Recent innovations in precision fermentation allow scientists to replicate, for example, “the exact fatty acid” that makes meat taste like meat, said Liz Specht, who oversees a research team focusing on the future of alternative proteins at the Good Food Institute. Experts say these developments will help close the gap between plant-based products and their animal analogs, making them nearly indistinguishable in taste and texture.
“It’s a tool in the toolkit to get these botanicals over the next hurdles, from a sensory perspective and from a cost-effective perspective,” she added. “This is very, very different from what happened in the protein space, let’s say five years ago.”
These products, in addition to lab-grown meats, may appeal to flexitarians or occasional consumers of plant-based products that have hitherto been sold unflavored, allowing more meat alternatives to be consumed.
And that little bit can make all the difference, scientists say.
A recent study in nature found that replacing just 20 percent of the global consumption of beef and other grazing livestock with “microbial proteins”, or those made from fermentation, could halve annual deforestation by 2050. debate.)
“Replacing the milk, meat and, one day, even the eggs we eat would put enormous pressure on the planet,” Mr Monbiot said. “It could also develop a whole new kitchen that we can’t even imagine right now. Just like the first farmers who caught a wild cow didn’t think of Camembert.”
There is great enthusiasm for this innovation. (“Precision fermentation is the most important environmental technology mankind has ever developed,” said Mr. Monbiot. “We would be idiots to turn our backs on it.”)