EDITORS NOTE

Meat of the matter

I'm no big meat eater, but I definitely enjoy a juicy burger or steak every now and again, and biltong is my go-to snack when I’m out hiking or rock climbing. But the fact that the rearing of cattle (yes, the source of most of our meat) is one of the most harmful industries when it comes to the issues of environmental degradation and global warming is something that plays heavy on my mind.

According to findings from a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emi...
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Meat of the matter

I'm no big meat eater, but I definitely enjoy a juicy burger or steak every now and again, and biltong is my go-to snack when I’m out hiking or rock climbing. But the fact that the rearing of cattle (yes, the source of most of our meat) is one of the most harmful industries when it comes to the issues of environmental degradation and global warming is something that plays heavy on my mind.

According to findings from a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (in other words, those created by human activities) from livestock now account for about 14.5 per cent of the total figure. In simple terms, it has an immense impact. Incredibly, 17.7 kg of CO emissions is produced for every 50 grams of protein derived from beef. That’s simply not sustainable.

What could be sustainable, though, is cultured meat. Sure, it’s not the most sumptuous-sounding meal (‘Honey, I’m making you a romantic cultured-meat dinner tonight!’), but the time for new solutions and serious change is now. And that’s just what laboratories around the world have been concentrating on.

As with many new inventions, initial prototypes of lab-grown beef burger patties have been prohibitively expensive – we’re talking about R4 million for the first one created at Maastricht University in 2013. But much progress has taken place in the past few years, and there are now competitively priced cultured-meat products in shops around the world that rival conventionally reared beef for taste and nutrient value. But let me not scoop all the details – turn to page 40 for the full story. The good news is that if you’re open to trying (and tasting) new things, there are environmentally friendly meat solutions on the horizon.

We’d love to hear your suggestions about other ways we can be kinder to the environment in our daily lives. Write to us at popularmechanics@ramsaymedia.co.za – hopefully we’ll receive enough feedback to publish a full page or two of your ideas in an upcoming issue. show less