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Paul Graham on the Transition to Meat Substitutes (twitter.com)
280 points by tosh 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 427 comments



Since we're making predictions here, I predict that shortly after we adopt meat substitutes, we'll start to question what's inside them. Then the conversation will change from meat substitutes being good and healthy to something akin to the GMO debate about meat substitutes not being natural. And just like GMOs, whether it's actually bad for you or not won't matter. This debate will be a proxy war between Big Meat and some faceless VC-backed corporations trying to make meat proprietary. Some meat substitutes will actually be pretty terrible but #notallmeatsubstitutes. Unfortunately, it will only take a few bad substitutes to ruin the name of all.

I also predict that meat substitutes, if made cheaper than meat, will be deemed inferior in quality (cheap = inferior, because psychology) and reserved for those who cannot afford real meat (the "meatless masses").


Most of the meat in the market is already something else than what people think meat is.

Meatballs may have more than half chicken skin. Burgers contain 25% filler. Pink slime (= lean finely textured beef) is a highly processed meat by-product. In the US its processed with ammonia but that's not allowed in EU.


"Pink slime" is made by centrifuging heated fatty offcuts, which doesn't turn my stomach that much.

I have a sneaking suspicion that what people find disgusting is the industrial production of meat, and that if Gordon Ramsey had a small and inoffensive centrifuge attachment for his KitchenAid the process would seem less gross.


Home production of meat is equally gross if not more. You probably haven't seen the meat market in Lagos (I’d think twice before searching that on Google Images). At least the industry has to comply with regulation and hygenical standards.


High status for the rich food can be gross, but it can't be low quality. Ammonia or citric acid processed slime-paste is as low quality as it gets. Adding pink slime to the product changes the texture. Pink slime less meaty and juicy compared to normal beef.

Good chef can do good simple food, but they want good ingredient and that's not that pink slime is.


On one hand, I know what you mean.

On the other, isn't it all really quite subjective? What you describe is tied every bit as much to irrational emotions about histories of things as it is about 'quality' in any measurable sense. What is considered the highest delicacy with a complex preparation in one century has that same process industrialized and becomes 'poor people junk food' in the next, despite being objectively, measurably a better quality product by every possible metric.


While your statement is true it's not exactly that straightforward since that is only part of the process and rationale for it. The US has just recently changed course on allowing pink slime to be labeled as "ground beef". Because of those recent changes by the FDA consumers have lost insight to what's in their meat unfortunately.

https://newfoodeconomy.org/bpi-pink-slime-ground-beef-usda-r...


Eating only lean muscle meat is not a good idea anyway. Not sure the products you mentioned are healthy, but mixing things up a bit with skin, organs etc might be beneficial. Don’t hate the meat byproducts per se.


Which is why one needs to be cooking for themselves as I have while eating my--coincidentally enough--made from scratch spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight.


Honestly though chicken skin is delicious. I don't know why it would bother me to have it in my meatballs.


Fried chicken is almost based on the idea that the skin (and enhancements thereof) is the best bit, after all...


But chicken skin is the best bit of chicken.


I seem to be the only one in my family who thinks so. I've always loved it, but my parents avoided it, and my wife and kids refuse to eat it.

And I'm the one who used to be a vegetarian for nearly 20 years.

(The best bit of the chicken is the thigh, though.)


did you farm the wheat or raise the cow? how do you know it's not GMO supersoy hybrid soaked in bee-killing Roundup?


Most of the preprocessed meat maybe. I've never put chicken in my meatballs. And meatballs are easy enough to make that for the life of me I can't figure out why anybody would buy them premade. Make a large batch and freeze them yourself. They'll be a thousand times better than the trash you can buy at the store.


> I can't figure out why anybody would buy them premade

People who don't have a kitchen big enough for cooking in bulk like that? People without freezers? People without that amount of free time? People don't really like food? People with motion disabilities? I've probably missed out some groups.


>People who don't have a kitchen big enough for cooking in bulk like that?

By "bulk" I mean an oven tray or two. I'm not rocking an commercial kitchen here.

>People without freezers?

Where do they put their frozen meatballs from the store?

The time is amortized, if you don't like food then you shouldn't care anyway, and I really doubt most people buying frozen meatballs from the store have disabilities.


> Where do they put their frozen meatballs from the store?

Perhaps they're buying frozen ones to cook immediately (much like frozen meals)?

> I really doubt most people buying frozen meatballs from the store have disabilities

It might not be "most" for that one group, sure, but the groups I suggested probably do cover "most" in total.


This. Or even making your own marinara sauce. It’s payoff for the amount of time invested. NYtimes has a good recipe that takes about 20 minutes. The only trick is to find really good canned tomatoes.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015987-classic-marinara...


Even bad canned tomatoes are probably better than whatever fresh plastic balls you can find in your market.


On a tangential note, I wish it were possible to buy foods specifically because they contain GMOs. I intentionally avoid buying foods labeled "non-GMO" in a feeble attempt to vote with my wallet.


So far, I know of exactly one brand that offers this:

https://soylent.com/blogs/news/proudly-made-with-gmos


I concur with the sentiment. Isn't GMO to create foods that require less pesticides? So wouldn't that be a good thing if there are less chemicals used on our foods, seeping into our soil and water supply? I never really understood why people are so scared of GMO....

I can see GMO foods being owned by the likes of Monsanto, earning healthy royalties on seeds that cannot bear offspring. I think there should be a GMO open source initiative...


Not really, Monsanto GMO roundup ready crops are crops specifically modified to be able to take larger amounts of their roundup pesticide, leading to more chemicals being sprayed on our food.


This isn't true.

Roundup-ready GMOs led to replacement of many more toxic herbicides with glyphosphate. BT GMOs led to much less usage of insecticides on crops.


Which has its own problems unfortunately, given that it's basically everywhere now (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896971...) and it damages DNA (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22331240/). So basically everything's terrible and we're all going to die...


The problem being that the signal to noise ratio is very low as to whether or not there are harmful effects. Normal exposure to glyphosphate in people is very low and at those levels you are exposed to many different substances even in wholly natural food.

Compounded with that is there are very few people doing research without an agenda.

You also have to realize that "organic" in the US doesn't mean treatment-free crops. There are a large number of substances approved to treat crops for pests and weeds and still be counted as organic with the rationale that those treatments are less synthetic. There is absolutely no guarantee that this means they have fewer negative effects.


Yeah, I get these are small proportions. I'm definitely not recommending "organic" produce/meat. I meant that whatever we try to do at this point seems to be "let's use a little bit of this carcinogen which is spreading everywhere in tiny amounts so we don't have to use more of a different toxic substance". It feels depressing that these are our choices.


Roundup is a herbicide. Otherwise agree with you - unfortunately GMO does not necessary means less bad stuff.


> Roundup is a herbicide. Otherwise agree with you

Herbicides are actually a _kind_ of pesticide (weeds are a kind of 'pest'), so Roundup is actually both. TIL!


> Isn't GMO to create foods that require less pesticides?

That depends entirely on the kind of GMO. GMOs don't exist for any particular single purpose. Some GMOs exist to make it easier to use pesticides. Some GMOs contain pesticides.

Some GMOs have nothing to do with pesticides but add nutritional value. For example, Golden Rice, which has beta-carotene added to increase the vitamin-A intake of the hundreds of millions of people who subsist mainly on rice, generally gets mentioned as the one GMO that's completely positive with no discernible downside: it doesn't mess with ecosystems in any way, beta-carotene is already common in many plants, it doesn't do anything pesticide-related, and it makes people healthier.


Golden Rice is cool. And it's "nice" that the intellectual property owner has relaxed royalties for now. But it will be interesting to see how fast ancient local strains of rice disappear and there is less biodiversity. How hard is it to mix in a few greens with rice to get vitamin A?


As far as I understand, it doesn't have any kind of boosted resistance or anything, so it shouldn't dominate and replace wild rice the way other modified rice might.

That said, if farmers move from producing a wide variety of rice strains to only golden rice, that's still a significant reduction in biodiversity. Maybe they should make beta-carotene versions of more kinds of rice.

Mixing in a few greens is surprisingly hard when people are almost too poor to buy rice.


Biodiversity, I think is the biggest problem. The potato blight spread so rampently because mostly one clone of the exact potato was being grown everywhere. Some sort of rice or corn blight would be catastrophic.


Absolutely true. Also consider the fate of the Gros Michel banana. Biodiversity is vital for our food production, and GMOs definitely carry the risk of creating monocultures.


> Isn't GMO to create foods that require less pesticides? So wouldn't that be a good thing if there are less chemicals used on our foods, seeping into our soil and water supply?

As mentioned by wonderwonder, Roundup-ready soybeans are the poster child for GMO varieties being create to allow more chemical herbicides. And in this case glyphosate (RoundUp) is being seen more and more widely as a really nasty chemical to allow into the water supply and into nature. It has been linked to honey bee colony collapse, and the general insect collapse, not to mention lymphomas and lukemias.. (As an old Iowa farm boy, I am shocked at the number of relatives and their neighbors that are getting strange lymphomas and lukemias.)

> I never really understood why people are so scared of GMO....

But I do agree that eating a GMO grain is not scary by itself. It is the side effects of the different style of agriculture it allows that concerns me. (see glyphosate, above, and more below).

> I think there should be a GMO open source initiative...

Just Monsanto's poor luck that you can not create an unstable soy bean hybrid. They all breed true. The is the great advantage of selling seed corn, if you just avoid doing the last, stabilizing, cross, you can sell seed corn that will create a healthy plant who's seeds will not produce productive plants. Mother Nature gives you free IP protection. (Monsanto is a nasty company in so many ways.... I don't even want to get into it.)

Another chemical-related factor with GMO varieties is the unintended consequences of evolutionary selective pressure. A common GMO application in maize is to modify the plant to produce a toxin that is poisonous to the root-worm moth and/or the corn-borer moth. So, in this case, less pesticide chemicals. Which is great, but used indescrimanently, in a few generations we will have largely resistant moth populations. The state of Iowa has been very forward-thinking on this front, and requires that some percentage of every field planted to the GMO variety (like 15% or so, I forget the exact number) must be planted to "refuge rows". That is, if you plant a GMO moth-resisant variety, a percentage of the same field must be planted to traditional varieties to create a refuge for the moths so that the population does not develop resistance. Now, since maize does best in large blocks, the fence rows never yield as well anyway. And you always have turn-round rows where machines trample some unlucky plants as well. So plant the already poor-yielding rows to the refuge variety, and the GMO variety more than makes up for the loss. So it still pencils out advantageously.

What concerns me about this scenario is more environmentally naive and myopic regions might allow 100% GMO-toxin varieties, for the moth or other similar scenarios where evolutionary selective pressure can be a fast-acting force. Rolling out a GMO variety of anything requires examining the second- and third-order consequences.

So while I have little fear of eating GMO Doritos, I don't want GMO Doritos to bring on The Invasion of the Super Locusts in 3D with Dolby sound.


Just buy anything that's not labeled non-GMO. Non-GMO is a value add so companies will always voluntarily disclose this information.


That would be very easy if GMO products were labeled.

The industry seems to object to any such suggestion.


mmmm glyphosate.


This is what progmo don’t understand most engineering isn’t for qualities the end consumer wants! Easier to produce doesn’t mean better. And yeah 90% of the time when it is gmo it’s as you imply using roundup ready (tm) seeds to spray more now legally cited as carcinogenic glyphosate


The forbidden spice.


Also, 10 years later, there will be fads and forwards which talk about eating "Natural" protein, not this fake stuff.

15 years later, there will be science talking about how micro nutrients are missing from meat substitutes and how a natural, healthy and balanced diet is necessary for human beings.


And there will be a movement "Grow your own meat" which proposes to keep bunnies and slaughter them yourself. Members will be proud to be not grossed out of the gore. Groups will discuss the best ways to feed and slaugther bunnies. They will have Thanksgiving bunnies.


I presume you were pointing this out in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, rather than predicting a future state, but just in case anyone else is curious here’s a 20 year-old reference:

“Backyard Production of Meat Rabbits in Texas”[0]

[0] http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/877...


The nutrition science in 2019 is clear and has been clear for decades.

A high carb low fat low protein whole food plant based diet with (cheap) vitamin supplements and maybe linseed oil:

- is the healthiest diet.

- is the cheapest diet.

- is the most efficient and environment friendly diet.

- is the most ethical diet with regard to immoral animal suffering caused by humans.


Citation required.

I was on such a diet for many years and eventually gave up on it because I could not make it work in a healthy way.

Why?

Too many deficiencies. Example: Linseed oil /= DHA/EPA. Many or most people cannot make long chain Omega 3 fats in the quantity needed from vegetable "Omega 3" fats.

Too many anti-nutrients in plants.

Get on youtube and search "I used to be a vegan" for numerous cases like mine, health irreparably damaged.


Citations: https://lustysociety.org/diet.html

Besides: Vegans In The US Can Now Get Cheaper Life Insurance Thanks To Their Diet : https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/vegans-plantbased-cheape...

DHA/EPA are not essential fatty acids but conditionally essential fatty acids.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_fatty_acid

> Get on youtube and search "I used to be a vegan" for numerous cases like mine, health irreparably damaged.

What did a vegan diet do to you ? Lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamins ? I advice to use vitamin supplements no matter the diet.

I agree that youtube offers much true and useful knowledge.

Unfortunately youtube offers also much false and harmful knowledge.

Some better youtube channels about nutrition:

Mic the Vegan : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGJq0eQZoFSwgcqgxIE9MHw/vid...

Nutritionfacts.org : https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg/videos

PLANT BASED NEWS : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJRjK20fHylJyf-HiBtqI2w/vid...


  > A high carb low fat low protein whole food plant based diet with (cheap) vitamin supplements and maybe linseed oil:
  > - is the healthiest diet.
I would love to see the argument for this. I accept that it's the most cheap, efficient and possibly ethical (although there are a lot of ways you can go about producing this food, not all of it ethical), but healthiest? High carbs makes you fat. You need proteins and some fat. Having your diet be all carbs sounds like a bad idea.


> High carbs makes you fat.

An excess of energy makes you fat. Besides, fat is much easier to store as body fat for the body than carbs or protein.

> You need proteins and some fat. Having your diet be all carbs sounds like a bad idea.

I wrote whole food plant based diet.

I wrote high carb, low fat, low protein.

NOT: max carb, min fat, min protein.


I'm no dietician, but here's a couple of facts/myths/urban legends I've heard about nutrition. No idea how true they are, but they sound plausible to me:

* carbs digest into glucose

* too much glucose in your blood triggers insulin production which turns glucose into fat

* a glucose spike can trigger an insulin spike which leads to a glucose dip an hour or two after lunch

* eating fat triggers the feeling of being full, reducing your desire for more food

I have no idea how true these all are, but my impression is that there's at least some evidence supporting these. And if you add them all up, it sounds to me like you get fatter from eating carbs, because that can lead to a glucose spike -> insulin spike -> glucose dip which makes you want more sugar to get your glucose back up. Whereas food with more fat may make you feel full and stop craving more food.


These 4 points you mentioned are true facts.

But your conclusion is still not true. Saying carbs should be avoided is like saying water should be avoided because people died from drinking too much.

Biochemistry and psychology is complicated.

But a healthy diet is well known and not complicated.

Basically: Whole food plant based diet with vitamin supplements (notably vitamin B12) and e.g. linseed oil for the essential fatty acids.

Dr Garth Davis: Americans have become obsessed with Protein https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQCt3IhaUtU&feature=youtu.be...


I think there are significantly more people who eat too many carbs than people who drink too much water.

Speaking for just myself, I used to feel that sugar low after my lunch, and I know that craving for more carbs. I gained too much weight as a result. Now I've cut down on my carbs and I mostly snack on veggies these days and try not to overdo carbs at lunch, and that seems to help at least with that sugar low.


When I write carbs I mean staple food and fruits and not candy or sweet fat in the form of chocolate and caramel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staple_food


High carbs mean satiety takes more energy input to reach.


Well that’s the complete opposite of the keto diet which is high fat low carb and is the top diet in America in 2019


How is keto a top diet in America? Vast majority of people in America get majority of their calories from carbs.


It is among the top diets promoted by fake experts (e.g. youtubers, magazines,...) and marketing experts.

Even kitchen machines for vegetables have "low carb" stickers on the box. Crazy.

> Vast majority of people in America get majority of their calories from carbs.

Maybe they still get too much calories form other sources. Of course sugar in soft drinks are not the best carbs.

Dr Garth Davis: Americans have become obsessed with Protein (2015-10-28). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQCt3IhaUtU

And US food and junk food is quite fatty. Also because of meat.


Yes. It shows again that marketing and personal fantasy trump science and truth in the USA and probably elsewhere too.

But not eternally. Science will prevail eventually.


Science will prevail eventually, on that I will agree. Unfortunately most nutrition science today is complete garbage. The evidence doesn't back up the results they claim.

Basically, at this point each person has to try various things and figure out what works best for themself.


True science is clear and known.

Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. https://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19562864/

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27886704/

Nutrition concerns and health effects of vegetarian diets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21139125/

Why Doctors Don't Recommend A Vegan Diet | Dr. Michael Greger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d1Ca6SsKfE

New Canada Food Guide: Some Can't Handle It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp4zWaLE_ik

Unfortunately lies and fake science affected by a personal or political or financial agenda confuse people.


None of those are actual studies.

Quoting from the first link: "In the case of red meat, the classification is based on limited evidence from epidemiological studies showing positive associations between eating red meat and developing colorectal cancer as well as strong mechanistic evidence.

Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations (technically termed chance, bias, or confounding) could not be ruled out."

This is garbage science. It's all like that. Believe whatever you like, though.


I concur but I see a potential third tier: we might have the Meated, the Entomeated, and the Meatless.

With strata within each caste of course. The grass-fed yak-meated vs the factory-pig-meated; the wild-grasshopper entomeated vs the squishy-larva entomeated; and the fresh-veg meatless vs the Wal-Soylent meatless.


>I also predict that meat substitutes, if made cheaper than meat, will be deemed inferior in quality (cheap = inferior, because psychology) and reserved for those who cannot afford real meat (the "meatless masses").

I think there will be such a period, but eventually it'll swap.

Both because more affluent people will tend to be more pro-animal welfare and so synthetic meat will be more associated with the successful, and because eventually (probably distant future, but who knows) all the meat substitutes will just taste better than real meat and anyone who's ever had a meal won't be able to deny the reality.


Well one of the wonderful things about the current meat alternatives is they are relatively easy to make at home from a few basic plant ingredients that are really quite easy to say, yeah, thats fine, and the end product tastes good.

Its when you get into the territory of that "natural flavor" ingredient listing that things get really weird in food. Think la croix soda. Freakish, really unnatural flavor, almost salty even, but somehow they have two things listed. Water, Natural Flavor.

People don't seem to bat an eye at that, but having seen firsthand beverage formulation work (not la croix) its a pretty odd thing. Dozens of small glass vials with oil extracts with intense fragrances of orange, lemon, lime, cherry, etc. Even among one of those, there might be dozens of variants, each a different oil from the plant that produces that orange smell.

How carcinogenic are these things? Do they have any poor side effects? Why aren't they listed individually? Have there been studies on each one?

Its like the FDA caters to large companies not wishing to share beverage and food formulations, despite a cancer epidemic.


Great points @jameslk. I will add a few points to your predictions:

* There will be a meat substitute options catered to groups with higher net income.

* Nations dependent on meat products for export will try (in)directly impact society's view on these meat substitutes.

* We will see issues with IP laws associated with meat substitutes

* There will be 'generic' meat substitutes similar to the prescription drugs.


> I also predict that meat substitutes, if made cheaper than meat, will be deemed inferior in quality

I'm not sure if they'll be universally cheaper than meat. There's a lot of diversity in meat substitutes in the Netherlands, and you already see quite a price difference between the "high-end" meat substitutes, and the basic store brand soy burgers. We seem to be going in the direction where there are "inferior" meat substitutes, and high quality ones that are considered better than at least cheap meats.


People have already been questioning what's inside meat substitutes. The most recent scandal I can recall involved vegan fake meat which tested positive for eggs, probably used as a binder.


Hopefully the cheaper meat substitutes end up in all the processed and consumer food that is most unconsciously eaten and already of the lowest quality. Thinking Taco Bell.


> Then the conversation will change from meat substitutes being good and healthy to something akin to the GMO debate about meat substitutes not being natural.

While I actually haven't seen this debate online,I hear it in real life when the subject lands on those meat substitutes available where I live.

People who look at the ingredients list see a lot of E-numbers and things that sounds even scarier.


There might be a big regulatory war to ban using the word 'meat' in marking substitutes.


There already is to some extent. In Netherland, there's the "Vegetarische Slager" (vegetarian butcher) which produces fairly convincing substitutes of specific types of meat. But they can't call their fake chicken "chicken", or their fake beef "beef", because there's no actual chicken or beef in it. But they do want to make clear to the consumer that they're meant to be substitutes specifically for chicken and beef.

Now they can sell it as long as they spell it differently. So we get lots of fake meat with spelling errors now.


I love how your mind spiraled with this and even came to a headline of "meatless masses."


I won't be surprised if meat substitutes end up being much more expensive than meat is today (and "normal" meat even pricier). My prediction is for meat prices to rise as more and more people reduce consumption, maybe a couple of generations from now meat consumption will be a luxury item.


Somebody has been watching too much Soylent Green and reading too much Marx


I predict you can decide for yourself what you want to purchase and the free market will address this problem without the need of any concern.


> make meat proprietary

We'll have to download filet mignon from thepiratebay to get around the 'French cuts of meat' DLC.


RealMeat will never be replaced with some mystery goop made of soybean and seaweed powder. You will never have the nutrient diversity of a real living tissue in a mystery goop. And cow body is way more alike to us than seaweed.


I like how you use the term 'goop' to subtly slander something you disagree with.


Substitute value-neutral "substance" for goop, and the meaning is still the same.


FWIW I think he's predicting something which is already beginning to happen. Carl's Jr. (Hardees to you midwestern/east coast folks) recently added Beyond Meat patties to their menu (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-beyond-meat-carl-s-jr-idU...). For a small price extra, you can get a not-farmed-meat burger and they're promoting it pretty heavily.

I dropped in a while back, was surprised to see it on the menu, thought "eh, what the hell", and it was pretty good. I have the kind of palate that would make Gordon Ramsay cry himself to sleep, so I wasn't able to tell the difference between one of their Beyond burgers and one of their regular burgers. Probably helps that their items are a mess of sauces and nonsense too.

Anyway, now when I go back in, I find that I'm having to justify to myself getting a farmed meat burger vs. a Beyond burger, and ... there's not really any justification for it.

I doubt most of Carl's customer base debate personal ethics while staring at the menu, but still, there's no way I'm the only one.


This is also happening at White Castle, where they are selling Impossible Burger Sliders for 1.99. I will say I didn't particularly enjoy it but I will also say I it was the first time I've been to a White Castle when I'm sober, so YMMV.


Impossible is rolling out their 2.0 burger which reviews say is much better.


Funnily enough low quality patties like fast food burgers have been using more soy protein as a filler for a long time. Maybe one day they'll be honest and sell it as 50% vegetarian burgers or something.


National:

McDonalds: "Yes, every patty is 100% real beef with no fillers, additives or preservatives." Burger King: "Our beef patties are made with 100% beef with no fillers, no preservatives, no additives, no nonsense." Wendy's: "100% pure beef across the menu"

Regional:

Carls Jr: "100% Pure Ground Beef." Sonic: "100% pure beef patty" Jack in the Box: "100 percent beef"


Funnily enough, it's the more expensive casual restaurant chain burgers that tend to contain textured soy protein and other things. Fast food is pretty much always 100% beef as others have pointed out.


I've definitely noticed this as someone allergic to soy protein. The big fast-food chains are generally safe. It's fast casual, local diners, and that kind of thing that's the problem for me.


Source? The fast food restaurants I can think of all claim 100% beef patties.


Also cheap dog-food is mostly vegetables or fillers, but that fact never seems to be brought up when vegetarian dogs are discussed.


My last three trips to A&W have been for the Beyond Meat burger. Like you, my palate can't really tell the difference. Like you, I don't see any need to go back to an animal burger.

They've also started carrying them at the local grocer, so I'll probably bring them home for BBQ season.


Ya especially if they can get it for less than the meat burger. Once that happens it will be huge.


I think ground-beef is easier to mimic with vegetarian substitute for whatever reason. Probably because fast food meat is already so weird and processed. Same with vegan sausage/hot dogs versus the meat-based sausage.

Obviously if someone loves eating expensive steak, that would be hard to replace with a vegetarian substitute.


Sonic has mushrooms mixed in with the patties of certain burgers it sells.


In general I’m bullish on biotech but best case for tissue culture meat still leaves me sceptical. Most of the hype focuses around beef substitutes, beef cattle is about as inefficient as animal agriculture gets at ~3% efficient on an energy basis of edible parts.

Dairy jerseys and laying hens are both ~12%, with meat chickens ~15%. The best replicating eukaryotic cell culture I know are certain yeast at 50%. So a best case scenario is factor of 3 improvement, I'd welcome results from multicellular organisms that got anywhere close to that but I haven't seen it.

Supposing there are no improvements to be had on the cell metabolism side; dressing percentage for broiler chickens is 70% so getting rid of brain, digestive tract, immune system, etc. doesn’t improve things that much. Keep in mind that tissue cultures are a lot more picky about feedstock than whole animals. Good luck shovelling hay into that bioreactor. All of the processing that the feedstock takes will claw back your productivity gains and then some.

Margins are slim at the bottom. As capital intensive as modern farming is, biotech puts it to shame. Once you factor in amortizing all that equipment this is a non-starter.

The only appeal is from an animal welfare angle. Even there an argument could be made that humane husbandry is positive-utility rather than the neutral of lab-grown, while also coming out ahead environmentally.


Energy efficiency is interesting, but it is important to see the whole picture. Maybe we should be using a land efficiency rating instead?

Take reindeer meat as an extreme case. Their energy efficiency from converting lichens to meat is not going to be 100%, but the alternative use for artic land are quite few.

Applying the same line of thought, we can find examples also for beef. There are cattle farms here in Sweden that use highland cattle to graze forest areas, including protected forests. They keep down bushes and other plants which results in an increased bio diversity. A win win situation for everyone involved.


Typical cows in the US gain 50% of their meat mass at the feedlot, mostly from eating corn. Also, large parts of our natural environment are degraded by running too many cows on it, including a lot of "protected" areas.

So sure, you can find whatever example you want.


The typical car is diesel and the typical power plant is coal. A lot of typical cases is the worst case scenario or close to it when it come to the environment, because they prioritize the cost aspect over everything else.

Here is a nice policy theory for you. Lets imagine that with magic we could removed all the cost associated with slaughterhouse for the farmer. We could change the whole meat production in Sweden to operate exclusively on land not suitable for any other food production, and that without changing meat prices. The difference between the economics for a highland cattle farm and a cattle farm using feed from farms is by my understanding significant less than the cut that the slaughterhouse take.

It might not be very applicable to the US since large part of Sweden is forests, but it is not hard to find areas in the US which are not suitable for farming. From a land efficiency perspective, I suspect a lot could be done which isn't currently done because of the economics involved.


With reindeers it is probably highly dependent on region. For example in Lapland of Finland there are way too many reindeers than the environment can support, so they are largely kept in pens during winter and fed protein feed, hay, collected lichen, dried feafy branches etc.

Plus Finland produces about 2 million kilos of reindeer meat per year, so it is really miniscule part of the diet.


Very interesting, I did not know that. When people here in Sweden talk about it it is exclusively in the context of the indigenous population in the north of Sweden, where reindeers are presented as free roaming in an area that is about 30% of the whole of Sweden. In raw numbers that is about 200 000 reindeers in the area of around 100 000 km2. I do not know if in practice this still mean that they feed them protein feed and hay.

I do know personally a farmer that operated highland cattle in a nature protected forest. They do need hay during the winter months, but that is about it. For the rest of the year it is water, salt/minerals, and some shelter in case of really bad weather like large thunderstorms. The benefit for the forest is significant and directly noticeable, and looks like a really very well managed open forest. In contrast spruce forests which is the norm in the south part of Sweden tend to be extremely overgrown, which is currently recognize as an major threat to bio diversity. Several species has gone almost extinct because of it. There are a few other nature reservation that also use highland cattle with similar setup.

Technically highland cattle could survive the winter months without hay but it would not be legal.


> Even there an argument could be made that humane husbandry is positive-utility rather than the neutral of lab-grown, while also coming out ahead environmentally.

Can that be true? Animals from U.S. factory farms generate >1 million tons of manure per day (open-air lagoons of animal waste are a special treat) and are responsible for an impressive percentage of methane emissions.


There was a recent freakonomics podcast [1] from which I learned that greenhouse gas emissions mostly come from cattle breathing, not their manure (I guess the manure imagery that often goes along with describing livestock environmental impact is just used because it's evocative?). Also that livestock farming in the US only contributes 3% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions [2], which I wouldn't call a particularly "impressive percentage".

[1]: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/meat/

[2]: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis...


> Also that livestock farming in the US only contributes 3% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions

"Worldwide, livestock accounts for between 14.5 percent and 18 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. The percentage is lower in the United States in part because our overall greenhouse gas emissions are so much higher than other countries"

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/climate/cows-global-warmi...


True, but CharlesW's parent comment was specifically about "U.S. factory farms".

And even 14.5% is significantly lower than what I would have guessed before listening to the episode.


> Can that be true? Animals from U.S. factory farms generate >1 million tons of manure per day

Factory farms probably don't count as "humane husbandry".

I've heard of desertifying areas in the Sahel being made greener again by having goats graze there periodically.


Didn't the poster above say humane animal husbandry? What you describe it not humane animal husbandry.


Please describe sustainable humane animal husbandry at this scale.


We should develop an extremely potent and long lasting opioid that's destroyed by cooking (maybe some peptide could work). It needs to be powerful enough that we can keep the animals constantly high for their entire lives. Alternatively, figure out a practical "wireheading" brain implant with the same effect. Animals do not have any ambitions or desire for self-actualization that would be thwarted by this, and we already assume they have no right to life, so the arguments used against doing this to humans do not apply. With enough drugs/brain stimulation they could be perfectly happy in a factory farm.


Or we could create a meat tax, stop subsidies, create task forces who actually care about animal welfare and do randomized tests regularly so animal abuse can be limited. It would also help, if governments would actively work on making vegetarian/vegan options more lucrative. All of this is a process that could work out well in 15-20 years.

We can, of course, also put animals on drugs so they're high while they live their miserable lives, sure.


Why would they be miserable? Embarrassed by the respectable high-class animals looking down on them for being junkies? Full of regret that they were too high to write that novel, or to travel to a foreign country? Both our plans have the same result: improved quality of life for animals, while still killing them against their wishes. Why not go with the cheaper option?


I want to lessen and limit suffering. If that is what you want as well I doubt your idea here is going to work as it seems like you have a very naive concept of drugs. People who are high, especially when they use drugs frequently, are not constantly enjoying that high or somehow consciously removed from their miserable situation.

Apart from that, I think a key fact about industry farming isn't that we are not able to figure out ways to lessen the suffering of animals. Even relatively cheap options like giving them more room to live is something that is dismissed by the industry after all. I think, the general problem here is a cultural ignorance towards the plight for a multitude of reasons. I think, it's worth more changing this with grand incentives and causing a shift to happen than to find creative solutions that reward greed over suffering.

The question - and this is where we seem to differ - is if we want to live in a world where we accept concepts like gestation crates and want to work around that or where we think that this is beneath us and our values.

Since you seem to have a very simplistic darwinistic approach to life as a "high-class" animal, I'm not really sure we could ever meet anywhere in the middle here.


Farm animals don't have long lives. It's likely possible to continuously escalate the dose such that they'd never have to suffer. If not, wireheading can bypass problems with tolerance.

It looks like our real disagreement is "perfect is the enemy of good". If you don't want animals to be killed for food, then animal suffering is actually a good thing, because animal suffering helps convince people not to farm them. I'm working on the assumption that humans are going to continue killing animals like they've always done, and therefore it's better to reduce suffering with the most effective methods available. If animals are going to be farmed anyway, I'd rather they have access to an unlimited supply of recreational drugs (or equivalent brain modification technology). Animals don't care about the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.


I was not arguing for prolonging the suffering of animals as some method to make people turn away from animal products. I'm not really sure where you seem to have read that in my comment. I don't think that's a fruitful strategy at all and I've never advocated for that.

Some farm animals are killed after a few months, others like dairy cows are used for multiple years. Also, the animal psyche is not that simplistic. Yes, they might not care about the the upper levels of Maslow's model, but they're not stuck on the first one either. Therefore, throwing mind altering drugs at the problem seems like a naive and hardly effective substitute for me for the reasons I've stated earlier.

I think, there are cheap solutions that can improve the lives of these animals today, e.g. more space. But as I argued in my initial comment, I think a cultural shift is necessary (similar to smoking) and this is why I think factory farming needs to be forbidden in the long-term, meat taxes need to be introduced, meat prices need to be raised, government incentives for alternative food products need to be given, etc.


That's a really big question, I think the simplest way to answer is to say, "(Mostly)Let animals be themselves, kill them quickly".

With regard to cows which I know the most about that means letting them eat grass and only providing input when necessary to protect the health of the herd from an unexpected insult, e.g. unexpected drought, or to promote the health of the land. Because I've not tried this on a nationwide scale I can't guarantee that it could be done, but based on the thought I've given to it and my own experience I believe the majority of beef production _could_ be done humanely with the caveat that it would likely be unprofitable to do so given our current economic and cultural landscape.

I don't think dairy can be done humanely at scale for our current consumer price point.


> So a best case scenario is factor of 3 improvement

Isn't the best case scenario that we replace cow-grown beef with lab-grown beef - that is, improved energy efficiency of 50/3 = 17 times?


>Dairy jerseys and laying hens are both ~12%, with meat chickens ~15%.

Does the efficiency for chickens include processing and sanitation? 15% sounds really high. Labs ought to have a much easier time dealing with no feces or feathers. And the price of chicken at present in the US is reputed to depend on undocumented immigrants working for below-market wages, which hopefully isn't an issue with technomeat.

As for dairy/eggs, those alone aren't enough of a meat substitute or we'd all be vegetarian already.


You forgot about antibiotics use - unlike with traditional approach you can grow cell culture in sterile conditions.


Antibiotics are a small enough improvement that they could be phased out without much impact to consumers. If demand were there or externalities accounted for, it would be an easy transition. http://www.sandersonfarms.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ABF...


How do plants compare?


Do you happen to know the efficiency basis for insects?


The usual comparisons are easy to misinterpret since insect productivity is often quoted on a dry weight basis and the data is less robust. But it appears to be as efficient as chicken, or possibly slightly better.


I predict that the biggest market for lab-grown meat (in vitro cultivation) is going to be growing for meat grown from the cells of animals that aren't economical, practical or even legal as meat today.

People seem to be assuming that just because they mostly eat beef and chicken today that they're going to be buying lab grown beef and chicken, but ultimately they only eat that because it's economical to raise those animals with current production methods.

With in vitro cultivation there's no reason you wouldn't have say elephant meat one day, and a blue whale the day after that. You could even have some human meat, it's not like growing some muscle fibers in a test tube is unethical.

Initially there'll be a big market for the novelty of exotic meats, but over the long term it's highly unlikely that the meats we have today optimized for mass production will objectively taste better than potential alternatives, or even that the market will restrict itself to naturally occurring species of animals.

You'll be able to buy tuna with the texture of pork, or any other possible combination of tastes and textures.


Compared to camel, giraffe, horse, zebra, gazelle, whale, dolphin, human, shark, eel, (most) bugs and worms, elephant, ... etc., I've got to say that whoever came up with pigs and cows were doing their job properly. They taste better than all of the above.


Of these, I've eaten horse, whale, shark and eel. Actually, probably I've also eaten bugs.

The shark that I've eaten is perfectly good, and better than many other fish types (taste wise). Eel was good, but has to be prepared appropriately. Try it Japanese style.

The other two, not worth it. But again, probably something to do with preparation. Perhaps the way the French prepare horse is better than the way the Japanese do?

I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to eat human flesh. I'm surprised you've listed it.

Other animals that taste good include crocodile and kangaroo.

My point being, that taste is very subjective. You'll find people who want to eat those flavors, but don't want to eat the real thing.


I lived in Japan for 10 years.

You like roo? I like crock and gator (and snake and squirrel, but not armadillo), but never took a liking to the former.

EDIT: My point is simply: for me... nothing really stacks up to cow flesh.

EDIT2: I suspect we don't disagree about the generic "I've eaten everything, at least once, man" conclusions very much. (Although I still find shark to be about a smelly slab of meat as a bear or a badger. Don't even get me going on pure carnivores like fox or coyote).


I'm actually shocked. Have you tasted basashi (raw horse meat) against raw wagyu (Japanese style beef)? IMHO basashi is much better. It has an almost "super-cow" flavour. One thing that's important, though. Most izakayas don't serve enough basashi to justify having it fresh. They freeze it. Not only that, but they serve it still frozen. Basashi needs to come up to temperature. Similar to beef, frozen horse meat sometimes has a tendency break down and pick up a liver flavour. A lot depends on the way it is slaughtered and bled -- most basashi actually comes from Canada and there are very few slaughter houses in Canada. If you go to Kumamoto and go to an izakaya that specialised in Basashi, you should be able to get good fresh, Japanese horse meat. It's amazing (again IMHO).

Edit: Fix error in describing slaughtering...


Sorry - late responding.

I can't speak to quality. What I had was chilled. I don't know if it was fresh or frozen beforehand. It was nice. But compared to even raw maguro, I don't know if I would have preferred it.

Now - cooked - it's like a steak that you might get in NYC without quite enough fat on it, to melt into the meat.

I have not been to Kumamoto for years (more than a decade?) - I will take you at your word and go do this the next time I go. Thank you.


I'll have to take your word that humans aren't as tasty as pigs or cows.

But coming from somewhere where horses and whales are regularly eaten I can assure you that if you're used to the taste and live in a culture that knows how to prepare those meats that you'd definitely prefer them any many instances.

What diet people prefer has a lot of inertia. If you presented say a Briton in the 1850s with spicy Indian food they wouldn't like it in anything like the numbers their descendants do today. Food's an acquired taste, and takes a while to take hold. So you can't just say try gazelle and declare "meh".

Which goes to the point I'm making. I don't think that in the year 3000 when lab-grown meat is perfect (can grow muscle fiber, bone, fat etc.) and indistinguishable from the "real" thing nobody will order up pork or beef.

Rather, there's going to be the same growth in different sorts of products at the expense of the absolute market share of any one incumbent as we see in beer, soft drinks cookies etc. for the past decades.

Now that by-and-large doesn't happen with meats because raising live animals presents you with all sorts of scalability and production limitations.


Camel, horse, shark & eel are pretty common foods.

Shark, in australia, is the most common fish-and-chips. It tastes/feels in the neighborhood of cod, the white flaky sea fish that even unadventurous eaters like. Eel & camel are popular but not economical to produce.

Beef is, IMO, one of the blandest red meats. I prefer venison and much prefer mutton.


I wonder if they produced human lab-grown-meat, how many people would eat it out of curiosity.


> or even legal

Food of the Gods, by Arthur C Clarke (1964)

https://write.as/r9ov30n76ib5u.md


I was brought up vegetarian, and while I gave it up when I got married and had kids, I've never really grown to love the taste of meat. The thing I'm most annoyed by is that nice tasting veggie dishes are often being replaced in restaurants with horrible tasting meat-substitute dishes trying to capture the taste of beef or whatever. This is probably just me against the universe though.


I'm on the opposite side of this. I've eaten meat for the first 23 years of my life, but my current partner is vegan. A large part of our relationship has been discovering that vegetables are actually good to eat when they're not an afterthought to a meal. I go out of my way to try the meat substitutes now, because I'm holding out that one of them will actually be good enough for me to show my carnivore friends.

For many years, I've wanted to try being vegetarian as a way to reduce my environmental impact. To me, meat substitutes are the last missing piece in the puzzle, the piece that shows that its possible to consume staples like hamburgers or spaghetti and meatballs.

Not all of the meat substitutes are good. Not all of them have to be. But a more sustainable future, where meat (and especially seafood) are cultivated in a way that has a less harmful impact on the environment, is a future that I want to help facilitate.


As a long time vegetarian and off-and-on vegan, I suspect you'll be less disappointed if you look for and cook meals that just don't include meat, rather than substituting it for something else. There are tons of them, and many are incredibly tasty.

Indian restaurants, for example, often have entire sections of the menu that are vegan or vegetarian without substituting in fake meat.

It's a little more work initially, but after a while you won't miss the meat, whereas if you're eating fake burgers you're going to be reminded they're fake every time you eat one.


I found transitioning to vegan to be almost impossible when I stuck to my old meal routine. All my meals had the same fundamental, irreplaceable component; meat. Chicken and fries. Steak and veg. Slow-cooked beef stew. Bangers and Mash. Fish and chips. Burgers. Pizza. Wings. Veg was a side thought. I tried at first to replace all this with plant 'replacements' but kept failing miserably.

After some research on what vegans actually eat, not what I thought they ate, I swapped to a diet of porridge, curries, chillis, stir-frys, stews, pastas, soups, and salads, which were meals I loved and could do easy, mostly in one pot. At first I could have the meat I craved, but over time I could do a straight 1:1 swap of meat for peas, beans, seeds, nuts and lentils, without tarnishing the quality of the meal.

People fail at the first hurdle when they try to replace a bacon sandwich, pizza, hamburger or steak with something that is a fundamentally different food. Replacing bacon with a sliced mushroom is like trying to replace a water pipe with some electrical wire. They're both great, but for different things. Likewise, replacing some berries in a bowl of cereal with pork cutlets or a fried egg would likely make you a guest on Strange Eaters. It works both ways.

If I've discovered anything during my lifestyle change, it's that eating is 95% habitual, and any argument I had against vegans in hindsight was because I didn't want to have to break out of my habit. I now have no interest in eating meat again, because I'm in a new habit and to have a steak would be breaking out of that again.


At risk of sparking an ethics debate, why do most people who turn vegetarian out of conscientiousness seem to very disproportionately do it for environmental reasons?

I mean, on one hand, it makes complete rational sense, because it's self/species-interest: reduced meat consumption should decrease the effects of global warming and other issues, and you want a world that you and future generations of people can safely and healthily live in. I get it.

But are you then still not doing it for selfish reasons, or at least species-selfish reasons? If hypothetically some new technology could suck all of the excess carbon out of the atmosphere and replant things and otherwise 100% negate all of the environmental effects of all the different kinds of meat production, would you and other vegetarians with similar motivations no longer feel any reason, or ethical obligation, to be vegetarian?


>why do most people who turn vegetarian out of conscientiousness seem to very disproportionately do it for environmental reasons? ...are you then still not doing it for selfish reasons, or at least species-selfish reasons?

You seem to have answered your own question there. It shouldn't be surprising, although yes, it surprises me too I guess. (I became vegan because..how to put it..Humans have no right to treat animals as if their lives are nothing, as if they're just things for humans to eat, if we can easily avoid it. Which I can. I'd rather not be killed, and want to avoid pain, so I figure non-human animals want that too.)


I don't think your premise is correct. The data I can find[1][2] suggests that vegetarians and vegans are principally concerned with animal ethics.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257659/

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/cm/lb/10062622/data/veganuary-infogra...


Hunting is most likely the best option from an animal ethics standpoint. Although it doesn't scale well. But make that point to a vegan and suddenly they're vegan primarily for environmental concerns.


Why is hunting better than being vegan?


As someone who doesn't eat meat or dairy I've heard the argument that the environmental impact would be less than a vegan that lives in a city.

The argument being that a hunter is killing an animal that lived naturally is less of an environmental impact than getting food packaged and sent across the country, etc.

I'm not sure I agree, but it's the most plausible argument I've seen for not being Vegan.


> getting food packaged and sent across the country

You missed the biggest factor: industrial farming. Have you been to the midwest-does that look like a healthy, natural ecosystem? A vegan (well, most people really ) who lives there gets their food from the same place as one in the city.

I'm not sure any form of food production/gathering, at the scale needed today, would look any better though.


Farming at any scale results in unintended animal deaths, serving no purpose other than to "get out of the way" so we can farm here.

Hunting results in the death of a single animal, and that animal is then directly used for food. There is virtually no environmental impact as a result of well regulated hunting.


A vegan would argue that the death of a single animal should be prevented if at all possible. They would probably argue that hunting is much more ethical than factory farming, but still very unethical.


I know, I've had these arguments. But it's asinine because it is quite literally impossible for any human to exist without animals dying as a result of it. There are a small percentage of vegans that are convinced that their existence results in zero animal deaths. These people are delusional. Luckily there aren't many of them.

The reasonable vegans admit that it's a matter of causing as little animal death or suffering as possible. And then some percentage of what I've deemed "reasonable vegans" will also agree that hunting is about as good as any other options.


I'd like to think I fall in the "reasonable vegan" category. I know it's impossible for humans to prevent all possible animal deaths.

But there's a massive gap between hunting and not killing and eating animals for food at all. Of course I'd prefer if factory farming was replaced with hunting, but I'd prefer even more if synthetic meat were the norm and raising or killing animals for food just wasn't even part of the equation anymore (as PG, and others, are predicting).

As a human animal, I'd certainly rather live ~50% of my expected natural life in the wild and have it end in an instant from a weapon than be born in crammed captivity and force-fed horrible anti-biotic-laden meal for years for some higher-intelligence extraterrestrial species to consume, sure. But even though it's preferable, I still don't want to be shot and killed, even if I knew with certainty that my death was going to be short and painless.

Similar to PG, I predict killing animals for sport or for food will be considered very taboo within a century. At least in Western countries.


It's almost as if other people disagree about what the best option for their personal viewpoint is.


I just think it's all more complicated than people want it to be. Some choices in life MIGHT have a slight net positive on the environment or on animals deaths. But then people get so invested in the outcomes that they paint it as completely black and white.


Everything that lives is going to die. And everything that dies is going to get eaten. It's just a matter of circumstances and subjects.


No, the differences are very big, real and well documented.


I briefly looked at those links. The first one, "Beliefs and Attitudes toward Vegetarian Lifestyle across Generations", says in the introduction

"Younger people significantly agreed more with the moral reason and with the environmental reason. People ages 41–60 significantly agreed more with the health reason. [i.e. not in absolute terms, just compared with other age groups]

A study publish[sic] in 1992 found that the highest number of vegetarians, 46 percent, chose a vegetarian diet for health reasons, 15 percent chose to be a vegetarian for animal rights reasons, 12 percent for friend/family influence, 5 percent for ethical reasons, 4 percent for environmental issues and 18 percent indicated other reasons.."

Their study:

"The objective of the study was to examine whether reasons to adopt vegetarian lifestyle differ significantly among generations. ...This cross-sectional, observational study was completed at Andrews University which is a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) institution of higher learning. SDA represent a unique population known for their wide range of dietary habits. This conservative religious group prohibits the use of alcohol, tobacco, and pork and recommends that members adhere to lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. ...Participants were drawn from a large undergraduate introductory-level nutrition class that is open to students from all academic directions."

So, 609 people at a Seventh-Day Adventist college who'd signed up for a nutrition class. That seems a super-bizarre, unrepresentative group to study for the purpose. And in Figure 1, the "Health" reason seems to be the strongest reason given, for every age group.

The other link is to a picture, which seems to be an Australian event, Veganuary, I guess trying to get people to sign up to be vegan in January? Anyway, that says people who signed up for that gave 43% "animals" and 39% "health" reasons, 10% environment, 8% other. They're mostly not vegetarians or vegans, it also says in the picture.

Neither of those two, and particularly not the first, seem to suggest that vegetarians and vegans are principally concerned with animal ethics - even if one assumes they're what they're not, perfectly representative of the beliefs of the entire population of the planet, or your country, or whatever region you're talking about. Still, they were interesting, thanks.


You know, I actually agree somewhat. I almost noted that I was having trouble finding more reliable sources, particularly concerning vegetarianism and veganism in the USA, but thought that would have completely torpedoed my argument. ;)

More seriously: the "environmental" claim rang hollow to me, so I set out in search of some facts, and I think what I found supports that intuition, but the burden of proof is not really mine. (I will retract my "it's animal ethics yo" statement—clearly a reach.)


The burden of proof should've been on me, for sure. I was going off of anecdote. Now I'm not so sure on what the actual percentages are, though I do still think that description probably does apply to a large number of vegetarians and perhaps vegans.


Thank you, interesting. I shouldn't rely so much on anecdata.


I think the spark that starts the vegan is one reason but as the transition happens you start embracing more of the arguments for veganism.

I decided to switch to a plant based diet for environmental reasons. I calculated my carbon footprint and noticed I could cut it in half by excluding animal products, so I did. Then I learned the health effects by losing weight and stopped having migranes I previously had approximately bi-weekly since late adolescence. They just stopped. The energy dips I used to have after lunch? Gone. Breath smells better. PH balance restored from being way too acid. There are so many things that are just fixed by eating plants instead of animal based products. I also learned to love that there is no bone, sinew or thick rubbery fat in whatever I'm chewing. I used to hate fish bones or a piece of fat in a steak or burger I'd have to spit out in a napkin.

Then it started to dawn on me how inhumane I'd been to other species on the ground of them being a part of my diet. I've always loved animals and the outdoors but some animals I'd been okay with murdering and eating. It just felt hypocritical. Not to mention that my argument for it was that _it tastes good_. Who do I think I am? Scaring and killing living beings because they _taste good_? Fuck me. I don't want to support an industry based on the evil premise of destroying the planet by killing animals because they taste good so from now my money will go to my plant based diet. Less money than before, I might add.


I think it is hard to claim that you care about the animals and ethics once you realise what goes on to produce milk or eggs which is what most vegetarians (lacto-ovo-vegetarians, really) consume and support.


I do it for selfish reasons. Veggies are cheap and easy to grow and full of minerals and protein. And high fibre legumes and grains are really good for gut bacteria

Not anti meat, just pro plants


As someone who is a "save the planet" vegetarian, I am mystified by your comment. No, I wouldn't start eating meat if there was a magic machine that sucked carbon out of the atmosphere, and I am not claiming my personal reasons for not eating meat are somehow not selfish.

But most of all, that's not the only reason I'm a vegetarian.

I don't think you're going to end up with a good discussion if you start it like this.


I know people have many different reasons for becoming vegetarian and that the poster I was replying to was not necessarily implying it was their sole reason. But it was clearly their primary reason, and it seems to very often be people's primary or sole reason.

And to be clear, I also have no problem with people doing it for selfish reasons.


Speaking from personal experience as someone who often seems that way, it's because environmentalism is a rational argument that people can easily approach without having the urge to defend their own morality (which doesn't make for great dinner conversation).


Why did you expect a vegetarian to be less selfish than anyone else?


As a staunch lover of meat I am fundamentally against meat substitutes. I love vegetarian dishes and eat them often, but I will not touch a meat substitute if I can avoid it. Many asian foods include tofu and that’s fine.

My reasoning is that if a dish is supposed to be vegetarian, or it just doesn’t include mat because it doesn’t need to, then keep it vegetarian. Veggies are delicious. Why ruin a perfectly good dish with fake meat?

If a dish is meant to include meat, then just use meat. It has different macros and very different taste than current meat substitutes. Why ruin a perfectly good dish with fake meat?

If you’re gonna not eat meat all the power to ya, don’t eat meat. But don’t then try to replicate meat with not-meat that’s just lazy. Explore the world of proper vegetarian and vegan dishes. You might be pleasantly surprised by how great they are.


> But don’t then try to replicate meat with not-meat that’s just lazy.

Considering the amount of effort going into developing meat substitutes, "lazy" seems like a strange characterization. Besides, if someone has decided for reasons external to taste that they're not going to eat meat but they miss it, why shouldn't they try meat substitutes?


I know meta-discussion on HN is frowned upon, but seriously, I just have to ask those who down-voted this comment: why? Just... why? What is the problem with this sentiment with respect to its contribution to this thread?

If it helps, I think this is a reasonable point (don't try to fake the meat, just skip it - i've thought it myself often).

I haven't commented in here in SO LONG, and I know I will pay for the insurrection of asking the invisible commenters to justify yourselves, but I just can't help it because I do not understand how down-voting this is justifiable in any way with respect to content moderation.


Because it's making this statement about what others should do based on a personal preference, and not taking into account at all why people stop eating meat?

As someone who was raised vegetarian I also have next to no interest in meat replacements personally, but they should be great for people who love the taste of meat but want to give it up for ethical/environmental reasons.


This reply is worth a thousand down-votes. I see where you are coming from and I appreciate that you shared it in words, not just a click on a down arrow. Thank you.

But I still think the down-voters are taking it personally. I don't believe anyone is actually being chastised for their position by this commenter. I took it as offering another option - instead of telling someone who likes meat that you have a great substitute that tastes just like meat and they'll never know the difference, try saying "there are many ways to prepare any of a large variety of vegetables - maybe you can enjoy vegetables as much as you enjoy meat if you find some recipes you like". Maybe those dishes will taste "meat-like" or whatever, but there is value in saying "Stop trying to fake it. Embrace the choice to do it differently."

For the record, I personally believe that this is a more honest tack for someone who is pursuing the option for ethical/environmental reasons.


Why must I not fake it? Who cares? If someone wants to eat meat substitute, who are you to tell them otherwise?

You sounds like when the LED lightbulb that reduces energy usages of the old light bulb by 100 times, you will say "Why fake it? If you want to reduce energy usage, you must live without electriciy! Using newer, more energy efficient light bulb just means you don't save the world the true way".


I think your analogy is poor - an LED does not produce fake light. Is a candle fake light compared to the sun?

But anyway, you missed the point - I am not telling you what to do. I am simply suggesting the alternative of "not faking it" by adding to a comment I felt was doing the same. If you feel like you are being told what to do, I apologize.


I think this post by Dan G. the other day both supports your hypotheses (about the down votes) and undermines it. Either way, I recommend reading it.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19214965


Informative. Thanks for sharing!


As a meat eater I fully agree. If it's going to be made of vegetables, fine. But I'm put off by foods pretending to be something they're not.


Penn of Penn and Teller discussed on his podcast how he stopped eating meat and had a similar stance on foods pretending to be meat. Then he was compelled to try a particular meat substitute and discovered that it was actually not just trying to be meat but was actually better than meat - meat has grisle and bits you don’t really want to eat, the substitute is only “the good stuff.” Better texture, etc.

It was an eye opening anecdote for me (as a meat eater).


One of my worst meals ever was a vegetarian Asian meal in Salt Lake City. The dish was “Chicken...” something or other. The “chicken” was tofu shaped like a chicken wing with feathers. No where on the menu did it say the place was vegetarian.

I have nothing against eating tofu. I enjoy tofu. But the bait and switch ruined the meal for me.


These restaurants are somewhat common, and are usually run by Buddhists. I've never seen one that lacked a label; while the individual menu items might be confusing, there's usually a big clue.

Here's the one near my apartment, it has vegan in the name of the restaurant: http://www.gardenfresh.us/


I can't speak to the general quality of these restaurants, but I actually go to the Garden Fresh in Palo Alto pretty regularly and love it (I've heard the Mountain View location isn't quite as good).


Best Thai restaurant outside Thailand I’ve ever been to is called Plumeria in San Diego — it’s completely vegetarian (optional egg) with meat-like substitues.

I never order chicken satay as an appetizer (even in Thailand) as I usually find it bland, the texture too dry, and generally boring — but I will always order the “chicken” satay from Plumeria ... better than meat.


So your problem is because it taste worse, and not like chicken. Your problem is not because it's made from vegetable.


As a meat eater, yeah, agree. My wife and I have reduced our meat consumption by ~50% over the last few years, and we've done it mostly by finding dishes that were veg*n to start with, as opposed to meat substitutes.


> that nice tasting veggie dishes are often being replaced in restaurants with horrible tasting meat-substitute dishes

Ha, this is a problem my wife has started having after impossible burger became popular in the bay area. All our favorite burger joints now serve that, instead of the brilliant vegan burgers they used to have (including my workplace).


I was brought up omnivore and have been vegetarian since August 2018 and love the meat substitutes. Beyond Burgers and Field Roast sausages helped me with the transition to plant based.


I've met a lot of vegetarians and vegans, and they're about 50/50 as to whether they want to eat meat-like things.

And yeah, there are several restaurants I stopped eating at because they replaced perfectly fine veggie dishes with things that were more meat-like.


The target market niche for meat substitutes is very plainly not former vegetarians who don’t like the taste of meat.


Yes, I'm aware of this, and I realise I am just an old man shouting at a particularly niche cloud. But many restaurants are foregoing some variety in vegetarian dishes that they previously had to offer meat substitutes. I happened to quite like a lot of veggie burgers, for example, but I do not like the faux beef burgers that have replaced them in some places.


So much this.

I am a meal eater with a majority vegetarian friends group, so I inevitably cook a lot of veg food.

Greek, Indian, Thai and Chinese customers lend themselves really well to vegetarianism and I'm surprised that it isn't catching on in the US. (Especially Indian)

Meat substitutes don't hold a candle to a single one of these for items.

I've tried the current state of the art in meat substitutes ( impossible) and it's still bad.


Some Buddhist monks are known to make plant protein taste like meat and resemble the texture of meat. These are served with regular vegetables. Anyhow, some are better than others. Of course palates are quite personal.


I sometimes taste Raw meat to make sure its fresh. Its pretty much tasteless. Its all about how its prepared.


You can make a brother with nothing but meat and salt and it will be flavorful. That's a big part of why making meat substitutes is so hard.


This is what lifelong meat eaters experience, but I just can't comprehend. There is no meat that on its own is particularly tasty to me. Chicken, at its absolute best, tastes like a disappointing roast chestnut. What's worse is meat doesn't really marinade as well as everyone makes out, so often I'll be enjoying a dish but I keep chewing and realise I just like the sauce and then that fades and - yuck - you're left with meat.

Again, this is my very narrow experience as a vegetarian who lapsed well into adulthood and just didn't learn an appreciation of the savoury flavours involved. Objectively it's clearly people love the taste of meat.


Chicken is about the worst meat to eat on its own, especially if you are baking boneless skinless chicken breasts. Dark chicken meat has actual flavor, so thighs and drumsticks are probably your best bet.

If you want good meat with no extra flavoring I recommend good steak (like the $60+ steak you can get at a nice steakhouse). Pulled pork is also good, though it's usually somewhat flavored, doesn't necessarily need to be. Lamb prepared gyro style is pretty good. Pretty much any meat will taste better grilled than baked in an oven too.


Again, we just have differently wired taste buds at this point, this stuff is wasted on me, and I do feel genuine sadness about it.


+1

I'm a lifelong vegetarian who has very literal tolerance for the taste of meat. Can we give it up with these meat substitutes already? Even if they absolutely nail the taste of real meat, I don't want my food to taste like that.


> Can we give it up with these meat substitutes already?

Who should give up on them? The people who like them? The manufacturers? There's clearly a market for good-tasting meat substitutes. If they serve enough peoples' wants and are nutritious while being better from an environmental perspective, why not just live and let live?


Let me tell you as a lapsed vegetarian, the worst thing isn't even the taste - these people eat stuff that doesn't even dissolve in your mouth. The first time I had lamb, I just chewed for about five minutes before realising I was going to have to overcome my gag reflex to force this tasteless brown stuff down. I'd be horrified if we started replicating _that_.


There are many industrial complexes at play that's putting a constant negative pressure on the quality of our lives, including the quality of our food and food availability.


Maybe it's my rural background and associations, but I see a powerful psychological effect to eating meat from a real animal, and that won't disappear because some meat substitute tastes pretty good. I like falafel, I like shiitake mushrooms, I like a good veggie burger, but there's no substitute for the flesh of an animal — especially one I raised, where I know its diet, its experiences, and how it was slaughtered and butchered. I feel like I'd lose something essentially human in giving that up.


Maybe it's my rural background and associations...

Almost certainly. People tend to feel that however they grew up is the one right and true way to live. It can be an extremely difficult feeling to escape, even in cases where they actively very much want to leave it behind and live some other way, for example people who were abused and are in therapy and trying hard to find a better way to live.


I don’t think the parent commenter is claiming that his/her way of life is “the one right and true way.” I think the point is that people’s own preferences are influenced by how they grew up and thus changing their diets dramatically will not be so simple.


I think the point is that people’s own preferences are influenced by how they grew up and thus changing their diets dramatically will not be so simple.

A point I was 100% agreeing with, so I'm not sure what your point is.


By 'we' - he means essentially every culture and most humans throughout history.

We are essentially omnivorous by nature.

We mostly all ate meat, not just 'some rural people'.

We literally evolved around it, so it's part of our composition in a very, very fundamental way.


Can you explain what you mean with 'psychological effect'?

And what exactly of eating the flesh of another animal makes you human.

I can understand our ancestors having to hunt and kill animals to survive.

But I don't think modern society needs to kill so many animals (billions) and destroy the environment to survive. It's a rather inefficient way to feed the world.


That's where I see meat going in the next few decades. Most meat eating right now is mindless and low quality and convenient. Definitely not some farm-to-table experience.


I agree, my "loyalty" to meat is strong, but irrational, even after I was a strict vegetarian for 7 years (a long time ago). If someone brought me something that just tastes better, they'd also have to make a convincing case of better nutritional benefits and that's not really a field with stable results and opinions. Price has nothing to do with it at all...


Many vegans see a powerful psychological effect to eating meat from a real animal -- you probably weren't thinking of them as examples of people like you!


> there's no substitute for the flesh of an animal — especially one I raised, where I know its diet, its experiences, and how it was slaughtered and butchered

When PG said eating meat might sound perverse one day, it's hard to imagine how a comment like this might come across. I'm not a vegetarian and even I find it difficult to differentiate between the above justifications and the ravings of a serial killer.


Please don't take HN threads further into flamewar. Instead, take this guideline to heart:

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Oh, you see, that's easy — a serial killer kills people. Is it maybe more moral not to think about where your meat comes from? If you are eating meat, but you can't contemplate the death of the animal that provided it, maybe you're not as morally elevated as you think.


Note that I said nothing about morals or being morally elevated. Just that what you said could have been a line from Silence of the Lambs.

I think it's our automatic defensiveness about having our morals questioned that leads to all these strange, weak arguments (e.g. "powerful psychological effect to eating meat").

Instead of doubling down on our position to mentally justify our possible transgressions, one alternate possibility is to recognize the real negative impacts of our actions and work towards limiting our meat consumption and promoting substitutes.

As an aside, based off of what you said about falafels and shiitake mushrooms, it sounds like you maybe haven't tried a lot of common meat substitutes that are already difficult to distinguish from processed meats (things like Morning Star Grillers Original that I've gotten from a bunch of grocery stores).


That's an interesting response, and one that would make sense from a vegetarian. But you ignore the main point of my reply: I eat meat with the ramifications of my actions in full view, and you eat meat even though you find the thought of the animals previous life and death comparable to the musings of a serial killer. Then, having made that comparison, you suggest that you weren't discussing morals.

What, pray tell, was the point of comparing my motivations to those of a serial killer, if not to make a suggestion as to the morality of my reasoning? I welcome a discussion of morality; I'd hold that it's key to the matter of eating animals.

(As to your aside, I've tried a number of those products, and they are just fine. So is homemade seitan. But they provide a different experience from meat, for the "strange, weak" reason I related above.)


There are a lot of things we do out of convenience that we don't delight in, like walking over ants. There's a distinct difference between welcoming an easy alternative to walking over ants and delighting in squishing them under your feet (regardless of how brazenly you celebrate your actions).


Are you suggesting that you eat meat because paying $10/pound for a mediocre steak that gives you the moral willies is honestly more convenient than buying a can of beans and taking a vitamin supplement? I'm saying I delight in eating the flesh of an animal, and that knowing I gave it a comfortable, healthy life and a merciful death contributes to that pleasure.

Your reasoning is pretty waffly and evasive to serve as a basis for comparing someone to a serial killer — which, as you may have noticed, I resent, as I consider almost anyone would.


> Are you suggesting that eating meat because paying $10/pound for a mediocre steak that gives you the moral willies is honestly more convenient than buying a can of beans and taking a vitamin supplement?

Humans naturally enjoy meat. As such, we have to go out of our way and sacrifice a little enjoyment if we want to be vegetarians (which I believe is the true reason you argue for meat). I don't really follow your argument that it would be more convenient to avoid all meat in our society in exchange for a can of beans and a vitamin. The crux of what PG was saying is that making it more convenient to avoid meat will lead to less meat consumption, which is hard to argue with.

> I'm saying I delight in eating the flesh of an animal, and that knowing I gave it a comfortable, healthy life and a merciful death contributes to that pleasure. Your reasoning is pretty waffly and evasive to serve as a basis for comparing someone to a serial killer — which, as you may have noticed, I resent, as I consider almost anyone would.

That resentment is what I previously referred to defensiveness of having your morals questioned. Of course you resent comparisons to your actions to things society has already deemed inappropriate. Whether those comparisons are justified or not is up to you (and society), but you don't make it easy on yourself with your particular brand of justifications (which sound deranged). Imagine if you raised a child or pet dog, cut them open and ate them with the justification "that knowing I gave it a comfortable, healthy life and a merciful death contributes to that pleasure". The difference between murdering your pet dog and a pet pig are very slim in our society already, so I wonder how you'd imagine you sound if you just drew the line a little bit differently.


> That resentment is what I previously referred to defensiveness of having your morals questioned.

You mean when you compared my thinking to that of a serial killer, and called them hard to distinguish? Which, as I've expressed, is a conversational gambit unlikely to arouse sympathy? Yes, I found that put me on the defensive a bit. Did you notice that it didn't make me suddenly see your point in a blinding Damascus flash of light?


Here in is what triggered the negative reaction to your most-parent comment.

> There's no substitute for the flesh of an animal — especially one I raised, where I know its diet, its experiences, and how it was slaughtered and butchered

> I'm saying I delight in eating the flesh of an animal, and that knowing I gave it a comfortable, healthy life and a merciful death contributes to that pleasure.

The former comment can be misconstrued to mean that 1) you revel in the power you have over animals you raise or 2) you enjoy the process of slaughtering an animal, in of itself.

The latter comment makes it clear that your intent is to give animals the best life possible (given your decision to eat meat).


We don't give our golden retrievers a comfortable life and then kill and eat them. They don't want to die for that. Why do we treat pigs and cows differently? Pigs have even scored higher than dogs on some intelligence tests. I found Melanie Joy's book on the related human history and psychology helpful here: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows.


On the contrary, contemplating the death of the animal that provided it is the primary reason I am compelled to eat less meat. I find it difficult to imagine that contemplating the death of an animal might have any other effect.


It sounds like you're attacking the parent commenter's morality as a way of defending your own actions' morality.

However, it's entirely possible that both parent commenter's actions AND your actions are immoral. In other words, the claim that "ignorant meat eating" is immoral doesn't make "aware meat eating" moral.

I think one argument you could make is that animals are somehow not worthy of the same just actions we deem humans to worthy of. But, if we value animals to the same degree we value humans, most ppl would deem your actions to be immoral.


I'm sorry anyone brought out a serial killer comparison. Our dominant culture for decades has provided the belief that eating animals is natural, normal and necessary.

Some plant-based advocates suffer from amnesia where they forget they ever ate meat, along with the beliefs they held at the time to justify it.


People are sentient beings. Animals we kill and eat are sentient beings.


One thing i’d genuinely like to see more of in the US is easy and sanely priced access to wild game.

Deer populations being what they are, and populations of environmentally troublesome species such as feral boars being what they are, it seems like a net win.

i would love to be able to get my hands on venison or boar that’s been processed in a USDA-approved way, because the meat’s high quality, the animals had lives entirely free of cages and farms, and we really do kind of need to balance out herd sizes in the northeast.

it is currently a regulatory nightmare to do this at scale, which is why nobody does. I can solve my own problem with a 6 week wait and a slug gun, but it’d be nice to address the conservation need at a more moderate scale.


I live in New Zealand, and I recently switched basically entirely over to wild game for red meat. I can buy it in my local supermarket, it's more expensive than cheap meat but actually less than the high-welfare farmed meat that I bought previously. It's also very tasty. I'll probably start ordering directly from the provider (http://www.game-meats.co.nz/) soon since they offer a much wider range of products than the supermarket has.

Here in New Zealand there's an additional bonus that deer and boar are invasive introduced species which are considered noxious pests, so I like supporting an industry which controls them.


What a coincidence. In the US they are also pests, often regulated under relaxed hunting laws. Them and certain varieties of rabbits.


> One thing i’d genuinely like to see more of in the US is easy and sanely priced access to wild game.

That could pose a problem with Chronic Wasting Disease (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_wasting_disease). Prion illnesses are no joke, so widespread consumption of wild game in North America presents a small but concerning risk of spreading the disease to humans.


Chronic wasting disease wouldn't affect wild hogs, though, and wild hogs are destroying the environment in Texas.


The people in Texas are doing far more damage to the environment than any number of hogs could.


That doesn't make your parent comment wrong, though.


If you honestly believe hogs are destroying the environment in Texas, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s about as hyperbolic as it gets.



Do you honestly believe that hogs are destroying the environment of Texas?

If so, then I guess we have different definitions of “destroying the environment.” Some damaged farmland, a few possible fishkills, and some erosion are blips on the radar compared to the damage done by industrial farming, suburban sprawl, oil companies, etc.

I guess it is nice to have a scapegoat though — or in this case a scape-hog.


Arby’s has done venison sandwiches but of course it’s farmed meat.

Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin hunters take 300,000 deer each season, each state probably has 4-5 times that total population.

To put that into perspective, the USA slaughters something like 40 million cattle per year.


From my understanding many fast food chains shy away from using hunted meat for supply chain reasons.


The problem is that if it becomes profitable then the "wild" game will slowly transition into farming.


it’s already happened, but supply is low and prices are correspondingly exorbitant.


Deer and pig populations are indeed out of control in many places due to a lack of predators. More hunters are needed. An intriguing example of pest control was a series of videos of wild hog hunting in the most Texan way possible: from a helicopter. Exterminating 80-100 hogs per flight! Hopefully something is being done with all of that pork, but I do imagine regulation makes it very very hard to sell.


I know some folks give it to charities. Others eat it. But a lot gets wasted. Ultimately they're pests, so wanton waste doesn't apply.


This seems like a problem that could be easily solved by reintroducing wolves. Of course, then you have two problems.


Wolves tend to leave people alone. Bears on the other hand...


Wolves are the classic problem in ecology because while they have clear and obvious benefits to the ecosystem, people are really freaked out by them. And ranchers tend to think of any livestock theft as deserving of capital punishment. It's almost impossible to have a rational discussion about any of our fellow apex predators.


In most (all?) states in the US selling hunted game, such as deer or boar, is illegal.

Conflicted opinions on this. I very strongly support the right to hunt, and also find it vastly more humane for the animals. On top of this I also tend to take a libertarian slant on most things. However, in this specific case you have a textbook tragedy of the commons waiting to happen. The reason game is so widespread is specifically because of these laws. When it was legal to hunt and sell game meat/products we hunted numerous species far beyond sustainability.

Maybe one solution would be to offer limited vouchers that enable an individual hunter to market some fixed amount of game -- not all that different from how wild fishing/crabbing/etc is handled. But I think it's clear that without extremely judicious management here you'd likely see over-hunting rapidly take hold, and that's no good for hunter, animal, or society.


it’s not illegal to sell game meat per se, but the hoops you have to jump through are (probably intentionally) prohibitive.

it’s illegal to sell anything without a USDA stamp on it, and economy of scale means that it’s not profitable to have an inspected and cleared process and processing facilities just for game.

Other perfectly reasonable nations don’t do this—and in part due to the fact that deer are an invasive pest in New Zealand, you can buy wild game meat pies in gas stations for about 3 bucks there.


Doesn't the US already have hunting seasons and quotas?


It does, but we're talking about seriously overpopulated animals which are destroying ecosystems - wild pigs are the biggest concern there. For those, even where there are permits, there usually aren't quotas. And despite no limits, there aren't enough hunters to keep them in check.


I'm a vegetarian, but I think he's underestimating the cultural significance of meat for a lot of people. As a male, I've seen a fusion between meat and perceived masculinity at many BBQs. It's on par with owning a gun or driving a big truck, etc. It's more than a food, it's often used as bonding ritual for men.

Sure, pockets of New England, California and other liberal towns might widely adopt meat substitutes but I wouldn't be surprised if many other communities don't.

Asking them to give up meat is like asking them to give up part of their identity. I don't think price will change things, only a cultural shift.


You can grill impossible burger just fine.


And there are tons of cars that work just fine and use less gas but people still buy SUVs.

Price and mechanics will move some people but don't underestimate how strong culture is.

Plus it's veggie patties or the Impossible Burger gets locked with hippies, vegans, California, liberals, etc. there will be tons of people who will never touch it.


Never is a strong word; especially when people idolise high end athletes that turn to a vegan diet for an edge (i.e. MMA)


> there will be tons of people who will never touch it

Having spent some time in the southern central U.S. in the past, this is right on the money. Preserving the cornerstones of the culture they grew up with is orders of magnitude more important to some of these people than just about any other criteria.

However, their children are increasingly realizing the ridiculousness of it and making smarter choices. This results in them doubling down, further entrenching themselves and becoming more alienated from 'outsiders'. Eventually it will stabilize down to a handful of freaks left with their little collection of hobbies they manage to get a tiny fraction of folks interested in every generation, and the rest of the world will have long since moved on.


It's funny how different aspects of one's identity hang together. You'd think that diet should have little to do with someone's views on politics or gender, but when I learned that Jordan Peterson adhered to an all beef diet, I thought "Yeah, sounds about right."


It's very difficult having a conversation with his fans, I learned.


There is also (perhaps unsurprisingly) a sustained criticism of the meat industry from vegan feminist academia, which links it not only to the idea of meat as something masculine, but also the way we speak of women and meat (or even food in general), from "fine piece" to "chick"/"bird", "cow", "Christmas cake" etc. This is further linked to the exploitation of female animals. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the main proponent of the theory right now.


He’s talking about meat stand-ins, things designed to mimic meat in every way. Definitely a market for that.

But fantastic meat substitutes already exist. I’m not vegetarian but never order meat with Indian or Chinese or Thai food and am thrilled with so-called mock duck, chicken and even fish. And when that’s not available, tofu does the job. At home, bolognese, tacos or chili with fake ground beef are awesome and I look forward to those being on menus too. I agree we’re at a tipping point.


Seitan is nice! A lot of americans who are in the demographic to be into substitute meat won't touch it because it is literally a blob of gluten with sauce.


Seitan and tempeh are by far the tastiest "substitute meats" because they don't really try to morph into a "nugget" or a "burger" but just show what that plant protein is like at its best


Surprised you lump those together. Seitan is the best, but I've never found a tempeh recipe we can tolerate.


I’m in Indonesia at the moment, where tempeh is a food, not a ‘meat substitute’.

I enjoy it quite a bit, it has a mild mushroomy flavour and a nice texture.

Consider frying it and serving with a coconut curry sauce or a sambal. Don’t think of it as meat or use it as a meat substitute, that’s setting up for failure to enjoy.


I'd rather eat anything other than tempeh - it turns my stomach.


I've got a chocolate covered roach with your name on it! Now lets reconsider the "anything" part shall we.


My kids call it "cat food granola bars."


I think where seitan excels is where the meat it is substituting is heavily seasoned and in smaller pieces.

I’d never eat a seitan log as a Thanksgiving turkey substitute, but ironically one of the things you discover when you begin to substitute meat is that a lot of “classics” are flavorless. Chicken, turkey and most fish flesh can be bland and rubbery, which is why they are fried or smothered in sauces as a rule.

Speaking of texture though I think Chipotle made a mistake by using tofu in their meat-substitute filling - it’s just too smooshy for most people. Seitan would have been more successful and I bet they were just afraid of using that word on the menu.


>Chicken, turkey and most fish flesh are bland and rubbery, which is why they are fried or smothered in sauces as a rule.

Come visit. I'll bake you a chicken, and i only need about 6 ingredients to change your mind. (salt, pepper, chicken, butter, thyme, dijon mustard optional).

Turkey has never been a favorite of mine, but I had an exceptionally good one that was salted and peppered and then cooked in a big green egg.

Fish has a wide range of flavors, and you clobber them by overwhelming the dish with sauce. I prefer smoked (mmm, kippers. mmm, salmon) or raw (mmm, tuna) over cooked, for sure.


> "Come visit. I'll bake you a chicken, and i only need about 6 ingredients to change your mind. (salt, pepper, chicken, butter, thyme, dijon mustard optional)."

That's my favorite way to make a good quality chicken shine by itself, with nothing masking it or covering it up. Cold butter and dijon mustard just works so well with chicken.

I am extremely hesitant to replace actual meat for anything where you only process it very lightly, roast and the like. But for curries or lasagna and similar dishes, bring on the seitan and anything else. I'm a big fan of using mushrooms, both for their structure and for their flavors.


What tastes good is salt, pepper, butter, thyme, dijon mustard, not to mention garlic, root vegetables, and more salt. I eat chicken, I have enjoyed it - all I'm saying is I've learned that going without chicken is doable, not by abstaining but by substituting.

It's not apples-to-apples. Chicken tastes different than something that is not chicken. Having experienced both, I really prefer the not chicken.


Smoked salmon is awesome. I get that whenever I get sashimi. Might have to get some today now.


> most fish flesh can be bland and rubbery

yikes. i think you will have a better experience eating in a seafaring culture - the british, french, norwegians, coastal china, japan, even new england? i think something is quite wrong if you think cod, haddock, sole, tuna, and salmon all taste the same.


I didn't say all fish taste the same. But I maintain that once you have decided to stop eating meat, it becomes more fun to experiment with different textures of meat substitutes once you consider carefully how different meats are vs how we imagine meats to be.

FWIW I grew up in Japan and live in New England. I know from fish. Good fish is hard to substitute but it can be done, e.g. Sichuan food is great with the fake stuff. But most fish eaten in America is in fact bland and rubbery (most of it is eaten at places like Red Lobster).

PG's essay is about companies inventing the perfect tuna steak substitute. My point is you can use a lot of existing substitutes, in the right dishes.


> a lot of “classics” are flavorless. Chicken, turkey and most fish flesh are bland and rubbery

That's because most people enjoy tastes that are loud rather than subtle. It's a bit about educating your palate, but also about sitting down to enjoy the food itself rather than the food being an accessory to some other activity.


They are only rubbery if you overcook them.


Yes preparation matters and I’m not trying to say all meat is disgusting. Just relating the experience of discovering, upon regularly substituting meat in dishes, that there is nothing inherent to chicken turkey etc that makes it a preferred protein. Meat substitutes can be rubbery too.


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