Learning by Proxy | Dead Meat

In 10 years, when somebody says meat, it may not mean the same thing as what we think of meat today.

There has been a movement that has been slowly finding its foot against this dehumanisation of animals and mistreatment; all in the pursuit of capitalism. Apart from the ill-treatment, another big problem is emissions. Growing livestock implies creating more greenhouse emissions. Just like humans exhale carbon dioxide, they do too. Cows even burp methane. Also, the feed that is grown for rearing the livestock is another source of emission.

The book of genesis followed by all Abrahamic religions starts by saying that "Man was created in the image of God"; thereby absolving them of the first sin. Animals are a lower creation. But the second is probably going to kill us all, so absolution alone will not help.

Eating meat without killing

What if you were to reproduce on a schedule without fail. In the event that you do not manage to reproduce, you would be sent to the gallows. Sounds like The Handmaid's Tale right?

Man discovered farming. Farming met capitalism. These two sentences pretty much described the life of most land-based animals that we eat. Fishes - we just drive them to extinction. Most animals are forced to reproduce so that we can have our abundant supplies of egg, milk and meat which is available without fail at the supermarket shelf.

Some have been asking the question - is there another way. The answers that have been found are finding their way into the market.

The solution is meat that is grown or created rather than culled. The alternatives come in two flavours.

Plant-based in which case, one is looking to find a substitute that is made out of plants including peanut butter, almond milk, oat milk and the likes or make meat-like products using plants.

At its simplest level, animal meat is made up of protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Though plants don’t have muscles, they do contain protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Plant-based meat takes advantage of this biochemical similarity between plants and animals.

For every protein, lipid, or functional compound in the dozen or two animal species we typically eat, we can look for an analog or replacement in the plant kingdom. If a replacement doesn’t exist in nature, we can try to make it through mechanical, chemical, or biological treatment of a plant ingredient.

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The general method used to produce plant-based meat involves three primary steps. First, we grow crops as a source of raw materials. Second, we process these crops to get rid of the parts of the plants we don’t want. At this stage, we end up with the proteins, fats, and fiber ingredients that will become our plant-based meat product. Finally, we put together the desired mixture of ingredients. This ingredient mixture then goes through a manufacturing process to create the muscle-like texture needed for meat.

Source: Good Food Institute

Lab-based in which cells a being grown in a petri dish in a lab which is essentially growing the meat artificially.

Cultured meat is produced using many of the same tissue engineering techniques traditionally used in regenerative medicine. The concept of cultured meat was popularized by Jason Matheny in the early 2000s after co-authoring a seminal paper on cultured meat production and creating New Harvest, the world's first nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting in vitro meat research.

In 2013, Mark Post, a professor at Maastricht University, was the first to showcase a proof-of-concept for cultured meat by creating the first burger patty grown directly from cells. Since then, several cultured meat prototypes have gained media attention: SuperMeat opened a laboratory restaurant called "The Chicken" in Tel Aviv to test consumer reaction to its "Chicken Burger". The "world's first commercial sale of cell-cultured meat" occurred in December 2020 at the Singapore restaurant "1880", where cultured meat manufactured by the US firm Eat Just was sold.

Source: Wikipedia

The meat producers and their lobbies in the US have been fighting this hard for the last few years. Even before these products could start showing up on store shelves. They wanted the label to indicate that the product in question was not "real" meat.

Last year I had written in one of my editions when Singapore approved Cultured Meat.

Dozens of firms are developing cultivated chicken, beef and pork, with a view to slashing the impact of industrial livestock production on the climate and nature crises, as well as providing cleaner, drug-free and cruelty-free meat. Currently, about 130 million chickens are slaughtered every day for meat, and 4 million pigs. By weight, 60% of the mammals on earth are livestock, 36% are humans and only 4% are wild.

Source: Guardian

When you consider the fact that COVID would not even be haunting the world economy right now had it not been for hunting and eating wildlife, you begin to wonder is this not a better way!

And...

America’s biggest fast-food companies reported earnings this week, and executives from KFC to Wingstop stressed a dire situation — there’s simply not enough chicken to go around.

A meat-processing slowdown caused by pandemic safety measures along with a surge in demand for recently rolled out fried chicken sandwiches are largely behind the shortage, executives said this week.

Source: New York Times

Plant-based meat as well as cultured meat by comparison can be safely harvested and produced in automated factories without hurting animals.

They say - Change happens gradually and then suddenly. The change has been gradual, so gradual that nobody has noticed that these markets have grown into multi-billion-dollar businesses.

Each year the Plant Based Foods Association and the Good Food Institute — the two main groups that advocate for meat and dairy alternatives — publish a state of the industry of sorts, analyzing how these products actually perform in grocery stores. It’s a useful zoom-out that helps put the blitz of plant-based food development into perspective.

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Fifteen percent of fluid milk sales in retail are now plant-based, plant-based butter is at 7 percent, and plant-based coffee creamer 6 percent. Some subcategories of plant-based meat are getting more and more consumer dollars, too — for example, 2.7 percent of packaged meat sales are now plant-based. To be clear, these figures are for sales, not volume. Since plant-based products tend to cost more than their animal-derived counterparts, the actual volume of plant-based milk and packaged meat that Americans are picking up at the grocery store is likely a good amount lower than 15 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Source: Vox

As mentioned above, it is not just meat, but also milk that these companies are going after. And milk is perhaps the largest segment to be shifting its base away from animal milk. Even in India, segments like Almond milk, oat milk, etc have players such as Soy-fit and Epigamia jumping. The space is virgin and has ample opportunity to grow.

“Oatly has crossed the line from hip to basic,” Bloomberg food reporter Deena Shanker recently declared on Twitter. That may be a diss, but it’s also a testament to the 27-year-old Swedish oat-milk company, which counts Oprah, Jay-Z, and Natalie Portman among its investors. When you’ve got an upcoming IPO with a rumored valuation of $10 billion, who needs cool anyway?

Source: Quartz

Oatly has hardly scratched the surface and it is already being valued at over USD 10 Billion. What's more - Oatly also sells Ice-Cream, Yogurt, and Whipped-Cream. They currently sell 4 plant-based milk - Almond, Oats, Coconut and Soy.

This space will be interesting to watch in the coming years. The global push for climate-friendly policy and initiatives is expected to open the doors for this industry and provide greater support. What seems like a very small opportunity today will suddenly sweep the globe.

Not just meat and dairy products, there is one more industry that can end up being upended by going towards lab-based solutions.

Paper

Like meat production, logging and agriculture can exact a heavy environmental toll. Now an MIT team has proposed a way to circumvent that by growing certain plant tissues in the lab—an idea somewhat akin to cultured meat.

The researchers, in Luis Fernando Velásquez-García’s group at the Micro­systems Technology Laboratories, grew wood-like plant tissue indoors, without soil or sunlight. They started with a zinnia, extracting live cells from its leaves and culturing them in a liquid growth medium so they would metabolize and proliferate.

Source: MIT Review

A huge amount of logging takes places to supply pulp to the paper industry. They turn those trees into paper. This has resulted in many forest disappearing. Also, more than paper for office and books, the demand for toilet paper takes a lot out of the environment. Also rarely is toilet paper recycled!

This might be the perfect solution to the problem of navigating demand away from forestry completely. Not to mention, nobody should seriously care where the paper they use to wipe their ass came from.

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RT-PCR

Stands for Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. This is the process that is currently being used to test for COVID. This image explains what exactly takes place. Few will be able to grasp even with the diagram.

To put it simply, the RNA of the virus is reverse transcribed. It is like having one half of the sentence and figuring out the other half. Only in this case, the other half matches with the DNA of the virus. If the two match perfectly then you know that COVID is positive.

In last weeks edition, I had mentioned the arrival of mutations and the possibility of several unknown mutations being at bay.

As India struggles to cope with the unprecedented demand for RT-PCR tests, reports suggest that up to 20% symptomatic Covid-19 patients are testing negative.

This apparent trend of false negative results may deny serious patients hospital admission and critical care while letting asymptomatic ones move around and spread the virus. The trend has prompted experts, including AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, to recommend Covid-19 treatment for everyone showing classic symptoms irrespective of RT-PCR results.

Source: Indian Express

So you could be experiencing symptoms but the hospital can refuse to take you in because your test turned out negative. With a healthcare system that is bursting at its seams, you cannot blame the hospitals either. But this represents a far bigger danger. People who have been tested negative can end up mingling with their own family members without realising, especially if they are asymptomatic.

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Technology Penetration

In many ways, things are so unfair. We tend to reserve the best of technology for the most developed. If you want to understand how an American would think about India; just think about how you would think about a villager in India. They are no less, in many cases, without them your lives would come to a standstill. But even so.

Some bad and then some good news.

The vaccine roll-out in India is being undertaken through the Cowin website. Little did anyone wonder what happens to those who do not have access to the internet. Strike One.

Say, they found a cybercafe or something. The website requires mandatory registration with OTP. This means you need to have a mobile phone. Some 600 million people in India do not have a mobile phone. Strike two.

The demand-supply gap for the vaccine even in the cities is so high especially with the vaccines being opened up for 18-44-year-olds that developers have taken to hacking the Cowin API and scheduling slots directly using the API. The vaccination drive has officially become a hackathon! Strike three.

For us city dwellers, pulling a website together can make it seem like the government is working hard. Whereas in fact, they are just making it harder and harder for those in need.

Now for some good.

The rural areas are just as equally devastated as the cities. Getting supplies across to those areas is incredibly difficult. At least one state government is pulling all the stops to get the medical supply across. Telangana got emergency approval for civilian drone usage.

The union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has granted permission to the Telangana government to use drones within the visual line of sight (VLOS) range for experimental delivery of Covid-19 vaccines across the state, for a period of one year.

The Telangana government had sought the exemption from Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rules of 2021, in March 2021, to incorporate drones into their logistics systems. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), through an email sent on April 26, accorded the approval of the standard operating procedure (SOP).

Source: Inc42

This is very good for rural access to medication especially in the case of emergent issues. Also, Telangana is one of those states that took to Blockchain very early. Hopefully, they execute this well.

A few years ago I had heard a pitch in Paris for a startup that was giving homes, addresses in Kenya. We all take an address for granted. But think of a slum, none of them has an address. Think about how difficult it must be to open a bank account. Little wonder vast swathes of this country are unbanked.

Until recently, Dashrath shared a common address with everyone around her—that of the slum itself. A large banyan tree served as a collection center for mail and other deliveries. With no addresses of their own, residents had a hard time opening bank and postal accounts or accessing electric and water bills. During the pandemic, medical teams struggled to track down infected residents.

Last September, a nonprofit organization called Shelter Associates began a pilot project with Google and UNICEF to provide unique digital addresses to houses in Laxmi Nagar. Now, Dashrath has a special code she can type into delivery apps and share with friends to direct them to her front door.

With no addresses of their own, residents had a hard time opening bank and postal accounts or accessing electric and water bills.

Source: MIT Technology Review

Here, technology is used to help raise those who are below. Unfortunately, it is not our own government but multi-lateral agencies doing it!

Also

This is the Foreign Minister of the Philippines. China has that effect on people

Shame is getting to even the solicitor general


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What we think, we become ~ Buddha


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