Bill Gates on the Future of Meat Alternatives: Why He's Optimistic
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates recently shared his optimism about the future of plant-based meats during his annual Ask Me Anything session on Reddit.
By Milo Runkle
Gates said he has invested in meat alternative brands Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Upside Foods (formerly known as Memphis Meats) and believes that these products will eventually be "very good" for consumers, even though their share of the meat market is currently small.
Gates acknowledged that traditional approaches to reducing meat consumption, such as vegetarianism and veganism, are great options but noted, "I don't think most people will do that." He believes alternative meat products are necessary to lower meat consumption and reduce the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
Animal agriculture plays a significant role in climate change. According to the United Nations, the livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the leading contributors to climate change. The production of meat and other animal products generates emissions from the animals themselves, such as methane from cow burps and from the fertilizer, fuel, and other inputs needed to grow the feed that sustains them. The destruction of forests and other natural habitats to create space for animal grazing and feed crop production also contributes to carbon emissions.
When asked about the world's response to global warming, Gates stated, "The pace of innovation is really picking up even though we won’t make the current timelines or avoid going over 1.5 [degrees Celcius]." He emphasized that cost is a critical factor in addressing climate change, stating, "The key on climate is making the clean products as cheap as the dirty products in every area of emission — planes, concrete, meat, etc. This is the only way we can ask all the countries in the world to change. If it costs a lot extra, we won't succeed."