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Food For Thought
Will we consume meat in the future?

Meat production has now become unprofitable for both the planet and our health. In addition, 95% of people who choose to limit meat in their diet state that they do so for health reasons. Where do they resort to? To the ever-increasing meat alternatives. "Alternatives" literally and figuratively, since companies are now struggling to create the most delicious meat… without meat! In addition to all that, we see that plant-based proteins are a hot topic nowadays and their supply is constantly increasing, always in relation to the -also increasing- demand. So, reading all this, one question comes to mind: Will we eat meat in the future or not?

"Of course, we will!", experts answer; it’s just that from generation to generation, the options will change. Think of our generation, for example. We love meat in all its versions. Millennials, on the other hand, say they are fans of its more…"green" version. The answer, however, to what the future holds for meat (in terms of diet) may lie somewhere in between, slightly towards the preferences of millennials. What does this mean?

It means that “conscious eating” is one of the hottest trends of our time. What does it include? Thought! Simply thinking before consuming (but also purchasing), which has to do with how the food we choose affects our body and -if you want to go one step further- what effects it has on the environment throughout its life cycle.

So, based on all the above, meat will start to lose ground in terms of consumer preferences, while fruits and vegetables will become more and more popular, reaching the point where they will be one of the hottest diet trends of our time, along with the -as much as possible- less processed foods. This is how the next 20-30 years will be regarding the consumption of meat, fruits, and vegetables, but also what they represent for our diet.

Marketing, however, is already keeping up with the #eatlessmeat era; as for the market, sooner or later, we will see some new information added next to the food labels of products, and it will be about their "ecological" footprint; that is, the product’s impact on the environment. Social media, on the other hand, have somehow taken on the role of a "trainer" by informing people about the new "smart" ways of eating, while recommending more… organic, eco-friendly and vegan choices which -apart from dairy products- are beginning to expand to other areas, such as that of meat. What does this mean? That apart from plant-based milks, cheeses, etc., we will also have plant-based…meat!

So, we will indeed see significant growth in this area, but that doesn't mean it will banish meat from our diet completely. It will simply gain more ground and become part of the market. Meat, therefore, is not excluded from our diet, but the vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian alternatives are increasing. Then, they will not be… “minorities” on a menu, but strong, equally delicious categories and -why not? - competitive against those aimed at meat lovers.

And one last thing that we must not forget… A recipe without meat was not necessarily created to compete with the nutritional value of a salad. It was created - first and foremost! - in response to the approximately 315 million tons of meat consumed worldwide each year. What does this mean? That a meatless meal is not necessarily healthy. However, it is not healthy to eat meat daily or - even worse - in every meal either. So, now we have (and will continue to have) countless alternatives to create delicious and nutrient-rich meatless dishes at least a few days a week.

Keeping this in mind, we are moving towards a future not without meat, but with less meat and more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seasonal fruits grown with respect for the rhythms of nature and the environment. In a future where nutrition has more variety with casseroles, legumes, and fish making a great comeback. This is the traditional Mediterranean diet or -simply- the diet of an older generation when meat was the exception to the menu and not the rule. Whether we will follow it or not, is up to us and OUR PLATE.

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Sources:

EU Science Hub

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Organisation for EconomicCo-operation and Development (OECD)