Bulletin: Reinventing meat to stave off climate crisis—and the next pandemic

Are we eating our way into climate crisis?

The global food system is responsible for between 21 and 37 percent of annual emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Roughly half of the world’s land surface is used for agriculture, and 96 percent of the world’s mammalian biomass is either human or livestock, chiefly pigs and cattle. And the global appetite for meat is only predicted to grow.

Bruce Friedrich believes that there is a better way to make and eat meat. He founded the Good Food Institute to advance the future of alternative meats, including plant-based meat made from—duh—plants (like pea protein and coconut oil), and cultivated meats, which are grown from animal cells.

In this interview with Bulletin associate editor Jessica McKenzie, Friedrich elaborates on Good Food Institute’s theory of change, why it is working with—not against—meat companies, how alternative meats could help prevent the next pandemic, and how they can achieve taste, texture, and price parity with meat. He also responds to criticisms that alternative meats are nothing more than corporate greenwashing.

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Tenderly: My Quest for Vegan Soup Dumplings

I dreamed about meatless soup dumplings for years. I even fantasized about opening a food truck dedicated to the delicacy. I’d perfect a version of the classic xiaolongbao, of course, but I also imagined little sacs of salty miso soup, filled with scallion, tofu, and seaweed, and pockets of sweet, luxurious onion soup. Last winter I finally purchased a little bamboo steamer at a kitchen supply store in Chinatown. I brought it home and installed it in the cabinet next to the bowls, where it sat untouched for months, a monument to my dormant culinary ambitions.

This summer I decided to actually follow through: First, to finally recreate the gush of salty, fatty broth when you bite into a soup dumpling, and the exquisite burst of black vinegar and ginger on the palate; and second, to test my reckless and thoroughly unfounded theory that agar agar, like a magic incantation, will transform most any soup into a dumpling filling. Read more…