OAKLAND, Calif. - When we think of global warming and climate change, we most often think of vehicle exhaust, factory fumes, smoke and the rest of the world burning anything and everything to warm people and catch up with wold wide manufacturing and economics.
But, farm animals, worldwide, contribute a huge amount of earth-warming greenhouse gases.
A cooler, healthier, safer world demands far less atmospheric pollution.
Make no mistake, the overwhelming majority of humans eat meat. They like its texture, appearance, fat, aroma and, most of all, the taste.
But, UN scientists calculate that livestock accounts for about 15 percent of annual human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, two-thirds of that coming from producing meat and milk.
Livestock produces methane, a greenhouse gas thirty times more capable of trapping atmospheric heat than CO2, the main greenhouse gas.
"Forty-five percent of the non-frozen landmass is actually used to raise those cattle," said biochemist John York, who is the chief scientist at Redwood City/Oakland-based Impossible Foods, arguably the world leader in plant-based meatless meat production. "We use science and our understanding of the processes of why humans like meat. and then use everything from plants to reconstruct the chemistry and using science to make a product that tastes just like meat."
The magic comes from Heme, a molecule that's in almost all plants and animals. Heme has iron in it and helps plant material take on the look, feel and flavor of meat, especially hamburgers.
"It mimics the chemistry of what happens when you cook a piece of meat," said York.
How is this good for humanity's home planet? On essentially the same acreage currently needed to raise cattle: "It's 87% less water and it's 89% less greenhouse gas emission which is absolutely staggering," York said.
Already, Burger King, Carl's Junior, White Castle, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Starbuck's and Subway offer plant-based meat on their menus. Plant-based meat contains no cholesterol, no animal hormones or antibiotics.
Besides the environmental and personal health issues, many folks pick plant-based meats on a moral basis, to reduce the slaughter of animals for food.
The Animal Place is a two-farm animal sanctuary in Vacaville and Grass Valley.
"In the United States alone, we kill ten billion land animals for people to eat; that's every single year," said the Animal Places’ Kelcie Leach.
And it has a huge and negative impact on our environment as we know.
And, Impossible Foods has lots of competition.
The Plant-Based Food Association has gone from 22 member companies five years ago to 157 today.