How to go vegan without really going vegan: precision fermentation, cellular agriculture and the disruption of food — Rethink Disruption

Animal Products Without the Animal

Rapid advances in precision biology (modern information technologies plus modern biotechnologies) have allowed us to make huge strides in precision fermentation (PF), a process that allows us to program micro-organisms to produce almost any complex organic molecule (especially proteins), and cellular agriculture (CA), a process that involves growing animal tissue cells outside the animal.

Vegan by Default

These clean new technologies will therefore rapidly outcompete and disrupt the older, dirtier animal-based industries through market forces alone. This means we are not dependent upon draconian restrictions on either the supply or the demand side of the economy, which in turn means we do not need to guilt or force people into changing their diets and can avoid the social harms of austerity policies that reduce standards of living and impede human development (the burden of which falls disproportionately on those communities and nations that are already disadvantaged).

Becoming a reality

This is not science fiction. We already eat many foods with ingredients produced by PF, yet very few of us are aware of it. These include citric acid, valencene (orange taste and smell), raspberry aroma, sweeteners like thaumatin, and vitamins, as well as a number of enzymes used in food processing like rennet, amylase, or lipase.

  • Geltor’s cosmetics containing animal-free proteins (collagen & elastin) for premium performance: Collume, HumaColl and Elastapure .They also make animal free PrimaColl poultry collagen for use in food and beverage.
  • EVERY company’s animal-free pepsin which is usually derived from pigs. This is used in nutritional supplements, food processing and lab reagents. They also make an egg white replacer and a soluble egg white protein for use as an ingredient in food and drinks.
  • Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein used in Brave Robot, Nick’s and Graeter’s ice cream, Modern Kitchen cream cheese, and Natreve and California Performance Co. protein powder which is coming soon.
  • Impossible Foods’ iron-rich heme protein that they use to make plant-based ground beef, taste more like animal-derived meat.
  • Motif BioWorksbovine myoglobin, a blood protein biologically identical to myoglobin from cows, to be sold B2B and used in plant-based meats.
  • Eat Just’s cell-based chicken, the only cell-based meat available on the market thanks to Singapore’s regulatory environment.
  • Sweegen’s brazzein protein, called Ultratia, is a protein sweetener that will be used to replace sugar (which often uses cattle derived bone char in its production) in packaged products
  • Evolva’s plant ingredients resveratrol, valencene, vanillin, nootkatone, stevia, and L-Arabinose. They focus on producing ingredients with a problematic supply chain, whether that is due to economic, environmental concerns or human rights concerns. They may have components from plants like saffron, agarwood, or ginseng in the pipeline.

The Death Spiral

The variety of products being developed right now is striking, and as more and more types of products are produced, demand for conventional animal products will at first be chipped away by modern alternatives. In the cattle farming industry, for instance, the products milk, hides (for leather), collagen, gelatin, and ground and tissue meat will all be replaced by lower cost, higher quality modern substitutes.

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RethinkX, disruptive technology think tank

RethinkX, disruptive technology think tank

RethinkX is an independent think tank that analyzes and forecasts the speed and scale of technology-driven disruption and its implications across society.