Is it possible that one day, in some enlightened future, we’re going to look back on our animal-slaying days and shake our heads in amazement? Will future societies think of the humans of 2017 as barely-evolved cave people, who routinely slaughtered and plundered their fellow animals for their dinner table and more?
Look at some of the breakthroughs going on in the food industry right now, and there’s a certain inevitability about that vision of the future. Trust me: I’m speaking as a hardened steak-lover with plans to tuck into an ethically questionable tuna pizza at lunch time!
On the subject of speaking, one of our Pioneers Festival 2017 speakers is one of those forward-thinking people building the animal-independent world of tomorrow. Alex Lorestani, co-founder of Geltor, will be up on stage at Vienna’s Hofburg to talk about his company’s remarkable progress in developing sustainable proteins.
“Our process is completely insensitive to whether or not the animal is alive and roaming the earth, because there are zero animal inputs in our process. All we need is a sequence, and that’s it,” says Alex, whose company last year showed off ‘Mastodon Gelatin’ candy as a proof of how powerful DNA synthesis can be.
Geltor, which Lorestani and co-founder Nick Ouzounov set up as a response to their “sense of quiet outrage” about the lack of progress in such a critical area, has made significant breakthroughs on producing artificial collagens (the building blocks of gelatin) at scale.
“Making a little bit of very expensive protein isn’t that hard,” says Alex. “What’s hard is making tonnes of the stuff at a competitive price point.”
Now, thanks to more cost-effective DNA sequence printing technology and the “millions of litres of fermentation capacity” that’s a legacy of the biofuels industry, Lorestani believes that competitive price point is now here. And it could be within sight for a range of other animal-free substitute foods too.
If technology can take us to a place where we can have a steak or tuna experience that doesn’t evolve an animal, shouldn’t we be all for it? Not just because of the nagging feeling that slaughtering our fellow creatures doesn’t sit well with our level of technical prowess. Not just because it’s time we stopped pillaging endangered species once and for all. And not just because fewer cows mean fewer emissions and more forests.
All those reasons are excellent ones, but more than anything, the advantages of a sustainable food supply are gigantic. That’s why innovators like Lorestani get invited to Pioneers Festival. And you’ll meet plenty more of them in Vienna!