When you think about tech startups in Silicon Valley you probably think of, well, tech type things like new apps. But the tech industry has it hands in all sorts of different places, and some of the moves in the more recent years have gone towards health and longevity, not just convenience. One place they’re doing this, is by moving into the food industry.
The reasoning behind this is that the way we’re producing and eating food just doesn’t have a lot of longevity, especially when you take into account health considerations. We have plenty of food, but a lot of easiest and cheapest food to get is hardly even considered real food at all. The environmental impact of all the meat products that we eat is already causing problems and could get worse. New startups have seen a space in the market for finding cheaper ways to offer food that is actually healthy, and that will have a lower impact on the environment.
Patrick Brown is the founder of one of these startups which is called Impossible Foods, and they are aiming to create meat and cheese alternatives with plant based ingredients. They have already raised 75 million to do so. Brown says:
“Animal farming is absurdly destructive and completely unsustainable. Yet the demand for meat and dairy products is going up.”
Ali Partovi, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur, sees the options this way.
“Anytime you can find a way to use plant protein instead of animal protein there’s an enormous efficiency in terms of the energy, water and all sorts of other inputs involved—which translates at the end of the day to saving money.”
The challenging part of this process, is reaching the meat eaters. The vegans and vegetarians of the world are already purchasing many of these products in stores, but people who eat meat are not currently looking for alternatives to meat. For that reason, the startups are in a unique position to try and offer a new type of food product that people aren’t even sure that they need or might want yet. Their challenge is to create meat and cheese-like products that would actually be as or more appealing than their real animal product alternatives.
However if anyone can successfully do it, it’s probably the tech startup industry which has access to every type of molecular biologist, biochemist, and physicist they might need to figure out how to do it right. Figuring out how to recreate both the texture and the flavor of the products is an interesting challenge that they’re taking on. Interestingly, many of the hamburger alternatives made from plant based ingredients are actually higher in protein and iron than the beef versions, so ultimately these options could be more environmentally friendly as well as healthier.
Another challenge here, is that most vegetarians and vegans go back to eating meat at some point in their lives, but that our meat consumption might not be sustainable over the long run. There’s a lot at stake to see what solution these companies will be able to come up with.