GQ (Australia) - - WHAT IF -

the pop­u­la­tion of the world is set to grow by 35 per cent – or more than a bil­lion peo­ple. But to feed them, we’ll need to dou­ble the world’s pro­duc­tion of crops. That’s be­cause only 55 per cent of crops are fed to peo­ple di­rectly; the rest are used to pro­duce live­stock (36 per cent) or to cre­ate bio­fu­els. And as the world’s pop­u­la­tion grows, a greater num­ber will be able to af­ford a meat-based diet. In ad­di­tion, an­i­mal agri­cul­ture con­trib­utes more to cli­mate change than any other form of trans­port com­bined. That’s in ad­di­tion to the flow-on ef­fects on bio­di­ver­sity, de­for­esta­tion and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in wa­ter qual­ity. We’re eat­ing our­selves to death. One so­lu­tion is to phase out meat­based pro­tein for plant-based va­ri­eties. Mel­bourne com­pany Aussie­lent of­fers pow­dered and ready-to-drink al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional meals. “There’s mas­sive in­ter­est,” says founder Paul Car­pen­ter. “The mod­ern world is re­ally busy and this is a so­lu­tion that gives you a healthy meal, but saves time and money.” Un­like sim­i­lar prod­ucts, Car­pen­ter says Aussie­lent is not in­tended as a com­plete food sub­sti­tute. Cur­rent Aus­tralian reg­u­la­tions mean to­tal meal re­place­ments must be pre­scribed and con­sumed un­der med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion. In­stead, Car­pen­ter sees his prod­uct as an ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional food and to cut down on waste – since Aus­tralians throw out 20 per cent of food they buy. “We get anec­do­tal ev­i­dence of cus­tomers get­ting up to 80-90 per cent [of their meals from Aussie­lent], and they’ve been happy. But most peo­ple re­place one or two meals a day,” he says. “There will al­ways be a place for go­ing to nice restau­rants. But this pro­vides a meal on the go for to­day’s busy life­style.” The idea of meal re­place­ments has been a sta­ple of sci­ence fic­tion for decades. But while the Jet­sons ate a sin­gle ‘meal pill’, the re­al­ity is less com­pact – one Aussie­lent ‘meal’ equals 130g of pow­der, plus two-three glasses of wa­ter. But maybe that’s not so bad. Food is fun, too. We need only look at the num­ber of cook­books and TV shows– or the fact that al­most two-thirds of Aus­tralians are over­weight – to know that. It’s part of the rea­son Car­pen­ter is ex­plor­ing other meal re­place­ments that re­tain the sat­is­fac­tion of eat­ing – things such as ‘noo­dles’ or ‘burg­ers’. Us-based Im­pos­si­ble Foods has al­ready gen­er­ated in­ter­est in its plant-based burg­ers, rais­ing $195m in fund­ing from the likes of Bill Gates. The com­pany is cur­rently build­ing a Cal­i­for­nia fac­tory, which plans to make four mil­lion burg­ers a month when it opens later this year. “There’s a big role in coun­tries where peo­ple are not get­ting as much nu­tri­tion as pos­si­ble,” adds Car­pen­ter. “As peo­ple be­come aware of the nu­tri­tious prop­er­ties of th­ese meal re­place­ments, I see a big fu­ture.” The bad news is that we can’t keep eat­ing the way we do. But maybe the fu­ture lies in cleaner, more ef­fi­cient and ac­ces­si­ble al­ter­na­tives. And that could be a good thing.

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