The CEOs of meatless meat companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, have expressed their desire to eliminate animal farming and creating meat without using animals. They aim to achieve this by 2035 and believe they are part of a generation that will separate meat production from animals.
Although it may seem challenging, it is not impossible to believe that in the near future, startups producing alternative proteins could begin to take a portion of the market currently dominated by meat and dairy products.
There are signs indicating a shift in consumer preferences towards plant-based alternatives. Additionally, the CEO of Cargill, a major beef company, predicts that plant-based meat could make up 10% of the meat market in the near future.
A shift towards a predominantly plant-based future would benefit both livestock and the environment, as factory farming is a significant source of pollution. However, this transition would also have significant implications for the economy, potentially causing disruption and job loss for farmers and meatpacking workers who rely on raising and slaughtering animals. What will happen to them in the future?
A paper from the Breakthrough Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for technological solutions to environmental problems, tried to answer that question. The report surveyed 37 experts on the challenges ahead for a potential plant-based future and found three types of people whose livelihoods could be most vulnerable:
- farmers who grow soy and corn for animal feed,
- contract farmers who grow pork or poultry for Big Meat,
- and meatpacking plant workers
It is inevitable that there will be displacement and disruption, and it is important for policymakers to fully understand the extent of this transition in order to be prepared for it.
There are ongoing experimental projects to support animal farmers in switching to crop production, but the outcomes have been varied. This highlights both the potential opportunities and challenges faced by farmers wanting to leave the meat industry. It also emphasizes the importance of innovative policies to address potential economic difficulties if a plant-based future becomes a reality.
Reference- National Geographic, Vox, The Vice, Agri-Pulse.com Article, CB Insights, Reuters