Food & Drink | February 17, 2021 12:51 pm

According to Bill Gates, Rich Countries Shouldn’t Be Eating Real Meat

You know what? He's got a point.

Bill Gates thinks we should eat synthetic meat
Why should you try new synthetic meats like Impossible and Beyond? Just ask Bill Gates.
NurPhoto/Contributor/Getty Images

In a recent interview with MIT Technology Review to promote his new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates discusses fuel costs, the election of President Biden and carbon-offset schemes. It’s a fascinating conversation. But his can’t-miss takes hinge on the ideal role of meat in both rich and poor countries over the next several decades.

According to Gates, there is currently no excuse for developed countries to be eating real meat. He says: “I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef. You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time. Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”

Gates points to the ambitious roadmaps of surging meatless brands like Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods, which have found millions of steady consumers in the United States over the last 18 months. Gates expects (or hopes, at least) that more citizens of developed nations will come to rely on these substitute options, and help reduce the unnecessary over-reliance on livestock factory farming.

This will prove difficult, though — faux meat products currently claim less than 1% market share of global meat consumption. If rich nations refuse to kick their meat-eating ways, Gates says they definitely shouldn’t expect the planet’s “80 poorest nations” to eat synthetic meat. In these areas, where food optionality trends low, Gates believes the key is maximizing the amount of meat available, while lowering the amount of emissions per pound of beef.

How? By building a better cow. Gates is working with geneticists to replicate African livestock; it can live in hotter temperatures (which are coming for us all!) and produce more milk.

Cynics — and carnivores — will point to Gates’s business interests here. He has investments in Beyond, Impossible, and a company that grows meat tissue by cellular means, called Memphis Meats. But keep in mind, Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged $45 billion to charitable causes over the years. The man clearly wants to make the world a better place, and he’s been at it for a while now.

As we’ve covered extensively over the last year, cutting back on meat is very much possible. It won’t just help the earth; the decision will immediately give you a better quality of life. Inevitably, Gates’s comments will make headlines and piss a certain subsection of people off. But he’s absolutely right. An underrated luxury of living in a rich country? Our most ethical decisions can also be our most enjoyable.

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