Soon, most of us will stop eating beef, and it won’t be because we’ll all agree with vegans that meat is murder. It’ll be due to the logic of advanced capitalism. The alternatives to meat now being developed – plant-based substitutes and vat-grown meat produced from cultured animal cells – will taste the same as beef but, unlike cow meat, they’ll be subject to the “transformative power of the modern production line”.
It’s not just a matter of the sheer volume of goods produced; it’s the speed of manufacture from raw material to finished article, and the ability to vary supply with fluctuating demand, to dispense with low-value by-products like offal and excrement, and to develop variations in flavour. “Factory farming”, despite its name, has no such advantages. As for those who think a global industry that rears billions of animals can’t vanish overnight, I give you one word: “horses”. In the early 20th century, our cities and country lanes teemed with them. Then along came the internal combustion engine, and they were gone. As the horse went, so shall the cow. (Peter Franklin, The Week, 7 September 2019)
I must declare my position on this – I haven’t eaten beef for…..I’ve forgotten. This was because it didn’t agree with me, not for environmental reasons. But now, as the public view on the global climate is changing, and, as everyone must know by now, cattle rearing puts mega-tonnes of methane into the atmosphere worldwide. It is also rather a poor use of land. It would be better, and more Epicurean, to plant (or restore) forests and slowly phase out beef production. So, if plant-based substitutes, are edible and nutritious, and can be marketed cleverly, what objection can there be? Just a simple request – you try them first and report back!