Food Tech: Plant-Based Alternatives to Meat and Dairy

The future of food is plant-based. Here are 11 start-ups working on innovative plant-based (and lab created) meat and dairy alternatives.

We have a beef with the meat and dairy industry.

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, meat and dairy account for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Just one kilogram of beef requires 25 kg of feed, 20,000 litres of water and produces 22 kg of greenhouse gases. In fact one-third of all freshwater that humans consume goes to livestock, which then produce more environmental pollution than all the cars worldwide.

One of the most significant ways to reduce carbon emissions is to shift towards a plant-based diet. In a study published in Science journal researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent. The study's lead author Joseph Poore said: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use."

Fortunately, veganism, and plant based diets, have gone from being a fringe movement to mainstream. Issues of health, animal welfare and concern over climate change is driving more people to switch to a more sustainable and compassionate diet, with more and more food companies creating animal-free products to meet increasing demand.

The global market for sustainable meat alternatives is the fastest growing segment of the food industry and according to a Barclay’s report, it’s expected to reach US$140 billion annually by 2030. We’ve followed the skyward trajectory of plant-based milk companies like Califia and Oatly, and seen Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat extend their reach to everything from restaurants, supermarket shelves, and popular fast food chains (finally a vegan burger on your junk food cheat day). It seems that every week we see another food tech start-up, as companies develop bio-identical meat and dairy products.