Bill Gates Sees Plant-Based Meat as the Future and Backs Firms Focused on It

In a recent episode of his podcast "Unconfuse Me," billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates shed light on what he terms the "hidden influence" of meat on our environment.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Bill Gates Sees Plant-Based Meat as the Future and Backs Firms Focused on It
© Getty Images News/Kevin Dietsch

In a recent episode of his podcast "Unconfuse Me," billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates shed light on what he terms the "hidden influence" of meat on our environment. Gates underscored his belief in the potential of plant-based meat as the future of sustainable food.

"Of all the climate areas, the one that people are probably least aware of is all the fertilizer and cows, and that's a challenge," Gates remarked during his conversation with musician and director Ahmir Thompson, popularly known as Questlove.

The Climate Cost of Traditional Agriculture

Agriculture is responsible for a staggering 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The United States Environmental Protection Agency's data reveals that a significant portion of this is due to methane emissions from livestock and fertilizer usage.

The beef industry, in particular, stands out for its considerable carbon footprint. In global terms, producing just 99 grams of beef releases around 50 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Back in 2018, Gates made a compelling comparison, noting, “If all the cattle in the world joined together to start their own country, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases”.

This sentiment was further explored in his 2021 book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster," where Gates emphasized that combating climate change effectively requires openness to innovative solutions, like embracing electric vehicles and synthetic meat.

Plant-Based Meat: An Appetizing Solution?

While plant-based meat still represents a small fraction of the overall meat market, its potential cannot be understated. However, Gates acknowledges the challenge ahead: convincing meat lovers to switch.

One of the primary hurdles is the current cost disparity; plant-based meat products tend to be pricier than their traditional counterparts. To tackle this, Gates is ardently supporting startups that are innovating in the realm of plant-based and lab-grown meats.

Among these startups are industry leaders like Impossible and Notco. Questlove, an investor in some of these food ventures, shared with Gates his fondness for Impossible's plant-based steak, mentioning that even former American President Barack Obama is a fan.

Questlove emphasized the product's uncanny similarity in taste to actual meat.

Embracing the Future

Bill Gates envisions a world where affluent nations harness their resources to transition predominantly to synthetic beef, predicting that its taste will continue to improve over time.

With the stakes being our planet's future, the push towards sustainable alternatives like plant-based meats is more crucial than ever.

Bill Gates
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