Why There Is Less Meat And More Bugs In Our Dietary Future

Why There Is Less Meat And More Bugs In Our Dietary Future
Production facility manager Derek Delahaye eats roasted crickets at the Entomo Farms cricket processing facility in Norwood, Ont., in 2016. Bugs are a diet staple in most parts of the world. Will Canadians join the masses in their search for alternate sources of protein to meat?
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill 

Biologically speaking, humans are omnivores and we like to eat a variety of things. There is increasing interest in all sorts of alternative sources of protein as we diversify our diets. This trend is accelerating in 2018.

According to Nielsen, the consumer analytics company, the proportion of Canadians identifying as vegetarian and vegan is still relatively small (six per cent and two per cent respectively), but 43 per cent of Canadians say they’re planning to get more plant-based proteins into their diets. That’s higher than both the United States and global average.

This is coupled with an 18 per cent reduction in beef consumption and an 11 per cent decrease in pork consumption over the past decade, according to the Nielsen data.

In the U.S., meantime, plant-based food sales grew by almost 15 per cent from July 2016 to June 2017.

We are being offered more variety in response to these trends. It’s a phenomenon driven by a wide range of concerns over our health, the environment, animal welfare — and simply an increasing desire for variety. It’s clear that consumers are reducing meat consumption (flexitarianism) or, to a smaller degree, not eating meat at all (vegetarianism, veganism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism and pescatarianism).

While the science continues to be unclear about the health impacts of meat consumption, it is clear that there’s a move towards eating less meat. The new, not-yet-finalized Canada Food Guide recommends moving to a more plant-based diet. But if people reduce their intake of meat, they will need to find protein elsewhere.

Animals emit lots of methane

A common critique of meat is that livestock production is environmentally unsustainable. In addition to the resources required to produce meat, there is also concern about the emissions from farm animals, particularly cows.

While the absolute impact depends on the livestock type — beef is considered more problematic than chicken due to both emissions and the amount of grain required per kilogram of meat produced — and the specific production system, concern over environmental impact will continue to motivate some to cut back on meat consumption.

Furthermore, some consumers think that raising animals for human consumption is unethical, and are choosing to stop eating meat altogether.

Even without concern for the other factors, there is also a trend to increased variety and choice. Baby Boomers, in particular, have more time and are experimenting more with food.

Restaurants are working hard to offer more choice, profitably, as meat prices increase. They also are seeing the early trend of reduced meat consumption and anticipating an opportunity. A demand for alternate proteins exists in grocery stores as well.

Plant-based proteins are the primary alternative. These are most often soy protein or pulses. Pulses are the dried seeds of legumes and the most common edible ones are dried peas, dried beans, chickpeas and lentils.

These products are appealing as they are high in protein and fibre but low in fat. While that makes for a healthier product, it does make them less desirable for some consumers.

Lab meat being developed

In efforts to replicate the meat experience, several companies are developing plant-based meat analogs. They are building “burgers” that mimic the colour, texture, juiciness and taste of a beef burger. The Impossible Burger is one that’s received a lot of attention. Several of these products are on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves in the United States and Canada already.

Companies are also developing the technology to culture meat, a process in which meat protein is grown in a laboratory without a live animal.

This technology exists today and costs are still high, but developers are optimistic that cost reductions will continue. Another drawback of the current technology is that it produces a ground beef analog rather than the long muscle fibres that comprise premium cuts of beef.

Insect protein is another area with the potential for dramatic growth. The “ick!” factor has constrained development in North America, but there are parts of the world where insects represent a significant protein source.

Insects have appeal because they grow quickly and efficiently. Also, food that would otherwise be wasted can be used to raise insects.

The development of products such as insect “flour,” where the source is not recognizable, may make insect protein more appealing. President’s Choice just launched a cricket powder as part of its product line. Insect protein is clearly entering the mainstream.

The long-term trend to lower per-capita meat consumption will continue.

The ConversationThere’s no doubt there will be greater interest in insects, plant-based protein and cultured meat. Expect to see new products and approaches in the year to come and beyond.

About The Authors

Michael von Massow, Associate Professor, Food Economics, University of Guelph and Alfons Weersink, Professor, Dept of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Guelph

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Related Books

InnerSelf Market

Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

LATEST VIDEOS

Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
A Georgia Town Gets Half Of Its Electricity From President Jimmy Carter's Solar Farm
A Georgia Town Gets Half Of Its Electricity From President Jimmy Carter's Solar Farm
by Johnna Crider
Plains, Georgia, is a small town that is just south of Columbus, Macon, and Atlanta and north of Albany. It is the…
Majority of US Adults Believe Climate Change Is Most Important Issue Today
by American Psychological Association
As the effects of climate change become more evident, more than half of U.S. adults (56%) say climate change is the…
How These Three Financial Firms Could Change The Direction Of The Climate Crisis
How These Three Financial Firms Could Change The Direction Of The Climate Crisis
by Mangulina Jan Fichtner, et al
A silent revolution is happening in investing. It is a paradigm shift that will have a profound impact on corporations,…

LATEST ARTICLES

Heatwaves Too Hot And Wet For Human Life Are Here
Heatwaves Too Hot And Wet For Human Life Are Here Now
by Tim Radford
Lethal heatwaves carrying air turned too hot and wet to survive are a threat which has arrived, thanks to climate…
How Dangerous Is Low-level Radiation To Children?
How Dangerous Is Low-level Radiation To Children?
by Paul Brown
A rethink on the risks of low-level radiation would imperil the nuclear industry’s future − perhaps why there’s never…
What We Do Now Could Change Earth's Trajectory
What We Do Now Could Change Earth's Trajectory
by Pep Canadell, et al
The numbers of people cycling and walking in public spaces during COVID-19 has skyrocketed.
Marine Heatwaves Spell Trouble For Tropical Reef Fish — Even Before Corals Die
Marine Heatwaves Spell Trouble For Tropical Reef Fish — Even Before Corals Die
by Jennifer M.T. Magel and Julia K. Baum
Despite the many challenges facing the world’s oceans today, coral reefs remain strongholds of marine biodiversity.
Warnings of Worse-Than-Usual Hurricane Season Point to Trouble Ahead
Warnings of Worse-Than-Usual Hurricane Season Point to Trouble Ahead
by Eoin Higgins
Hurricane season is about to start and its risks will only grow and potentially compound any impacts from the pandemic.
Australia, It's Time To Talk About Our Water Emergency
Australia, It's Time To Talk About Our Water Emergency
by Quentin Grafton et al
There’s another climate change influence we must also face up to: increasingly scarce water on our continent.
Fossil Fuels Are Heading Down, But Not Yet Out
Fossil Fuels Are Heading Down, But Not Yet Out
by Kieran Cooke
Renewable energy is making rapid inroads into the market, but fossil fuels still wield enormous global influence.
Human Action Will Decide How Much Sea Levels Rise
Human Action Will Decide How Much Sea Levels Rise
by Tim Radford
Sea levels will go on rising, because of human action. By how much, though, depends on what humans do next.