It is no surprise that the advantages of having a plant-based lifestyle are getting more well-known across the world. From celebrities such as Beyonce to politicians like Bill Clinton and sports stars Venus Williams, there is a rapidly growing group of famous people who are realising and propounding the value of a plant-based lifestyle, both for one’s health as well as sustainability of environment. Among these celebrities, the most prominent proponent of a plant-based living has been Microsoft co-founder, tech mogul, philanthropist and author Bill Gates.
In his recent book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates has discussed how our lifestyle affects the planet and mentions several ways in which we can prevent climate change. He suggests several methods including a plant-based lifestyle, avoiding animal products and promoting the production of clean meat.
In his book, Gates stresses on the fact that the first step to tackle climate change is for everyone to be on board and change their behaviour toward the planet. For this, we must make changes to our lifestyle. We need to give up our old ways and make place for greener and cleaner alternatives.
Research has shown that animal farming and meat production heavily contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn cause global warming and climate change. Livestock itself is responsible for approximately 14.5% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, around 80% of the deforested land is used for growing fodder for livestock. Avoiding the need to breed and slaughter animals, a clean, cultured or plant-based meat can help prevent the devastating impact of animal farming and meat production on our environment.
Experts have shown that clean meat can decrease greenhouse gas emissions by up to 78%–96% with 99% less land use, 7%–45% less energy use, and 82%–96% less water use compared to conventional meat production. This can help provide a sustainable alternative and help reverse the effects of climate change and global warming, while also preventing animal cruelty and the horrors associated with factory farming.
Clean meat involves cell culture technology that allows meat to be created or cultured from a few animal cells in the lab. This can help create lab-grown, ethical and animal-cruelty-free meat. Clean meat eliminates the need for animal farming and allows the production of meat without contaminants like pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and animal-borne pathogens. Using clean meat technology can also help the world prevent wastage of land, water, energy, food and resources. This can help people lead sustainable lives and reduce their carbon footprint.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in companies that are conducting research and producing lab-grown meat. Bill has suggested that although poor countries in Asia and Africa may not be able to reap the benefits of clean meat, middle-income and rich countries should switch to 100% artificial meat.
Eventually, improvement in technology, along with subsidies, world organisations will be able to make these products accessible to poorer countries as well. It is safe to say that once people get used to the taste of clean meat, this change can help save our planet and even prevent future pandemics caused by zoonotic pathogens.
Clean meat aside, switching to an entirely plant-based diet can have an even bigger impact on the environment. While producing clean meat certainly eliminates the need for animal meat, a plant-based diet will tackle the problem at a psychological level by changing our perception towards the need to consume meat in the first place.
As the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works toward a world with net-zero emissions, it is our duty to protect our planet. Gates’ book on the climate crisis is a must read to understand the need of the hour and why we should opt for clean meat to save the environment.