I think you’re really understating the difficulty of engineering top-down vegan meat and overstating the difficulty of high-quality lab-grown meat. Lab-grown meat isn’t quite there, especially from a mass production standpoint, but it’s still way closer than genetically modifying animals to be ethical. Top-down veganism also doesn’t solve one of the primary reasons for veganism, which is environmental concerns.
As a typical Westerner, i have the opportunity to eat only about 90,000 meals in a lifetime, there is no way I’m wasting any of them on sub-delicious food.
So you eat every meal at a Michelin-star restaurant, or cook equivalently delicious food? If so, I suppose you have a point here for yourself, but it applies to essentially no one. Most Westerners frequently eat at fast-food chains or cook from low quality meat from their grocery store. In my experience at least, the Impossible and Beyond burgers I have had are higher quality than any fast food burger and much of the ground beef I’ve had from a supermarket.
I think there’s space between “eat only meals of Michelin-star quality” and “frequently eat at fast-food chains or cook from low-quality meat”. In particular, I believe myself to live in that space; I cook my own meals, am competent but not at Michelin-star level, and never eat at fast-food joints.
I don’t know how common this is, but I doubt I’m the only one.
Also, I claim the following is a coherent position and suspect that quite a few hold it: “It may well be true that in some sense the best vegan pseudomeat is of higher quality than most fast food burgers. However, it happens that I like fast food burgers, or at least some of them, and vegan pseudomeat burgers are less appealing to me whatever ‘quality’ they are credibly alleged to have in the abstract.”
(Having said all of which, I am pretty sure all of us have sub-delicious meals fairly frequently, sometimes even by choice, and I’ve had delicious vegan food as well as delicious carnivore food, and I think “animal suffering is a big enough deal to outweigh my preference for delicious food” is a perfectly reasonable position that doesn’t merit mockery.)
(Disclaimer: am a carnivore)
I’ll agree that lab-grown meat seems more attainable than genetically engineering vegan animals, but I think you’re overstating the quality of Beyond Meat.
The only Beyond Meat product I’ve had is a ‘Beyond sausage’, which was really impressively unlike meat. I’d imagine that sausage would be the easiest thing to replicate, but the Beyond Meat one tasted like...uh...I can’t find good words to describe what it tasted like, but it tasted neither like sausage nor good. Even the ‘sausage’ in McMuffins or in Dunkin’ Donuts’ breakfast bagels is in my opinion substantially better, and the ‘low quality meat from a grocery store’ is substantially beyond that.
I haven’t actually tried Impossible Burger, but if it’s anything like the sausage I’d say it’ll be substantially worse than fast food burgers.
I’m guessing you had the Beyond sausage from a Dunkin’ Donuts? If so, I think we must just have different taste buds, because I definitely prefer the Beyond sausage breakfast sandwiches that Dunkin’ had to the real sausage breakfast sandwiches.
That said, the “Beyond Meat” is definitely not as accurate as the “Impossible Meat” (they’re two different companies with somewhat different approaches), and the sausages are not as good as the burgers, since burgers are the main product they work on. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the Beyond sausage you had wasn’t as good as the comparison I really had, which was the Impossible burgers.
Notably, they’re both way closer to real meat than anything on the market ten years ago, so I’m eager to see where they’ll be in another ten years. Perhaps they’re at a plateau and there won’t be much improvement, but I don’t see any reason for that to be the case.
I think the next big step will be legal rather than technical. Imo the Impossible Burger is already good enough that if it sneaked its way into existing standard fast-food products like Big Macs, most people would neither notice nor care. So in the end it will be a similar issue to GMO foods; its wide-spread adoption depending on whether businesses have to explicitly label plant-based alternatives as alternatives. Defaults really matter.
in the end it will be a similar issue to GMO foods; its wide-spread adoption depending on whether businesses have to explicitly label plant-based alternatives as alternatives
Unless it becomes better. It might be far off, but if we can consistently create tastier meat, then people will seek it out (if it becomes known for quality, and the price is reasonable).
removed footnotes that would have been better as comments (on the original post)
added quote for context
Are you sure you’re replying to the right comment?
Edited to fix that.