuel that. I think that ideologues are pretty evenly distributed by gender, race, religion, dietary preference, political inclination.

Some vegans seem to be driven by a need to believe that veganism is optimally healthy. I think the science supports the view that there is no optimally healthy diet - there are many ways to be healthy and a balanced vegan diet is one of them. As far as I'm aware there aren't any major dietetics peak groups left that advocate *against* vegan diets.

I also note that veganism is about more than diet - vegans (as I use that term) abstain from buying new leather, wool, using products that contain animal products etc.

I just don't like the taste of meat. It makes me gag. Obviously I will not be part of the market for meat substitutes, which will attempt to emulate a food I don't like in the first place.

in what century, bacterial rights will be the big social revolution ?

And black people rights will be the big social revolution of the 23rd century.
Oh, wait. It already happened...

That's so stupid to compare plants to animals (and humans are animals by the way)...

Agreed, tastes like "meat". Hopefully full veganism vs vegetarian will take over mindsets as meat and leather seats from factory farms are bad but just as heinous are dishes with unknown origin butter or cheese on a quick slice of pizza which as you point out easier to not to think about.

Are dairy cows very mistreated?

That's not the primary issue, its geletin (sp?) used in the process

No, it's rennet made from lamb intestines. It's baaaaad.

The male ones are.


It's also so unnatural - Cows don't just make milk. First they have to be impregnated, and the baby calf taken away after birth so that we can have the milk intended for the calf.

not a vegetarian, but i get their point.

Most calf's from milking cow are not smart enough to drink on their own. There for they would probably die if the farmer didn't take care of them

Do you honestly think baby calves are too stupid to want their mothers milk, or that it's even a question of intelligence rather than instinct? They wouldn't die if the farmer didn't take care of them - they'd be with their mothers.

Baby calves do want their mothers milk. They can't always figure out how to get it in time to stay alive

Following this line of thinking we will moralize ourselves out of existance by doing the "right" things long before we can exterimate ourselves by doing the "wrong" things. One can only hope

There's no need to feel so defensive. You probably wouldn't respond like this to someone saying "it would help the environment if we polluted a little less".

“it would help the environment if we polluted a little less”

People have been responding defensively to this suggestion for quite some time.

Yes. All ethical and environmentally responsible improvements are steps toward the slippery slope of moralizing ourselves out of existence. In fact, the right thing to do is kick a stray dog and dump some dirty motor oil in your local lake to make sure of our place in the universe.

First they came for our meats, then they came for our vegetables. Vegetable (i.e., plants) rights have supporters too. Vegetables? Yes, vegetables (plants) have feelings. At least that's what an increasing number of folks believe. Of course, not everyone believes plants have feelings. Indeed, there's a popular movement in the opposite direction, folks who not only don't believe plants have feelings, they don't even believe people have feelings. Donald Trump is the leader of the movement.

If it were true that plants have feelings, then vegetarianism is still the moral option - we grow and "kill" enough plants to feed 11 billion people, but instead we feed it to animals which we then eat. Vegetarianism saves animals and plants.

No, the "revolution in meat" is to cull the urban deer, take advantage of natural surplus. All natural free-range no-hormone browser fed suburban deer are lean and tasty.

Much lower carbon footprint too - compared to those veggies born in an urban industrialized farm that would not exist without fossil fuels.

Widespread vegetarianism will never be a thing to feed humans, it's too energy expensive. Ruminants like deer and cows take indigestible cellulose and turn it into food for humans extremely efficiently. Land that cannot be farmed can be used for pasture. Corn, soy, and wheat farming would not exist without the oil and gas in the fertilizer and tractors. There is a lot more indigestible cellulose in the world than there is corn and soy, and cows conveniently convert it to nutrition. Vegetarianism might become a thing when humans are built the same way, which will require some bioengineering.

Vegetarianism is just another pipe dream of feckless urban liberals who think nutrition comes in little packages at the grocery store.

"Widespread vegetarianism will never be a thing to feed humans, it’s too energy expensive."

You have this exactly backwards. See Pimentel, "Food, Energy, and Society". There are other sources for this info, that's the definitive one.

I actually agree. There's a growing foraging movement, urban-culled venison is just the next step.
Plus, it is ethical. A deer gets to live his life free of confinement. If anything more ethical than "free range" since the deer even gets a chance to escape. I know tons of hipsters who would be *SO* down with harvesting local deer and making exotic cured meats and serving it at local restaurants.

If anything vegetarianism is actually about to hit a decline. Given the popularity of low carb diets, I see lots of people out there who are realizing that a diet high in protiens and low in carbs is healthier, and that is very, very, hard to do on a vegetarian diet. Also note the increasing popularity of bone broth as a health food. The health nuts of the next generation are NOT vegetarian!

Heh. I'll take that bet Hazel.

Personally, I eat meat. But I also recognize the externalities of meat production, which is why I eat meat from this farm:

However, predicting a decline of vegetarianism, when investments in meatless "meat" are ramping up dramatically is making a claim that those investments (thousands of them) are not going to pan out. That isn't going to happen (in total). Vegan meat will become a fantastic product and the price will go down - the market is just too damn big for the entrepreneurs to ignore.

Also, veganism and vegetarianism have been on the rise of late. The trends are not predicting a top.

Also, veganism and vegetarianism have been on the rise of late.

There is a con tinuing perception that they are on the rise, but there are actually not. I linked to gallup polling below which shows vegetarianism has held stead at 5-6% of the population for the last 17 years.

"and that is very, very, hard to do on a vegetarian diet."

What? Only for the uninformed. Seitan has 20g of protein per serving. Tofu and tempeh are also good protein sources. Quinoa has 8+g of complete protein per cup, but amaranth, kamut, spelt and a couple others have even more. Nuts, obviously, are high in protein. Legumes are also rich protein sources -- a 1/2 cup of edamame has 11g. It's actually surprisingly easy to get enough protein without meat. And those are just the vegan protein sources. Vegetarians can add things like greek yogurt for a easy protein boost.

Given the growing availability of meatless options in both grocery stores and restaurants, I highly doubt vegetarianism or veganism are on the decline. However, I don't think they're exactly booming either. But things like the Meatless Monday movement, Forks Over Knives, and also high-profile figures such as Mark Bittman have increased awareness and a willingness to put more meatless foods into rotation in the diets of average, omnivore families and individuals. So, more vegetarians? Maybe/maybe not. But more meatless food being prepared in America's kitchens? I think it's safe to say yes.

"Widespread vegetarianism will never be a thing to feed humans, it’s too energy expensive."

It's worth repeating that this is precisely incorrect. Unless specifically on the subject of how to use grass to make food.

There are 71,000 calories in a (100 lb of meat) deer that takes 2 hrs to hunt, kill and prepare.

That's almost 1000 pounds of lettuce. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems it would take longer than 2 hrs to pick that much greenery. I'd listen to how I'm mistaken.

How long do you think it would take to depopulate the planet of deer if people were to switch to deer for all their protein?

A more reasonable comparison is energy, water, effort, etc., associated with producing 1000 pounds of balanced protein from legumes and other plant materials as compared to 1000 pounds of protein from an industrial meat-production process.

That generally involves feeding protein (and other stuff) to animals first, and during their months or year of adding animal protein, they exude a lot of heat and energy. Which should make it easy to understand how it can be that plant protein takes less energy per unit of protein consumption by humans compared to the amount of energy per unit of protein consumption by humans after having gone through an energy-intensive transformation process.

1- you cannot produce enough vegetables, corn, legumes etc to feed the planet without fossil-fuel energy intensive farming.
2- Cows, deer, and other ruminants take hay, grass, and other plant material which we cannot eat and turn it into protein. Chickens and pigs eat scraps. Animals can graze on land that cannot be farmed. Butchering an animal is much less energy intensive than harvesting thousands of pounds of lettuce.

For most of history, humans have been starving. If vegetarianism was practical and less energy intensive, we would already be doing it.

@dwb - if we only ate grass/hay-fed meat, there would be much less of it and demand would drive its price much higher. The corn and soy (and thus, land and fertilizer) inputs are large, and we'd get that same amount of protein more efficiently from plants (legumes, nuts, probably others but I am not a vegetarian myself so I don't pay careful attention). Go read Pimentel.

Perhaps it's just an interim step but there's no reason a meat "substitute" should taste like meat at all. In the future, when vegetarians have taken over the world, people will have no idea what meat tastes like, having never eaten it. No similarity required. Like smokers of the present, future human carnivores will be shunned, discriminated and legislated against, at least in the wacky moral milieu developing around us today. That will give the veggie people an even greater sense of superiority. Save the gay, baby whales!

I hope so many people don't get off being judgmental (expletives), but if there are tasty alternatives I don't see why anyone should be eating factory meat under most existing conditions ...

"Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century." Do you mean that animals will acquire rights? That people will begin to acknowledge that they have rights? What exactly is a right and where does it come from?

Is there some self-evident truth that animals have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? If so, why has this truth not been self-evident in any human society or era? Is it because the Creator granted them rights? If so, who is the prophet who transmitted this message? Are rights based on some model of reciprocity? If so, what are the obligations that animals owe me in return for the rights I grant them? Is it because of the categorical imperative? Kant certainly did not believe that this imperative applies to animals.

Do animals have the right not to be wiped out as a species, as domesticated animals grown for meat presumably would if we stopped eating them?

Do animals feel guilty when they eat other animals? Should they?

I was always very uncomfortable with the discourse of rights being applied to animals, perhaps Alex could answer some of these questions and assuage my discomfort.

If so, why has this truth not been self-evident in any human society or era?

Hindu Bramins. But you knew that...

I may be mistaken, but growing up in India, I felt that the reasoning for vegetarianism was more regarding the cleanliness/uncleanliness of the slaughter process. The cow was considered sacred because of milk and the utility of the males in farming. But there was not much involved discourse into their rights or feelings.

Cleanliness / purity was a part of the argument.

However Ahimsa (non violence) was always an equally strong argument.

It was not argued in terms of "rights". But it was not considered / is not considered proper to hurt sentient living things

I think the ahimsa aspect came from Buddhism and later absorbed into Hinduism, like most of the non violent stuff in Hinduism. Brahminism is and has always been a very violent, racist, sexist creed.

The comment that you are making is a racist comment ironically.

Ahimsa finds mention Chandogya Upanisad (which probably predates the Buddha). Gets discussed in Mahabharata, Upanisads, Dharmasastras, Manu Smriti, and yes, the Vedas too.

Many of these texts pre-date Buddhism (if not Buddha). Some pre-date Buddha too. A few of them show a buddhist influence and are clearly post Buddha.

But to say that Hinduism has nothing to say about Ahimsa prior to Buddha is ridiculous. Today Hinduism is the only major religion (along with Jainism) which recommends and encourages vegetarianism. Not Buddhism! Most Buddhists are glad to eat meat.

If Indian Hindu culture is the best argumet you have to that effect, you would seem to have no argument at all, considering only an estimated 20-30% of Hindus are entirely vegetarian, per Wikipedia (with citations). And it remains to be seen how well that number stands up as meat becomes more plentifully available to lower socioeconomic classes (vegetarianism is pretty easy when meat is functionally unavailable, after all).

On the contrary , the lower socioeconomic classes in India are not vegetarian.

30% benig vegetarian is a HUGE HUGE number. That's a population of nearly 400MM! Larger than US population.

And even among the remaining 70%, a big majority eat meat occasionally - a once or twice a week indulgence. Not a staple food for most.

And no. It's not just about affordability. There is clearly a cultural preference against meat across ALL sections of society. And infact across castes too.

This guy has no idea what he's talking about. Peasant castes in India like the Jats, the Marathas, the Gouds and the Lingayats are huge consumers of meat, the only constraint being price of meat. Speak for yourself, Brahmin /bania boy.

In a state like Haryana, significant proportions of peasant class are vegetarian. Same holds for Rajasthan and Punjab. Most estimates place vegetarian proportion upwards of 50-60% in Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.

Lingayats are vegetarian for the most part.

You're displaying an emotional, defensive reaction. Do you actually want to know the answers? Ever read a book about the philosophy behind things like animal rights or animal welfare?

Actually yes. I far prefer to watch animal rights in action when a carnivore catches a meal. I have stared into the eyes of an owl in the wild who was deciding whether I was a suitable meal or not.

Taste like chicken.

Yes, anon, I do want to know the answers. I particularly want to know what approach AT adopts. I have indeed read widely about the philosophy behind animal rights, I have also heard the topic discussed in ethics conferences, and I have always found the arguments extremely weak and unconvincing. My questions were carefully worded to address the specific weaknesses I have always discerned in the rights discourse.

Animal welfare is a distinct question which Alex did not address. Most religions have strictures regarding this, as do many well-established philosophies of ethics. Kant asserted an ethical responsibility not to cause unnecessary animal suffering but he did not consider animals to have rights.

And animals have the right to vote & everyone knows (or at least all smart people) that animals are straight party line democrat voters!

Only donkeys, though.

Other questions:

(1) In what sense is meat eating a choice rather than an instinct that one is born with, but homosexuality is something that one is born with rather than a choice? Is trying to convert a meat eater into a vegetarian or vegan an immoral act of carnivophobic bigotry?

(2) At a time of rising inequality, what are the moral implications when wealthy elites raise food prices for the poor by outlawing or restricting factory farming? Why do we only analyze distributional impact of tax cuts but not regulations?

(3) What is the basis for elevating the religion of Animal Rights, or the related religion of Environmentalism, above other religions like Christianity and Judaism?

(1) Most ethics would evaluate various behaviors on the basis of harm, independent of instincts. Rape, murder and violence in general may be instinctive, but civilization works to suppress/sublimate those instincts because of the harms they cause. There have been arguments in the past that homosexuality caused harm to others, but it seems now that the majority believes there is not enough harm (if any) to justify continued suppression.

(2) There is an appealing underlying argument here. Free trade advocates regularly point to the low prices of Walmart (or Microsoft) as providing more consumer surplus than protectionist or (some) anti-monopoly policies. This blog certainly is a place where you'll hear about research that examines the impacts of regulations or of unexpected effects on the poor from well-meaning (elitist) policy.

(3) It would be difficult to answer this without a definition of religion. It supposes that Animal Rights is a religion, rather than perhaps a set of preferences derived from bayesian beliefs updated through memes and experience. Environmentalism aligns with some ideas of pantheism, but that does not render suggested policies invalid. Many religions condemn murder; a person who is against murder is not then assignable to any one religion.

" the majority believes there is not enough harm (if any) to justify continued suppression."

I must have been out camping when they took a vote on that.

> I must have been out camping when they took a vote on that.

The outcome not decided by one vote, so rest at ease.

Most ethics would evaluate various behaviors on the basis of harm, independent of instincts

"Most ethics"??? Did you do a survey? Does the number of adherents count eg. do John Rawls and the Old Testament each get one vote?

Also: who gets to decide what constitutes "harm"? My children are being harmed by the coarseness of society and particularly the media.

It would be difficult to answer this without a definition of religion.

Here is a simple definition of religion: your religion is your guiding and fundamental set of assumptions, the beliefs that you get angry to hear contradicted even though you cannot prove them.

So clearly environmentalism is a religion.

I too believe that words should be defined in the way that most clearly undermines the beliefs I disagree with.

"Do animals have the right not to be wiped out as a species, as domesticated animals grown for meat presumably would if we stopped eating them?"

Remember Henry George: "Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens; but the more jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens."

Animal Rights are not codified but are already a litigated concept - one activist judge ruling in their favor will set precedent and allow further expansion:

If there's no need for animals to suffer, and many people get value out of the existence of nature, animals, and its/their having an OK existence (at least not adding to whatever hardships their environment otherwise holds), then ... why add to it?

For example, without taking a position on the existing situation, let's say that there was a lab meat and "natural"meat (of course, probably not hormone free, etc.) that people couldn't tell the difference between, I would hope that if it was known that the living conditions of the animals were negative, that at a bare minimum, for identical price, most people would prefer the "less suffering" option if it was posed that way.

Now, I think there will also be a lot of people who are just weird out by the idea of lab meat, and in fact would prefer it even in acknowledgement that a "less suffering" option, all else equal, is better.

But this reconstituting plant materials as opposed to growing lab meat ... much different story.

If animals have rights are we obligated to defend the deer from the cougar, the mouse from the owl?

The animal kingdom is a daily parade of pain and death.

Is the line of morality to be drawn at the cow and the chicken.

Cougars do not keep their dinner in a cage where dinner can barely move for months or years on end.

They would if they could. Much easier to catch and kill that way.

Most animal rights thinkers seem to agree that the right to autonomy would be the keystone right so no, there would not be a moral obligation to defend the mouse from the owl.

The "human kingdom" is a daily parade of pain and deal. This is precisely the reason why it is a subject of moral concern.

That burger would be better with bacon. :-)

After all its small steps toward a much better world.

Organic free-range fair-trade bacon, please.

Dude, if I'm going to eat some vegetables that have been processed to taste like beef, I'm going to have a cow, not a bunch of chemists, do the processing for me.


No one turns vegetation into meat quite like an animal.

So old fashioned. You don't think entrepreneurs can deliver a similar product for a lower price without all that shit running through a cow? If so, you're pessimistic of our young scientists and entrepreneurial community.

Also, most people have incredibly insensitive taste buds and wouldn't know a good steak or burger from a shitty one.

Eating less meat is as good as drinking less beer and wine. Moderation is welcome, but quitting? Why?

US red meat per capita consumption is around 70 pounds per year. What about having the objective of eating half of it? If you eat a delicious beef cut of 1 pound once per week, you would be eating 75% of the average per capita consumption. Lots of pleasure and still bringing down the average. 1 pound of meat every two weeks and consumption goes down by 60+ %.

The issue here is that people eats a lot of meat without making the most of the experience. Frozen microwave food is a waste of meat: no flavor, no pleasure and intensive farming for this cheap kind of food. It would be interesting to know what fraction of meat is consumed in the way of microwave lasagna, fast or cafeteria food, instead of deliciously home cooked meat.


Should we call it being "marginally vegetarian?"

Why quitting killing animals ?
Because it's wrong. Like killing humans. It's as simple as that.

And I say, I want real meat, not pea-meat (although peas are delicious on their own right). As a famour Brazilian native warrior said when a European prisoner told him he should not eat him because men should not eat men,“I am not a man, I am a jaguar.” Jaguars eat real meat.

Which is why we now have to go to zoos to see jaguars - and to museums to see Brazillian warriors.

Go to any Brazilian street, and you will see Brazilian warriors. Every Brazilian is a warrior and, deep down, every warrior is a Brazilian. And there are jaguars (onças-pintadas running free in Brazilian forests)

There are a few jaguars left in Brazil, as well as in Central America, Mexico and the US (about 15,000 in the World, total). Maybe those Brazilian warriors you are talking about are the police?

Check your virtue signaling, Alex.

Not allowed to do good stuff.

Especially not allowed to talk about it.

God forbid someone fall upon a more efficient or more "good" way of doing things (in their opinion), adopt that practice, and then on occasion drop something about the existence of such a way of thinking.

The virtue signalling is cloying.

Might it be that you recognize something is better, but rather than consider that it is not the same as what you presently do and that you could sometimes think about doing that other way too, you lash out against the person(s) who made you aware of or reminded you of some ethical suboptimality of a situation.

Are you being preached at daily or more often? Or ... did you take special interest in the subject to demean those whose other way of doing things makes you feel some kind of way you don't like.

Vegetarianism is soooo lame. You'd be such a loser even to order an obviously meat-free option (fish even?) at a restaurant or people will think you're gay or vegetarian or something ... Don't be a gay loser. Eat meat.

Casually dropping "virtue signalling" is still virtue signalling. Stop being such a hipster.

Plant based meat substitutes are universally more expensive than meat. For that matter, soy and nut based milk substitutes are more expensive than milk. If the primary advantage of these products is their lower environmental cost, why are they so expensive? Economy of scale (I thought soy was produced at huge scales)? Rent seeking? A guilt-free premium? Some animal product subsidies? I think these substitutes will really take off when their market price is commensurate with their supposed low production cost.

Who said high environmental cost has anything to do with high money cost? If it were so, higher environmental cost methods of production woukdn't be used. If, suppose, burning coal is cheaper than nuclear energy, it doesn't mean it is better for the environment (after all, the owner of the means of the production gets all the profit, pays all the costs out of ernings, but pays only a modest part of environmental costs, if any)

Obviously, environmental costs don't equal economic costs; dumping waste in the ocean is cheaper than treating it, etc. But with meat costs, the environmental costs map pretty well with the production costs. Fertilizing and growing corn or grass, transporting it, building huge factory cattle yards, raising the cattle, slaughtering them, preserving the meat and rushing it to market. All that has enormous resource costs, and pretty high economic costs too. Versus, I don't know, peas? Soybeans? A bean burger really should be incredibly cheap. But go to any restaurant. Hamburger: $8. Bean burger: Within a dollar of the hamburger cost. Is it just unpriced externalities?

I just don't see how soy milk is more than cow milk. You don't have to hire a vet to immunize soy beans.

I guess to treat vegetable protein to taste and look like animal protein is not necessarily cheap. The cow did the whole job (I know, it is not free, but it still is cheaper than cultivating meat at the lab, so there is it -- don't understimate the beings' lab). But evidently if they couldn't get away charing those prices, they wouldn't -- so I don't know what is costs and what is profit. My guess is it is mostly the costs.

These cost about the same as my grass-fed and finished bison meat (assuming 1/4 lb patties)

I would like to second the question of why the supermarket price of these burgers is more than the price of ground beef you find at Wal-Mart. I don't want sanctimonious answers from environmentalists about externalities not paid by producers, but rather a real response as to why the costs incurred by the producers of these products differ in a manner which is unexpected. At the very least, I would expect that growing plants and processing them into foodstuff should be less expensive than growing plants, feeding them to livestock, tending the livestock, and butchering the livestock. In general, I believe that it is less expensive, so long as the goal is not to produce vegetable based foodstuff that imitates meat. What is it about the process of trying to make plant based foodstuff taste like meat that makes it more expensive than pasta, potato chips, and tofu? What makes it more expensive than beef itself?

My guess is that a lot of the explanation will have to do with economies of scale. We produce a *lot* of beef and have spent many years optimizing the hell out of the process of getting from a cow to a hamburger.

A good place to confirm this is Indonesia: tempeh is produced at a large scale and so is meat—tempeh is obviously much cheaper than meat there.

Also (in Europe at least): subsidies. Meat, dairy and grain are heavily subsidized. Pulse is not.

"I would expect that growing plants and processing them into foodstuff should be less expensive than growing plants, feeding them to livestock, tending the livestock, and butchering the livestock. "

Have you read about the costs? Or is this just another example of mood affiliation?

I haven't spent too much time searching, but I have done a little searching and wasn't able to find enough information on Beyond Meat's production process (and other costs) to be able to generate an educated guess as to why their prices are higher than typical beef process. I was asking specifically because I can't find info about Beyond Meat's costs. The question isn't just why Beyond Meat is more expensive than beef, but also why it is so much more expensive than other plant based processed food products. Perhaps it is just economy of scale, or perhaps there is a lot more processing involved in trying to get the right combination of plant proteins and fats to have a taste and texture similar to meat. I suspect it is a bit of both, but I am kinda of hoping that someone reading the comments will have the knowledge and inclination to post a response as to what the actual process is of trying to make plant based foodstuff taste like meat, and how that process adds costs that aren't present with actual meat or other plant based foodstuff like bread, bean based veggie burgers, etc.

I read an article about Impossible Foods, and the Impossible Foods person quoted in the article seemed to think that the artificial flavors would be the single most expensive ingredient in most of this stuff. Impossible Foods was also using textured wheat protein, which is a process which presumably would at least add some cost to the burger if used by Beyond Meat (vs. just selling, or grinding it up and baking it, etc.) How much cost these things would add, I am not sure, but I have a little better sense of what may be going on in the making of these meatless burgers.

Or perhaps their margins are huge (the cost of risk-taking/entrepreneurship).

What the market will bear :)

If actual quarter-pound beef burger patties (let's posit some pretty nice ones) cost $5 each, and you want something that is equivalent-but-better from your own viewpoint*, the cost of production is a limiting factor but I think not the most salient one. The cost of the alternate gives a cue about what people might be willing to pay, either reluctantly ("I guess this is kinda like the thing I want, so I'll groan a bit but pay $4.50 for the veggie version") or happily ("Whoah! I can get the non-animal version that tastes pretty darn good for only $5.50!").

Plus, Yeah, economies of scale, fixed costs, etc.

* Whatever factors go into that viewpoint ... taste / morals / curiosity / signalling :)

Precisely; these meat substitutes are more expensive than real meat.

So their quality is, at best, something close to that of real meat. Usually it's lower. And the price is higher.

And Alex is predicting that the revolution has begun?

I eat meatless probably 4 days out of 7, so it's not as if I'm a raging carnivore. But these vegetarian/vegan predictions of upcoming revolution have an apocalyptic flavor, and as long as these meat substitutes continue to have higher prices and weaker or at best equal flavor, the market will continue to rule in favor of real meat. I'm surprised that Alex is trying to argue against market forces.

Yes, but _why_ is the price higher for meat substitutes? Because no one wants them? Lower demand would mean _lower_ prices, I'd think. We can't expect high demand to drive the price down, unless there are huge scale economies that are unrealized. With experimental veg protein patties like this, sure, that's possible, it's experimental, after all. They're still learning.

But soy milk? Bean patties? Those are things already produced at huge scales. Why aren't they super cheap? Physics says soy should be easier to make into milk, directly, than corn fed to a cow and rebounded into milk. Perhaps by an order of magnitude. And soy milk can be kept longer than cow milk. Store brand milk is about $2.15 per gallon. Soy milk (Silk brand), at my grocery store, is $3.49 per HALF gallon. More than three times the price, for something than should be 1/10 the price! And I see the same thing with the bean and veggie burgers.

Saying the market will bear the high prices is like saying "obviously computers should cost $50,000, that's what big businesses are willing to pay for them." That was not the winning strategy, once it became clear that computers could get cheaper. Really, for soybeans, the ground's the limit on the price. Or so I'd think... but I'm obviously wrong so what's the market up to?

"Yes, but _why_ is the price higher for meat substitutes?"

Presumably because the cost is higher. Unless someone has some evidence for collusion or cartel behavior, the reasonable assumption is that the prices are fairly close to the costs.

And then the next question is, given those high prices why does anyone buy the meat substitutes?

There are two parts to the answer. (a) They don't. The quantity is meat substitutes being sold is a small fraction of the quantity of real meat in the US. Less than a billion dollars for meat substitute compared to $198B for real meat.

It's not even Econ 101, it's common sense: who would buy an inferior product that has a higher price? Not very many people, but see (b) below.

(b) For those few people who are buying meat substitutes, why are they doing it instead of buying real meat?

Most commonly, because they're vegetarians. Who else would pay more to buy an inferior product, unless they had to or felt a moral obligation to? Or are the occasional experimenter or visitor; e.g. I'll go to vegetarian restaurants maybe 2-4 times per year.

What's the protein:carb:fat ratio for these patties?

20 g protein: 6 g carb: 22g fat (5g saturated).

God, I miss Julia Child. I recall one show, when she shared the kitchen with Jacques Pepin, devoted entirely to the hamburger. The simple hamburger. Well, it wasn't so simple. But it was all meat, and then some. Lots of butter too. My father was a chef, so everyone in my family has been something of a foodie. I suppose it's the difference between living to eat and eating to live. Even though my father was a chef (he's been dead 50 years), he wasn't fat at all. Neither was my mother. I guess it's partly the lifestyle (active), but also the foundation for us as Episcopaleans: moderation. Yes, moderation, that's the key to a happy life, and to a slim figure and healthy heart. I have never considered (much less knew) the fat and carbohydrate content of what I prepare. Julia didn't either. God, I miss her. Add more butter.

So 6g of carbs? If this catches on the obesity epidemic is getting worse. We're all doomed. Not to mention how dangerous vegetable fats are to heart health in comparison to animal fats.

> Not to mention how dangerous vegetable fats are to heart health in comparison to animal fats

Olive, coconut, walnut? Or soy and corn?

I have been a vegetarian for forty years, it`s about time we had something better than Quorn

I never get tired of bacon. I've tried. Many foods taste delicious at first but after eating them regularly for awhile - bleah. It's difficult to fool the food preference learning system for very long. As for animal welfare I wonder if generation snowflake will be moving toward vegetarianism almost entirely for reasons of general squeamishness.

“As for animal welfare I wonder if generation snowflake will be moving toward vegetarianism almost entirely for reasons of general squeamishness.”, i.e. haaving more of moral sense than you have.

For some ideas on distinguishing squeamishness from morality try reading some Steven Pinker or Paul Bloom. There's a nice discussion online from 2008 at The American Scene titled Morality and Fallibility you might find interesting, about Pinker's writings back then.

I already know the difference, thank you.

Or, y'know, an actual moral philosopher...

Try eating breakfast on a low carb diet for a few months. You'll get tired of bacon.

And millenials are not becoming more vegetarianism. The hip trends are towards eating fancy cured meat and bone broth.

350% growth in the past decade? Hazel, where are you coming up with this nonsense? I suspect you're posting what you *want* to be true, not what is.

Because the things teenagers are into are life long decisions and not, like, fads, and stuff.

Hazel, are you high on the pot right now? You commented on millennials and I posted an article about them. And then you reply with a critique about their decision making?

Do teenagers today count as millenials? I thought millenials were in the 20-30 age range by now.

Completely anecdotal, but I had a few vegetarian/vegan friends in my social circle once upon a time. They gave it up when they had kids, though. Too hard, I guess.

"Try eating breakfast on a low carb diet for a few months. You’ll get tired of bacon."

It's so cute when people tell you what you will think. I've been eating low-carb since 2009. Keeps me effortlessly slim. I wake up every day at 5 a.m. to write. What gets me out of bed? The joy of three strips of crisp, greasy bacon.

Having to eat bacon for breakfast isn't my idea of "effortless".

(I've got nothing against bacon in general, but having it for breakfast is just wrong.)

"As for animal welfare I wonder if generation snowflake will be moving toward vegetarianism almost entirely for reasons of general squeamishness."

I think some are motivated by the reduced carbon footprint - for those that believe climate change isn't a hoax invented by China. I'd love to see actual data on why people go veg.

Plenty of notable figures before millennials went veg for different reasons - Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Cesar Chavez, Coretta Scott King, Jeremy Bentham, Leonardo da Vinci.

The Jains,Ramanujan, Hitler, my uncle, my grandmother..

Gen snowflake party this weekend: we had strip loin roast. Cause cows are delicious.

So Alex feels that it's morally necessary to suppress meat-eating - which humans are naturally inclined to, and which is actually biologically necessary to maintain good health.

Whereas if a religious person feels that it's morally necessary to temper or in some cases suppress other natural inclinations, it's somehow objectionable??

You're reading things that aren't there - Alex never called for the suppression of meat eating.

He just said that he ate a tasty veggieburger, and that as market prices fall other people would as well.

”Whereas if a religious person feels that it’s morally necessary to temper or in some cases suppress other natural inclinations, it’s somehow objectionable??”

Really? Which and whose natural inclinations are those creligious” people trying to suppress (I somehow doubt it is greed and violence)? By which means? I think we already know the answers, don't we?This was a very instructive year regarding what “religious” people want in America (if some years ago someone had said Trump would be embraced by the Religious Right, people would have laughed) And, if meat-eating were “actually biologically necessary to maintain good health”, as corporate chills like to say, my grandmother wouldn't have lived to reach her 90 th birthdy.

Not allowed to sometimes suggest the possibility of a morally better option, for fear that this may be traumatizing to the psychology of the people in the other position.

If their actions are causing suffering, we must remain quiet, for fear of what suffering this might cause to the people causing the suffering through their market choices.

(P.S. - that's only directed towards people who would put it kind of like how he did. Sanctimonius (expletives) are a pain in the butt.)

When I look at a cow,

I now see

A soybean.

You're quite wrong - this "revolution" supposedly took place quite a while ago, and you could have written very much this same article in 2002. Which is so long ago that people still used the term "global warming."

There has been plenty of faux-meat out there for a long time. It ranges between awful and not bad. The common denominator is very high price. And what you, and people like you, have been saying for 15 years is: "it will improve!!"

Which is the food-version perennial of "we only have 5 years to save the climate!!"

But hey, I am glad you feel better about yourself.

"Which is so long ago that people still used the term “global warming"
And Republicans thought deficitis don't matter. It is world much different from 2016 and more like, say, 2017..

In the early 1970s the Barnard dining hall was experimenting on us with faux meat. They called it textured vegetable protein and it ranged from unobjectionable to quite good.

Barnard College?

Joan Rivers alma mater, yes

Did they use only one dining hall, right?

One that I was aware of. Not that big, seated several hundred. Never had to wait for a seat, but often had to look for one.

My first college had only one dining hall. I was shocked when I went to study at a acollege with two.

I found a place that gave me allI could eat, while surrounded by women my age, for $2.00. I looked no further.

I see. In this crazy word, even “a nice warm trap with a piece of cheese in it, would suit me down to the ground.”

Of all blessings, being easy to please is the bestest.

Indeed. I am like that, too.

"Which is the food-version perennial of “we only have 5 years to save the climate!!” "

Numbers of animals killed for meat every minute, day, month, year, etc. Especially with reference to particular types of abuse experienced.

It is, in fact, perennial.

We're more likely to go through a period this century where people eat other people than large scale vegetarianism.

Anthony Burgess suggested a name for the canned product: Mensch.

So, if there is no hamburger demand in 50 years, millions of cows will no longer be born, live, die somewhat painlessly. Are those unborn cows better off?

I don't think many people find the argument that lives not existing at all is a such a terrible thing, otherwise people would want to be procreating as much as possible to avoid the terribleness of human lives not existing due to their lack of creating them.

See "the Repugnant Conclusion"

Yes, the Repugnant Conclusion is popular for moral philosophers and people who enjoy that topic to mull over, but does it influence public policy or how many people choose to live? This is why I don't think the argument that "cows are better being livestock than not existing" is such a persuasive argument that it should outweigh all the others.

Um yeah, vegetarians have been saying that animals rights would be the "next big thing" for at least 25 years. I mean, my kid sister was a vegetarian in high school and went around handing out PETA pamphlets and everything.

She gave up vegetarianism last year and said that it wasn't healthy and that henceforth she would eat "quality" ethically famed meats such as free-range chickens and grass fed beef.

I think surveys and statistical sampling on vegetarian diets might be a more useful indicator for judging whether those diets are becoming more or less popular, rather than your anecdotal evidence.

Exactly what I was thinking. A sample size of 1 is ridiculous. An n=2 study is called for here. What does Tyler think?

Basically no change over the last 17 years.

Thanks you Hazel for sharing that. It drives home a good point about how little that number has changed. I think the more recent uptick for the animal rights movement has not been in more vegans and vegetarians (despite how trendy it seems to be among hollywood celebrities) - but rather a couple different things:

1) The drop in dairy milk consumption with a sharp growth in non-dairy milk.

3) Young people seem to be more in favor of animal rights, even if they aren't vegetarian. Look at how well animal rights measures do on state ballots around the country. Recent wins for chickens on this level- which is the most important farm animal if you look at number of animals impacted.

4) Lots of progress getting giant companies (McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Aramark, etc.) to commit to increased animal welfare measures due to consumer pressure.

5) Increase in meatless Mondays and flexitarian-type diets. Getting most people to eat more vegetarian meals is more impactful than a small increase in the number vegans.

Numbers of consumers preferring such options and variety of market choice are increasingly steadily.

It is no longer a revolutionary choice that may lead to ostracization. 15-20 years ago, it was pretty much a standard course of things to get the third degree if ordering an obviously vegetarian option in new company.

These days, most people don't bat an eye. It's almost like they don't want to start an uncomfortable conversation or something ... and also probably know what the main reasons are for people by now.

15-20 years ago, it was pretty much a standard course of things to get the third degree if ordering an obviously vegetarian option in new company.

No. I remember the 90s. Vegetarianism was as trendy then as it is now. It's been trendy since at least the 1960s.

Maybe it was different in some other places.

It used to be very normal to get strange looks if ordering a sub without meat or being deemed irritating for inconveniences such as asking not to put meat in something.

Mainly (I think), now that there are vegetarian options in most restaurants, meat eaters do not often have to give up their preferred options to dine with vegetarians.

There were always vegetarian options in restaurants. Salads, pasta, etc. Veggie burgers have been around since at least 1990.
If you thought people were giving you strange looks for ordering a sub without meat (why is that even on the menu if vegetarianism isn't a thing?), you were probably imagining it.

Any place people would look at you wierd in the 1990s for not eating meat is still a place they will look at you wierd in 2016. Maybe you just moved from a conservative rural area to a liberal urban one, so you think times have changed, but it's actually just your environment.

Yeah, back in the day it was possible to order salad at most restaurants, and because you can't take the meat out of sauce, you might have found pasta with plain canned tomato sauce, or possibly persuade them to make a cheese sandwich or something at the full price but without the meat. (In recent years, it's become normal for restaurants to give a little something extra to acknowledge saving 50c or a dollar in meat).

You see, this was always the thing. Here you are telling me "what are you talking about, there are options. Look, salad, and maybe if you're lucky some pasta with plain canned tomato sauce". Once, twice, three times ... every time? I think I'd notice the difference between then and now. Because I'm telling you, you don't know.

I mean, at least people don't go out of their way to repeatedly mention they're eating MEAT MEAT MEAT around a vegetarian any more for some weird pleasure this gives them.

Like, seriously, I think I'd notice if 100% of conversations with new people in food situations where you ordered a non-meat options was followed by an inquisition on vegetarianism, I'd might start to notice that the 100% pattern holds pretty tight. So, my point is, it hasn't been that way for quite a few years now. And, you wouldn't know the difference either way. I mean, if if you thought it was a cool decision, you're still part of that 100%, just minus the third degree.

If you eat a vegie-burger expecting it to taste like a real hamburger you're likely to be very disappointed.

BUT if you eat a vegie burger expecting it to taste like a vegie burger you may find it's pretty good.

(Yet again) I's all about expectations.

yeah, I agree. There are some tasty veggie burgers out there. Sometimes I'm more in the mood for that than for beef.

You missed the entire point of this post.

Vegetarians will not survive the mid-century cull.

Steve Pinker predicted that vegetarianism would not take off, as even the small percent of people who self-describe as vegetarian (a designator with a lot of turnover) admitted to eating meat in the previous week.

I'd be interested in seeing a citation for this if you have it.

"A careful examination of the reported dietary intakes of vegetarians who responded positively to the above question showed consumption of meat, poultry, or fish by less than two-thirds of the group. "

Interesting - thank you Steve for sharing that study. The OP didn't really qualify his statement with the % of vegetarians that reported eating meat, so that link is useful. The study is from 2003, so I'd be interested to know if much has changed. The study noted this group ate more fish than regular Americans, so I wonder if a lot of people either dislike the term "pescatarian" and prefer mislabeling themselves as vegetarian, or just don't know that term exists.

The conclusion of the study of the study caught my eye: "Self-defined vegetarians may consume red meat, poultry, or fish. However, their dietary patterns are generally healthier than are those of nonvegetarians."

Or. Or people could could have a relationship with a butcher and know where their meat comes from and how it has been treated.But that seems like crazy talk to some.

And to some, killing an otherwise healthy, sentient being is immoral regardless of how it has been treated.

What's the alternative? Keeping them all as pets? Letting them die gruesome, violent deaths in the wilderness?

Not deliberately breeding them by the billion?

We giveth life and we taketh it away.

I's been vegan for about a decade.

The cheese technology is improving vastly. Vegan cheese used to be awful; now it's pretty good.

With all due respect, how would you know? Are you vegan-ish?

(If you haven't had real cheese for a decade, did you just get used to vegan cheese? I know of no cheese connoisseurs switching....)

The vegan cheese is definitely improving over time. None of it is as tasty as the best dairy cheese, but I think many vegans would say that's fine. I'm happy to sacrifice a bit on the quality of my cheese for what I consider to be very sound ethical reasons. For people who hold the relevant moral beliefs, even small improvements in the quality of vegan alternatives should lead to some substitution.

"Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century."

Ironic that with this revolution comes the extinction of the cows and chickens, since they do not exist in the wild and will not be raised for meat. Of course animal rights advocates would attest it better they go extinct than live as they do, I hear them make the same argument for the abortion of down syndrome and otherwise disabled people. The left left likes to asserts their moral views over the suitability of what deserves to live, akin to their eugenicist past.

...still waiting for "animal rights" advocates to give a damn about a human fetus.

If the argument is that it is terrible to have lives not exist, than shouldn't you be demanding humans be having babies as much as possible?

Who ever makes that argument is not alone, see Catholic doctrine on contraception.

For what you say of the left, should we conclude that the right is pro-suffering?

I think this can be framed much more reasonably.

I just don't trust the left determine whats suffering on behalf of others much less preemptively intervene to end or prevent the lives of who in thier opinion the "suffering" are, there's too much moral hazard.

We've already been through this in the beginning of the 20th century with the whole eugenics movement, lets just say it didn't end well.

I still don't understand what "left wing" has to do with any of this.

Also, Alex, soy is not really very healthy. Besides being full of carbs it has compounds that fuck with human metabolism in it. Almost all of the fake meat involves some amount of soy. If you eat it all the time, you're going to develop health problems as you would expect if you ate potatoes or corn all the time. Tofu was invented less than a century ago as a health food and was never commonly eaten in Asia (as is often believed). If you're getting all your protien from soy you're going to make yourself sick. If you're eating a lot of rice and beans, you're going to give yourself diabetes.
Diabetes rates in South India (noted area of vegetarianism) are epidemic - about 20% of the population has Type II diabetes.

"If you’re getting all your protien from soy you’re going to make yourself sick."

Has anyone argued otherwise? Did you need to knock down an argument no one was making so that your opinion would appear more informed?

Did I say anyone was arguing that? I'm saying lots of vegetarians end up eating too much soy because there aren't a lot of good plant-based protein sources. Beans legumes and nuts all have lots of carbs.

High carb diets and vegetable fats are dangerous and if this catches on our health will get much worse.

I am skeptical of this. If you look at the 20-25% of Indian communities that have been vegetarian , there are no ill effects , in terms of health and longevity etc compared to the other communities.

Um, no.
Type II Diabetes rates are 20% of the population of South India. Significantly higher than diabetes rates in the US.

North India is more vegetarian (far more vegetarian) than South India. With lower diabetes rates.

No, it isn't. North India is where they eat kabobs.

Yeah, you are wrong

The linked product does not contain soy.

Why is the carbohydrate content for this product so high??? Lean ground beef contains virtually no carbohydrates.

I agree that animal rights are on the rise and I think that the rights for fetuses will not be far behind. The Democratic party will take a hit for their position on abortion (
Us Christians do not kill our fetuses.

Animal rights people and vegetarians are simply anti-human. I don't see you preaching to lions and tigers to stop eating those zebras. Only humans are supposed to limit themselves and to consume costlier and less tasty/nutritious foods for the sake of some ephemeral "moral principles". There's nothing unethical about factory farming - those animal lack consciousness and agency, so we don't owe them anything. And it's not like traditional agriculture is any better. If you personally can't bear to eat animal-based food - go eat some soy, but the rest of us would like to continue enjoying our lifestyle, thank you.

I'm personally looking forward to the development of current livestock farming methods. There are a lot of hungry people in the world and their need for a good, nutritious diet is far more important in my eyes.

Doesn't it feel great, pushing that button?

"those animal lack consciousness and agency"

What you mean by "consciousness" and "agency"? Every animal with something similar to a brain has someting similar to "consciousness" and "agency".

Well, when those chickens and pigs rise up to defend their rights, or at least conceive of having those rights - then in my view they will have the consciousness and agency. If you as a species lack the capacity for thought - we don't have any obligations to treat you in any particular way. For me personally, even a single chicken expressing itself in any intelligent way would be enough to stop eating chicken. So far - hasn't happened. I'll get back to you with an update after dinner.

Also, most of the vegetarians that I've met, though not all, were quite socially liberal and have generally supported abortion rights, which are predicated upon the concept that fetus is not conscious and therefore it's not a murder. I support those right as well and don't see any reason not to apply them to other animals as well. It would be quite hypocritical to approve the murder of human children and ask for the smelling salts at the sight of a slaughtered chicken.

So since newborns cannot and will not rise up to defend their rights, or assert their existence, babies do not have rights? Babies can be freely slaughtered? What about human beings mentally incapable of understanding the abstract concept of personal liberty in a way which can be articulated and therefore asserted?

We don't preach to lions and tigers to not murder and rape each other either, but that doesn't mean humanity should stop limiting such behavior. At some point "empheral morality" is all we have, unless you aspire to be a jungle cat.

Just out of curiosity, where does your "empheral morality"[sic?] stand on killing a human fetus? Or is it only chickens etc that should have rights?

Murder and rape is an example of intraspecies violence that is duly regulated. A pack of wolves or a pride of lions does not engage in violence and rape just for not reason, but according to their internal social structure. That structure does not prevent them from violent behavior to other species. It's not so different, really. So your point is wrong and misleading.

If you don't believe in ancient hebrew or chinese fairytales - we aren't engaging in anything unnatural, we're simply much more efficient at it than others.

interesting anecdote, some researchers were studying the reaction of monkeys to a type of wolf that share their habitat. They places a taxidermied wolf in well within their territory. Not only did the monkeys gang up and tear apart the fake wolf, but to the researchers horror, they went looking for more wolves, found the nearest wolf mother and cub outside their territory and killed them. Apparently mafioso instincts are not limited to humans.

'Animal rights people and vegetarians are simply anti-human'

No, you're wrong. See, I can make assertions too.

The key sentence in your post is 'those animal lack consciousness and agency, so we don’t owe them anything.' Many people (me included) disagree with this claim of yours.

Cats don't digest legumes well.

Also, we're human.

Cute. All these foodies saying they want eat "GMO" plant food. And now they are going to eat artificial meat.

Can we make artificial meat using fossil fuels as the organic molecules? Full employment for West Virginia.

Driving through western Canada, I've had truck-stop coffee with petroleum based creamer. We call it "oil milk." Fuel for the car, fuel for you, all from the same pipeline.

Hi Martin, I'd consider myself an animal rights person and wanted to give my take on your comment and hear your thoughts. You are correct, I do not preach to lions and tigers. I wouldn't consider myself anti-human either. I don't make anyone limit their diet. So would you still consider me anti-human? I also don't preach to anyone (unless you consider me engaging with you on this topic preaching - but I sure hope not!). I don't think animal rights is about purity - no vegan is able to live without being involved in killing animals. If you drive in a car, you're certainly killing bugs. So in my view it's not about purity, it's about trying to do the best you can (however you want to define it and knowing you could always do better) to reduce unnecessary animal suffering, even while knowing it will not magically lead to a world where no animal suffers (lions killing zebra, for example).

One example is how in the egg industry, male chicks are a useless byproduct and get thrown in bags to be suffocated or ground up ("chick culling"). One way to prevent this mass killing as baby chicks is "oxo sexing technology that can identify the future chick's gender inside the fertilized egg. With this technology, male chicks will never be born to be ground, gassed or suffocated, methods that hatcheries employ to get rid of excess birds who can not lay eggs.". Many consumers who love eating eggs and are not vegan like this idea of not having millions of baby chicks culled each year, so many egg producers have committed themselves to the goal of reducing or eliminating chick culling.

Many vegetarians also are concerned about global hunger, and they go vegetarian because since veg diets require less energy and inputs, you can feed more people. You may disagree that vegeterian diets are nutritrious, but I still appreciate that you care about global hunger, and even though you disagree, maybe you respect the vegetarians who also care about that issue.

Who are the global hungry, where are they and why are they hungry? Are they generally vegetarians?

Hi, Stuart. I certainly don't mind anyone's personal beliefs, so I'm sorry if you took offense at my words. I had more of an issue with Alex's universalist preachings and proclamations.

I do agree on the issue of chick culling - improved selection and efficiency is certainly a positive development. In my opinion, no one in the right mind wants to kill for killing's sake. I do want to get plenty of good food everyday, and I realize that creatures on the lower levels of evolutionary ladder have the misfortune of providing me with that. This is how the nature works. Of course I am personally impacted when I have to witness any bloody business with the animals and like to see the food in its prepared state, rather than raw - but that is more of a testament to our modern civilization, which allows hundreds of millions of people to be sheltered from the realities of daily life for much of the human existence. My relatives who grow livestock on their farm are not less, but more likely to consume meat and dairy products. And average old person who is living on a state pension in my country is already almost a vegetarian - you can't afford to eat meat when a pound of beef is 5% of your monthly income.

I don't comment here often, but this post really strikes me as glancing over the human suffering outside the rich world for the sake of moral sensibilities of top 1%. Many things look good and appealing when you don't have to make do with 50$/month for your living expenses.

Martin - no offense taken, I just was trying to get a better sense of your position and also trying to explain mine.

I didn't see a lot of preaching in this post - I saw it more of his own predictions for the future of food. You can call that a univeral proclamation - but it seems predicting future trends is pretty common to MR. He doesn't say everyone should stop eating meat, he thinks that habit will spread when fake meat can taste more like real meat. He's highlighting a new product in this sphere that he thinks is making a huge stride in this area. Maybe if you could quote the parts you think are the most preachy then I could see it more clearly. He doesn't even say he no longer eats meat - I'm assuming he does.

I don't think discussing the future of fake meat means you are overlooking human suffering. If you worry about humans being impacted negatively by climate change - you might also want to see fake meat get much more popular - which is how Bill Gates looks at this issue (he's not a vegan, but is worried about the huge emissions from meat).

Eventually fake meat will be cheaper than the real thing. I am guessing even at that point some people will be arguing it is God's will that we harvest animals.

When it is cheaper, and tastes as good to most people, of course we'll mostly substitute. In aggregate we're pretty rational about this.

Otoh, when people virtue signal and tell us that we should do something and ignore the trade offs we want them to die in a fire. Again, understandable.

Except for the unhealthy carb and vegetable oil content which will kill us. Worse than cigarettes.

Where's Steve Sailer with his viewpoint? I'm guessing it would go something like this:
1. Gay rights only took off because Jews (who control the media) identify with oppressed gays.
2. Vegetarians aren't oppressed. Nobody has lost out on college places or jobs because they refuse to eat meat.
3. Since animal rights don't align with Jewish interests, they're unlikely to make as much progress as LGBTQWERTY rights.
How am I doing, Steve?

But what's the amino acid profile of fake meat?

Whatever you want? Eventually? Soon?

Think baby formulas and stuff. But not baby formula. Meat substitutes.

The problem here is sodium... I bet each of those "burgers" is 600 mg or so.

Sodium is not a problem to anyone with normal blood pressure

Tastes like chicken. I encourage everybody to raise their own meat, and learn to dress it. Slitting the throat of a chicken raised for food is not only not squeamish, but in a way it becomes even enjoyable. Sorry TR's mom. That said, I also raise flamboyant "silky" chickens as pets, and would never think of harming them. Rabbits, for pets or food? No. You must decide early on which you want to do, then do it. I also raise as pets adorable Philippine monkeys, and we have swans as pets that I hate but my relatives in the PH would never think of eating them (I do).

Can't do it in my suburb. They do allow me to keep bees though.

"MOST PEOPLE?" What is this most you speak of? The majority of Asians are quite supportive of the consumption of food animals by any means necessary.

As society moves further and further away from its rural component, the squeamish will become more important. In bygone times country folk and many of their city cousins raised, slaughtered and butchered their own livestock. They salted, cured and canned them, too. In post-modern America there's an ever-increasing percentage of the population that has never touched a live hog, chicken or cow. While pets now outnumber humans, Americans' relationship with domestic animals raised for food is limited to fingering shrink-wrapped portions at the supermarket display case. The concern for whatever rights animals might have in this regard is now an abstraction with no link to personal experience, based mostly on people's feelings for their dogs and cats. Rural people like pets, too, but are able to tell the difference between Fluffy the poodle and Elsie the cow.

I think it's pretty safe to assume that most people value dogs more than cows in terms of importance of humane treatment.

But for some people, it just doesn't make sense for inhumane aspects of either to be greater than zero.

I can see how beef replacements might steal some of the red meat market. I can't see this replacing Thanksgiving turkeys. Cooking and carving The Bird are part of the holiday tradition and I can't envision Americans getting excited about carving a hunk of turkey-flavored vegetable protein, even if it comes in light and dark options.

The truth is no one gets excited about carving or eating a turkey. That's why we only eat it once a year. It tastes ok and its a tradition but no one gets excited for turkey.

Komissar Tabarrok can't stop signaling; that's his whole job.

If you think leftist morality is going to spiral forever further to the left, you haven't been paying attention. Trump won the election.

Is meat eating a right wing thing?

Would you be offended if I offered a vegetarian option at a BBQ?

"Most people have a vague feeling that factory farms aren’t quite ethical."

Citation needed.

PETA types and virtue signalers perhaps.

If you identify that as "virtue signalling", clearly you share the same vague notion that "factory farms aren't quite ethical".

I'm not a defender of factory farms or animal cruelty, but there's something to be said for the life lessons one learns in agriculture (and hunting.) As our lives become farther removed from the farm, more anesthetized and free from pain, and farther removed from the emotion of taking and giving life, we become less attuned to actual suffering, and it become easier to press the button and annihilate "the enemy", undesirables, and anyone who gets in the way. See the op-ed by Matthew Schmitz in the latest First Things.

What does your dog think of it?

I just hope I'm dead before it comes to this.

Beyond Meat is pea!

The market for Beyond Meat may be limited as long as it costs more than the regular kind. But there's one kind of meat that you can't buy now at any price, and maybe there's a potential business opportunity there. How long before some entrepreneur starts offering human flesh for sale – merely simulated, like Beyond Meat, or the real thing, tissue-cultured?

The jokes write themselves:
"Eat at MacDahmer's"
"Sweeney Todd's: Now the best meat pies in London"
"Human Stir Fry"

You read it here first.

"The Specialty of the House" --Stanley Ellin

It would be fun watching the moralizers of whatever political stripe scraping together arguments about why this must be banned.

Also, some years ago there was a minor fad among the New Agers for mothers eating their placentas.

To Serve Man: A Cookbook for People

One of the best, most versatile "faux meat" ingredients is wheat gluten! Sadly, the wackoes have demonized this great, cheap, source of tasty protein.

This is what makes me a pessimist about the sort of 'any day now!' sentiment Alex is expressing. There have been really good vegan substitutes for lots of meat products for a long time. The Beyond Burger is the latest. It doesn't seem as though there's been much substitution away from meat products by people other than veg*ns so far. Maybe this time is different.

I have never met a vegatarian who has had any contact with cows.

How many dairy farmers are vegetarians?

This topic reeks of ivory tower elitism. People who spend their lives with farm animals understand them, and eat them.

That said, you can find plenty of critics of farmers that work in, for example, modern chicken coops who don't like the treatment of chickens in those facilities, who still eat chicken.

How many vegetarians have you ever met?

What percentage of the population do you think has had any contact with cows?

The fact that I want something produced more ethically does not mean that I'm a hypocrite for not taking the weight of the world on my shoulders but instead just expressing a position and continuing with the default option.

For example, wanting regulations for better conditions for chickens at the same time as eating chickens produced under existing regulations. We need a word for when someone tries to slander something into irrelevance through such faux claims of hypocrisy.

It would be like attacking people who help an old lady get groceries across a busy street for failing to have then gone all the way to take the groceries all the way right up the stairs, unpacked tidily and in the cupboards and fridge and all.

Who the hell would help an old lady get the groceries across a busy street if they would be attacked for "not going all the way".

P.S. - it is possible to directly indicate to chicken distributing brands the existence of consumers who would like to see leadership on such matters. An example of what may arise from such things is a voluntary agreement among Canadian grocers to uphold improved laying hen conditions (for 2025 - allowing lots of adjustment time for producers) for all eggs across all the major chains. It would be very inconvenient to serve the very small remaining market, basically corner stores, etc., who already charge a significant convenience premium and whose prices are largely determined as a function of what the grocers charge.

I've met enough vegetarians and enough people who've grown up on farms for the lack of overlap to seem suspicious. Until someone presents some real statistics showing otherwise, I'll incline to believe that contact with cows indeed predisposes you to eat them.

Sounds likely. if you live on a farm, I expect you'll be quite likely to eat what's on that farm.

Maybe the point is more clear in comparing urban vegetarians to urban non-vegetarians, or non-agricultural rural vegetarians to non-agricultural rural non-vegetarians.

Do the ones who visit farms but do not live on them or work on them ... are they more likely to be vegetarian?

With enough big genomics and CRISPR, it might end up being simpler to run genetic engineering for brain dead chickens and cows with very efficient mass conversion.

Ethically, where would the vegans sit on that? If it's about harm / care, then should be no problem. If it's purity then it's a big problem for them... If it's about harm / care, how low does a chicken's brain mass have to go before they stop caring?

Maybe we can sit them down with life-begins-at-conception types and enjoy watching them debate.

I've heard many vegans are ok with eating oysters and mussels because they are basically brainless blobs of protein, like a plant made of aquatic flesh. So maybe they'd be ok with a brainless chicken, but then again doesn't a chicken need a brain to regulate its physical growth and function (breathing, eating, waste)?

That's one possibility. I think what's more likely is that people will continue to eat meat, just not "factory farmed" meat. Eating out of a tube is prole.

Hmm... Revolution you say?

What about the rich colorful quisines all around the world that pretty much developed around how to make something eatable and more satisfying? (Meatless) Meat replicas are a threat to that because they are applied to resemble one dish, where as e.g. the whole cow body has been iteratively dissected over centuries so that there are no parts that can't be used for a dozen of things. The replica only aimes at tasting like one dish. Can you use beyondmeat's burger for tartar? Can you make a salami out of it? A good broth?

First, I don't think the ethical case for vegetarianism is evident per se, probably for most consumers it's rather the livestock's living conditions than the eating of a once living thing that is causing disturbance.

Second, think about the restaurant section of the New York Times: every new trend that's hitting the tables each new season is something that has been dug up in the world's stockpile of culinary history. (NYC just got its "first Welsh restaurant" . I didn't even think that such a thing as Welsh quisine could exist.) This meatless meat replica revolution won't take care of the stockpile. Instead it will keep us sacked with a snapshot of today's quisine (and probably just the most sold dishes anyway).

I have no doubt that those snapshot dishes will themself evolve into a more complex quisine with unique tastes and satisfaction. But "revolution"? If it means cutting off the ties to our culture, our history, those "revolutionaries" are rather traitors to me and I'm happy to be the reactionary once again!

'It's tradition' is a poor argument for doing something that is otherwise unethical (here bracketing out the question of whether killing animals for food is prima facie unethical). E.g. slavery.

We also shouldn't under estimate the creativity of the Meatless Meat Manufacturers.

Maybe they can find a meatless bullion cube or a meatless tartar.

They picked hamburger because it is one of the most common uses for beef. With the profits from this endeavor, they can invest in new meatless products. Someday the best sirloin steaks could be lab grown.

Artificial dyes are now better than anything found in nature, why can't the same be true for food?

I don't doubt they can. But will they? Sure the demand for new tastes constantly pushes boundaries and forces kitchens to reinterpret dishes from our historic stockpile. But I think part of that happening at all is the low entrance costs in doing so: often you just need some vegeteble / animal-part and start working on those. Anyone with a kitchen can do this. I doubt I'll be able to manipulate protein-molecules for fun in my lifetime.

Man are you going to find the next century unpleasant. Traditionalism is coming back hard. That said if you are anything like most of the virtue signalers come the rise of traditionalism you'll be virtue signaling your devotion to the old ways.

Whatever they're doing, it's fake.

Only real people can understand this.

There is no possible other explanation.

Yet, you identify this as virtue. Signalling or not, is there reason to speak out against virtue?

Is it your practice to just accuse people whose moral beliefs are different from yours of virtue-signalling? What's the difference between virtue-signalling and trying-to-live-according-to-one's-own-sincere-moral-judgements?

Sam thinks the only possible explanation that someone would do something "good" is that they are a fake fuck who tries to attract people through fake fake acts to delude others into thinking they are "good people".

In Sam's mind there are no good people, only fake fucks and cold calculating mother fuckers.

(corrections appreciated...)

Again, "unethical" is subjective. Loss of culinary canon isn't. Assigning value to that canon is, sure. But then, my problem isn't having new age meatless meat-foods around, I'm regularly eating those already, but rather scrapping meaty meat dishes all together for it.

I don't think there are that many people who choose to eat meat over vegetarian alternatives because they enjoy the cruelty.

People eat meat because they enjoy the taste and want the protein in their diet.

If you can come up with something that tastes good and costs less than meat, consumers will happily purchase it. You don't need to guilt them away from eating hamburgers, just provide them with a better alternative.

Sounds like bs. If you took a wad of toilet paper and poured liquid smoke on it it would have a "smokey taste." So what?

A lot of what appears on this blog seems a function to two college professors with way too much time on their hands.

This. I'm sure the burger tastes ok but I don't believe it tastes excellent. It's likely Alex has never had an excellent hamburger. Most people haven't.

"A lot of what appears on this blog seems a function to two college professors with way too much time on their hands." jack, why then are you wasting your time reading the bs these 2 profs post??

As usual, the ethical dilemma of animals as food for humans centers on birds and mammals. Nobody seems to care about our aquatic brothers, the fish. In fact, sport fishermen enjoy torturing them by "playing" them on the end of a line. Since their screams aren't heard by the fisherman, even queasy little girls can enjoy the thrill of ruining a smallmouth bass's day.

That was a very original and enjoyable post on your blog.

I would like to know the nutrition facts and ingredients please. Also contact information to import it to Costa Rica.

love me some sustainable farming!

buy local!

From Tyler's convo with Ezra Klein in Oct. 2016:

COWEN: Which of our current practices or views will in the more distant future seem crazy, or just outright wrong? To ask the Chuck Klosterman question.

KLEIN: Sure. How we treat animals. I think that how we treat animals, particularly around factory farming, and factory dairy production, etc., will be a genuine moral blight on this era. And particularly on this era, because we’re at this point now where we’re beginning to get very, very good at creating plant-based meats, and increasingly we’re moving towards lab-grown meats. We’re about to have a bunch of technological changes that will make eating very little meat or no meat, at least no factory-farmed meat, pretty easy and pretty affordable.

Funny how emotional people get over this issue.

Since "animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century" due to unethical factory farms, the demand for veggie burgers will surely increase. What would this do to the farming industry? I assume that the more aware people become of "cage free" or "free range" the demand for that would increase as well. Also as the demand for those products increase, the suppliers would have to find more ways to incorporate sustainable farming.

I completely agree: Animal rights will be the big social movement of the 21st century. And we'll all be the better for it.

Comments for this post are closed