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March 28, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Steak-lover Bill Gates promotes faux-tastic ‘meat’

File photo by Ellen Banner/The Seattle Times

File photo by Ellen Banner/The Seattle Times

He’s long been a fan of the Metropolitan Grill steakhouse, but Bill Gates sees a future in fake meat.

On his personal website, he’s pointing out the unsustainable growth in world-wide meat consumption and writing that “Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.”

He follows that up by, if not asking everyone to become vegetarians, at least pointing us that way, praising a new generation of faux products like “Beyond Meat,” saying he couldn’t tell the difference between the soybeans-and-peas-based chicken replacement and the real thing. (Columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman had a similar reaction.) Gates also brings in a q&a with heavy-hitting author/journalist Michael Pollan — the guy who said “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t”) — to elucidate the reasons to consider replacing meat in a diet (health, environment, and ethics). It’s a slightly odd note for a pro-faux piece, as Gates goes on to ask Pollan if he’s tried the newer meat alternatives, and Pollan replies that he “has not yet been overly impressed” with the ones he’s seen. Pollan calls such products “a legitimate option for a conscious carnivore – though it must be said that growing more soy is no boon to the landscape either.”

Gates has gotten some flack in the past for his foundation’s support of research into genetically modified crops. To me, promoting meat substitutes seems far less controversial — when we’ve got Field Roast hot dogs at Safeco Field, we can say it’s practically on the way to all-American.

Comments | Topics: Beyond Meat, Bill Gates, Mark Bittman

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