Gates Gets It!

Bill GatesAdd Microsoft founder and noted philanthropist, Bill Gates, to the list of leaders who understand that we can’t feed a growing and hungry population, in an environmentally sustainable way, on a meat-centered diet, especially when diet-related diseases now top the list worldwide.

According to Bill Gates, “meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years. By 2030, the world will need millions of tons more meat than it does today. But raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact.” Gates cites the UN figures on the expected growth of meat (see chart).

Chart of Growth in Production to 2030 - side by side, new labels

So what’s his solution? Companies that produce vegan meats. Products that are delicious but that don’t use any animal products. Gates writes, “Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources. Over the past few years, I’ve come across a few companies that are doing pioneering work on innovations that give a glimpse into possible solutions. To be sure, it’s still very early, but the work these companies are doing makes me optimistic. I wanted to share with you a look at their work on creating alternatives to meat and eggs that are just as healthful, are produced more sustainably, and taste great.”

Gates says “fake meats get real” and writes about two companies in particular, “Food scientists are creating healthful plant-based alternatives that taste just like eggs, chicken, and other sources of protein. Companies like Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods are experimenting with new ways to use heat and pressure to turn plants into foods that look and taste just like meat and eggs. I tasted Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative and was impressed. I couldn’t tell the difference between Beyond Meat and real chicken. Beyond Eggs, Hampton Creek Foods’ egg substitute, doesn’t contain the high cholesterol of real eggs.” Entrepreneurs take note that Gates considers fake meats a “big market opportunity.”

Gates’ foundation has also completed a major global study documenting various diseases. “Researchers released the results of a five-year project—funded by our foundation—to assess the prevalence of diseases, injuries and risk factors in 187 countries over a 20 year period—from 1990 to 2010. Known as the Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD), it is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and incorporates the work of hundreds of public health experts.” This study showed that along with the increase in global meat consumption comes an increase in diet-related diseases. For instance heart disease now tops the list of the most common diseases world-wide while stroke has moved to the number 3 position. Diabetes has also moved way up on the list.

The message seems clear. Plant foods constitute the most sustainable and healthy future of food. To take part in this cutting edge trend, you need no special technology or billions of dollars. Healthy eating is as close as your kitchen and natural food store and Vegetarians of Washington is here to help!