The end of cows?

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Woodchopper
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Re: The end of cows

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:35 am

bjn wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:28 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:45 pm
Probably a good thing overall. People probably won’t notice the difference in most processed foods.
They've applied the same analysis to the raising of livestock and think that by 2035 that the market for livestock of all forms will have massively collapsed, being replaced by range of low cost high tech man-made equivalents to beef and dairy.
I suspect that 2035 maybe a bit optimistic for a collapse in the livestock industries. That’s only 14 years away and replacement of the livestock industry with precision fermentation would take an enormous investment in production and distribution infrastructure.
One of thing they emphasise is that a disruption can happen very quickly, and it's generally been about a decade or so for most industries once e^x growth kicks in. Nothing much happens for ages as the tech stacks get sorted and early adopters buy in, then everything happens all at once when the exponential growth kicks in and people start throwing hundreds of billions at the new industry. Which is exactly what we are seeing now with BEVS and renewables. They reckon that precision fermentation is really going to start taking off in the early/mid 20s when costs start converging on costs of animal protein, with cell culture based meat no long after.

However, they acknowledge there is uncertainty in the speed of scaling up....
The paper wrote:The speed of scale-up is one of the biggest unknowns as most of the companies in this sector are startups. The scale-up speed will depend on capital investment, and the ability to repurpose and capture current infrastructure and talent (such as from bioethanol or beer producers). As with most technologies, the cost of marginal production depends largely on the cumulative experience the industry has with producing the relevant technology. This relationship is expressed as the ‘experience curve’. Essentially, every doubling in the cumulative number of units of a given technology reduces the cost of producing one additional unit by a given percentage.

The scale-up of technologies will, therefore, help drive costs lower. Currently, large-scale PF means production on the scale of grams to a few kilograms. This disruption will ultimately require millions of tons of production. Some of the biggest fermentation tanks used today are bigger than 100,000 liters, but those used for PF are in the region of 5,000 liters (the largest are for enzymes). This production is optimized for the current biological standards. However, we expect further improvements in these processes as the technologies improve. For example, Stämm have developed a high throughput continuous process that has improved productivity by 74 times.
I'm not sure we are seeing disruption happening that quickly.

If we take BEV's, the technology has been developed for over a century. The Tesla Roadster started being produced in 2008. For BEVs, the 2020 EU market share for new registrations has grown to 5.3% of passenger cars and 2% of light commercial vehicles. As far as I can tell the BEV market share is no better in the US.

Certainly, year on year growth has been impressive. But BEV's are still a small proportion of the market about 14 years after the launch of the first lithium ion using production car. This projection by Deliotte has European BEV market share at about 45% in 2030.

Similarly for renewables, their share of the EU 28 energy market has gone from 8.6% in 2004 to 18.9% in 2019. There has also been a fairly steady year on year increase. The EU's target is for renewables to account for 30% by 2030. So we are still looking at change occurring over decades.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Tessa K » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:41 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:35 am

If we take BEV's, the technology has been developed for over a century. The Tesla Roadster started being produced in 2008. For BEVs, the 2020 EU market share for new registrations has grown to 5.3% of passenger cars and 2% of light commercial vehicles. As far as I can tell the BEV market share is no better in the US.

Certainly, year on year growth has been impressive. But BEV's are still a small proportion of the market about 14 years after the launch of the first lithium ion using production car. This projection by Deliotte has European BEV market share at about 45% in 2030.
The spread of BEVs is bound to be fairly slow as people don't buy new cars very often - and most people buy second hand so it will take time for BEVs to permeate the whole market. It's items that people use all the time that will change the fastest so the uptake of synthetic meat could in theory be a lot faster if the demand is there

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Re: The end of cows

Post by discovolante » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:49 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:35 am
bjn wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:28 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:45 pm
Probably a good thing overall. People probably won’t notice the difference in most processed foods.



I suspect that 2035 maybe a bit optimistic for a collapse in the livestock industries. That’s only 14 years away and replacement of the livestock industry with precision fermentation would take an enormous investment in production and distribution infrastructure.
One of thing they emphasise is that a disruption can happen very quickly, and it's generally been about a decade or so for most industries once e^x growth kicks in. Nothing much happens for ages as the tech stacks get sorted and early adopters buy in, then everything happens all at once when the exponential growth kicks in and people start throwing hundreds of billions at the new industry. Which is exactly what we are seeing now with BEVS and renewables. They reckon that precision fermentation is really going to start taking off in the early/mid 20s when costs start converging on costs of animal protein, with cell culture based meat no long after.

However, they acknowledge there is uncertainty in the speed of scaling up....
The paper wrote:The speed of scale-up is one of the biggest unknowns as most of the companies in this sector are startups. The scale-up speed will depend on capital investment, and the ability to repurpose and capture current infrastructure and talent (such as from bioethanol or beer producers). As with most technologies, the cost of marginal production depends largely on the cumulative experience the industry has with producing the relevant technology. This relationship is expressed as the ‘experience curve’. Essentially, every doubling in the cumulative number of units of a given technology reduces the cost of producing one additional unit by a given percentage.

The scale-up of technologies will, therefore, help drive costs lower. Currently, large-scale PF means production on the scale of grams to a few kilograms. This disruption will ultimately require millions of tons of production. Some of the biggest fermentation tanks used today are bigger than 100,000 liters, but those used for PF are in the region of 5,000 liters (the largest are for enzymes). This production is optimized for the current biological standards. However, we expect further improvements in these processes as the technologies improve. For example, Stämm have developed a high throughput continuous process that has improved productivity by 74 times.
I'm not sure we are seeing disruption happening that quickly.

If we take BEV's, the technology has been developed for over a century. The Tesla Roadster started being produced in 2008. For BEVs, the 2020 EU market share for new registrations has grown to 5.3% of passenger cars and 2% of light commercial vehicles. As far as I can tell the BEV market share is no better in the US.

Certainly, year on year growth has been impressive. But BEV's are still a small proportion of the market about 14 years after the launch of the first lithium ion using production car. This projection by Deliotte has European BEV market share at about 45% in 2030.

Similarly for renewables, their share of the EU 28 energy market has gone from 8.6% in 2004 to 18.9% in 2019. There has also been a fairly steady year on year increase. The EU's target is for renewables to account for 30% by 2030. So we are still looking at change occurring over decades.
I don't really want to argue with the rest of your point (apart from what Tessa said, and that buying a fancy nee expensive car is still quite different to buying fancy synthetic meat, even if you're fairly affluent) but don't you think referring to BEV technology as being over a century old is a bit of a red herring?
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Re: The end of cows

Post by Grumble » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:58 am

discovolante wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:49 am

I don't really want to argue with the rest of your point (apart from what Tessa said, and that buying a fancy nee expensive car is still quite different to buying fancy synthetic meat, even if you're fairly affluent) but don't you think referring to BEV technology as being over a century old is a bit of a red herring?
Certainly the B in the BEV is a lot more recent than that. And was always the limiting factor
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Re: The end of cows

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:13 am

discovolante wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:49 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:35 am
bjn wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:28 pm


One of thing they emphasise is that a disruption can happen very quickly, and it's generally been about a decade or so for most industries once e^x growth kicks in. Nothing much happens for ages as the tech stacks get sorted and early adopters buy in, then everything happens all at once when the exponential growth kicks in and people start throwing hundreds of billions at the new industry. Which is exactly what we are seeing now with BEVS and renewables. They reckon that precision fermentation is really going to start taking off in the early/mid 20s when costs start converging on costs of animal protein, with cell culture based meat no long after.

However, they acknowledge there is uncertainty in the speed of scaling up....

I'm not sure we are seeing disruption happening that quickly.

If we take BEV's, the technology has been developed for over a century. The Tesla Roadster started being produced in 2008. For BEVs, the 2020 EU market share for new registrations has grown to 5.3% of passenger cars and 2% of light commercial vehicles. As far as I can tell the BEV market share is no better in the US.

Certainly, year on year growth has been impressive. But BEV's are still a small proportion of the market about 14 years after the launch of the first lithium ion using production car. This projection by Deliotte has European BEV market share at about 45% in 2030.

Similarly for renewables, their share of the EU 28 energy market has gone from 8.6% in 2004 to 18.9% in 2019. There has also been a fairly steady year on year increase. The EU's target is for renewables to account for 30% by 2030. So we are still looking at change occurring over decades.
I don't really want to argue with the rest of your point (apart from what Tessa said, and that buying a fancy nee expensive car is still quite different to buying fancy synthetic meat, even if you're fairly affluent) but don't you think referring to BEV technology as being over a century old is a bit of a red herring?
Fair enough, ignore that and start from the production of the Tesla Roadster.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Gfamily » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:23 am

I'm not sure what will happen to the right hand chart on this when meat replacement products pick up, but it's not going to go back to the left chart
weight-of-vertebrate-land-animals-and-human.jpg
weight-of-vertebrate-land-animals-and-human.jpg (31.24 KiB) Viewed 605 times
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Re: The end of cows

Post by shpalman » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:43 am

Well, given that the human population back then was maybe a few 10s of millions at most, no. You all seem weirdly opposed to my plan to kill all humans.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:01 am

Tessa K wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:41 am
The spread of BEVs is bound to be fairly slow as people don't buy new cars very often - and most people buy second hand so it will take time for BEVs to permeate the whole market. It's items that people use all the time that will change the fastest so the uptake of synthetic meat could in theory be a lot faster if the demand is there
The numbers I mentioned were the proportion of new vehicle sales, not the share of all vehicles on the road.

Of course the food market will be different. I only mentioned BEVs and renewables because bjn gave them as examples of market disruption happening quickly. Which I don't think has happened.

On food bjn also writes that:
bjn wrote:I'd argue that the transition away from meat in some parts of the West has already started, but using vegetable proteins instead of synthesized animal proteins. If we can get synthesized proteins in on the act, it will just accelerate.
It probably will accelerate, though a lot will depend upon whether synthesized animal proteins are cheaper. Even with plant based alternatives, progress has been slow. I've been buying plant based meat and dairy substitutes since the 90s. It appears that in 2020 in Europe plant based meat was worth 0.7% of the market and dairy 4.5% (projected to rise to 1.3% and 4.6% by 2025). In the US the proportion for meat is similar.

As mentioned, I'd be be happy to eat synthetically produced products and assuming they are better for the environment they should be the future.

My point is just that huge industries aren't replaced that quickly. Consumer preferences are conservative and existing industries benefit from economies of scale and political support. I think that the livestock industry collapsing within 15 years is rather optimistic.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:03 am

Gfamily wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:23 am
I'm not sure what will happen to the right hand chart on this when meat replacement products pick up, but it's not going to go back to the left chart

weight-of-vertebrate-land-animals-and-human.jpg
Not all the way, but some ecological recovery would be inevitable. Meat production is the leading driver of tropical deforestation for example, accounting for over half of it.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:25 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:03 am
Gfamily wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:23 am
I'm not sure what will happen to the right hand chart on this when meat replacement products pick up, but it's not going to go back to the left chart

weight-of-vertebrate-land-animals-and-human.jpg
Not all the way, but some ecological recovery would be inevitable. Meat production is the leading driver of tropical deforestation for example, accounting for over half of it.
Yes, and with reference to the other thread, especially if pasture gets replaced by woodland.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:36 am

I'm not sure what else would happen - there are few other uses for remote pasture land in, say, interior rural Brazil.

In most cases the forest will come back on its own. When large areas have been cleared for a longer time, the loss of topsoil and seed-dispersing fauna make that much trickier - some of the UK's heathlands probably resulted from Mesolithic slash-and-burn.

But it's an active area of research in tropical restoration ecology - for instance, planting a few tiny patches of shrubs, or providing roosting structures for fruit bats, is enough to attract seed-dispersers into the area but much cheaper than wholesale replanting. And spreading pretty much any old organic matter, from waste wood to fruit pulp, can help soil recovery surprisingly fast.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by bjn » Sat Apr 17, 2021 11:39 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:01 am
Tessa K wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:41 am
The spread of BEVs is bound to be fairly slow as people don't buy new cars very often - and most people buy second hand so it will take time for BEVs to permeate the whole market. It's items that people use all the time that will change the fastest so the uptake of synthetic meat could in theory be a lot faster if the demand is there
The numbers I mentioned were the proportion of new vehicle sales, not the share of all vehicles on the road.

Of course the food market will be different. I only mentioned BEVs and renewables because bjn gave them as examples of market disruption happening quickly. Which I don't think has happened.

On food bjn also writes that:
bjn wrote:I'd argue that the transition away from meat in some parts of the West has already started, but using vegetable proteins instead of synthesized animal proteins. If we can get synthesized proteins in on the act, it will just accelerate.
It probably will accelerate, though a lot will depend upon whether synthesized animal proteins are cheaper. Even with plant based alternatives, progress has been slow. I've been buying plant based meat and dairy substitutes since the 90s. It appears that in 2020 in Europe plant based meat was worth 0.7% of the market and dairy 4.5% (projected to rise to 1.3% and 4.6% by 2025). In the US the proportion for meat is similar.

As mentioned, I'd be be happy to eat synthetically produced products and assuming they are better for the environment they should be the future.

My point is just that huge industries aren't replaced that quickly. Consumer preferences are conservative and existing industries benefit from economies of scale and political support. I think that the livestock industry collapsing within 15 years is rather optimistic.
I'm recounting the paper I read, I'm not particularly invested in the ~decade to displace, it's Seba's position. However, I do stand by the position that BEVs and renewables are currently disrupting markets and are seeing exponential growth both in sales and investment and are technologies that have had their adoption continually underestimated. However Seba and colleagues seemed to have fairly accurately predicted the price and adoption curves for both to date, being on record stating that the 2020s will be the decade that they do the S curve adoption thing. People are bad at dealing with exponentials.

My google-fu is weak and I have children to shout at today, but there are currently just over 5GW of wind turbines under construction in the UK, 0 GW of coal and from my (bad) estimates at googling something like 2GW of gas generation. Add in solar and batteries I'd call that a very disrupted market, you are seeing that pattern replicated world wide.

It all ultimately depends on cost, ideally factoring in externalities like greenhouse gas emissions.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Pishwish » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:04 pm

Perhaps biofuels are a more appropriate example of how a promising new technology does not always unseat an existing industry.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:18 am

shpalman wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:43 am
Well, given that the human population back then was maybe a few 10s of millions at most, no. You all seem weirdly opposed to my plan to kill all humans.
I fully support your plan to kill all humans and would like to roll it out as soon as practicable.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:28 am

Grumble wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:55 am
Single origin, named farm, named breed of lamb chops could definitely be a thing. I mean it pretty much exists already, butchers here advertise Welsh salt marsh lamb sometimes.
I think the UK could do very well out of this kind of farming. There are so many niche breeds of cattle, sheep and pig that we've bred here which, since the dominance of supermarkets, have been absolutely obliterated. British food is, historically, about really good quality ingredients cooked simply. Unfortunately, supermarkets destroyed the first bit and people forgot their heritage (see, for instance, the bacon thread).

But a world in which real meat is an occasional treat, a high quality prize to be looked forward to, could be very good. If it means the survival and raised interest in British White or Gloucester cattle, for instance, then fantastic.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by Aitch » Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:44 am

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:18 am
shpalman wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:43 am
Well, given that the human population back then was maybe a few 10s of millions at most, no. You all seem weirdly opposed to my plan to kill all humans.
I fully support your plan to kill all humans and would like to roll it out as soon as practicable.
Start with the end of Cowes?

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Re: The end of cows

Post by bjn » Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:55 am

Pishwish wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:04 pm
Perhaps biofuels are a more appropriate example of how a promising new technology does not always unseat an existing industry.
Thanks for the link, interesting read, however I think it's a different kettle of fish. We already have commercially viable businesses using fermentation bioreactors to produce proteins for food, eg: Quorn. We already have genetically altered microbes producing pharma grade and food grade animal proteins, eg: insulin, rennet and heme (in Impossible Burgers). So unlike algae and biofuels, we have viable businesses using the technologies in question to supply the food market or adjacent markets. ie: it's happening already.

Those businesses are pretty secure. That's a situation that can set up a virtuous cycle that will reduce costs over time. The Quorn or Impossible Burger people will want to make Quorn/heme cheaper, so they tinker with the production process, which drops the price, which increases the market, same for they synthesised proteins. Impossible Burgers only synthesises the heme at the moment, which is a minor but important ingredient, but as the prices of fermented proteins drop, they can/will synthesis so muscle proteins to make it more burger-like. Technology convergence and all that. How far can they drop the price? No idea, which is why I posted here, the paper posits that the marginal cost of production will drop to the price of sugar needed to feed your microbes.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Gfamily » Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:04 pm

There is a meme going around that asks "if vegan/vegetarian food is so great, why does it have to be made up to look like meat?"
Which of course is untrue - because much vegan/vegetarian food is just that - roots and pulses and salads etc.

Where there are products made to look like 'meat' - it's not 'meat shaped meat', but heavily processed stuff like burgers or sausages - and those are the meat products that you wouldn't eat they hadn't been scraped off the bone and mashed up to hide where the meat comes from.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by nezumi » Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:09 pm

I love eating vegetarian, but you would have to pry cheese and yoghurt, eggs etc out of my cold dead hands. I'm not mad about meat, I only enjoy chicken and steak really - I just put up with the rest and frankly the smell of bacon turns my stomach. I only eat meat on account of my husband who was a vegetarian for 20 years and is now a meat addict. I think we could easily cut down the amount we eat but it would be difficult to replace the protein. We both like quorn, but impossible burgers are vile and tofu is nearly impossible to cook right.

I think that, as vegetarian options grow in variety and increase in ease of use, a lot of people will naturally look at these cheaper options, particularly if we as a nation start to really care about meat production standards. There has been such a lot of progress in these areas in the last 20 years that I think it's a trend that will continue. I want meat prices to rise so that the animals are better looked after so I can always be confident I'm buying good food. I am happy to pay more for meat, but I will, by necessity have to reduce the amount I eat. I'll probably moan, like everybody else, but also start looking for ways to not have to buy and eat meat.

The real dream is that, all that land not needed for meat production can be used for vegetables. Different ones, not just the obvious stuff, I want heritage foods back. I want different varieties of caulis and carrots and so on. To me food production is another facet of bringing biodiversity back to Britain. I have no knowledge of the industry or the conservation movement so I don't know how much this would affect the food supply.
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Re: The end of cows

Post by bjn » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:41 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:04 pm
There is a meme going around that asks "if vegan/vegetarian food is so great, why does it have to be made up to look like meat?"
Which of course is untrue - because much vegan/vegetarian food is just that - roots and pulses and salads etc.

Where there are products made to look like 'meat' - it's not 'meat shaped meat', but heavily processed stuff like burgers or sausages - and those are the meat products that you wouldn't eat they hadn't been scraped off the bone and mashed up to hide where the meat comes from.
You may also want to eat meat* shaped and flavoured things but not want to kill animals in the process.

*also fish, chicken and sea food.
Last edited by bjn on Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by bjn » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:47 pm

nezumi wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:09 pm
I love eating vegetarian, but you would have to pry cheese and yoghurt, eggs etc out of my cold dead hands.
If your dairy was synthesised by microbes to have the exact same mix of proteins, fats and sugars so that it was indistinguishable from the cow juice versions, would you care?

As an aside, I've got some ElmLea vegan double cream substitute in the fridge which I bought out of curiosity, as pouring cream I wouldn't be hard put to tell the difference, it whips weird though.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by Grumble » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:48 pm

bjn wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:47 pm
nezumi wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:09 pm
I love eating vegetarian, but you would have to pry cheese and yoghurt, eggs etc out of my cold dead hands.
If your dairy was synthesised by microbes to have the exact same mix of proteins, fats and sugars so that it was indistinguishable from the cow juice versions, would you care?

As an aside, I've got some ElmLea vegan double cream substitute in the fridge which I bought out of curiosity, as pouring cream I wouldn't be hard put to tell the difference, it whips weird though.
I assume that should have been “would”?
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Re: The end of cows

Post by bjn » Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:08 pm

Grumble wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:48 pm
bjn wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:47 pm
nezumi wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:09 pm
I love eating vegetarian, but you would have to pry cheese and yoghurt, eggs etc out of my cold dead hands.
If your dairy was synthesised by microbes to have the exact same mix of proteins, fats and sugars so that it was indistinguishable from the cow juice versions, would you care?

As an aside, I've got some ElmLea vegan double cream substitute in the fridge which I bought out of curiosity, as pouring cream I wouldn't be hard put to tell the difference, it whips weird though.
I assume that should have been “would”?
Indeed it should be.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by kerrya1 » Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:25 pm

bjn wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:08 pm
Grumble wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:48 pm
bjn wrote:
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:47 pm


If your dairy was synthesised by microbes to have the exact same mix of proteins, fats and sugars so that it was indistinguishable from the cow juice versions, would you care?

As an aside, I've got some ElmLea vegan double cream substitute in the fridge which I bought out of curiosity, as pouring cream I wouldn't be hard put to tell the difference, it whips weird though.
I assume that should have been “would”?
Indeed it should be.
Serendipitously I read this interesting article this morning The quest to make genuinely cheesy dairy-free cheese. Having tried vegan "cheese" a couple of times when I was dairy free during breast feeding I am confident that it is the most revolting thing I have ever eaten and I really hope these new approaches improve on both taste and texture.

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Re: The end of cows

Post by bjn » Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:01 pm

Thanks for that Kerry. Cool, so it’s another example of it happening. Things like milk and milk products, which are just unstructured mixtures, will be way easier to synthesise than meat.

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