On Saturday, I went to a vegan cookout.
A good friend of mine, who swears by his vegan diet, set the whole thing up, and told no one that there would be no animal products being served.
Not that any of us would’ve been surprised, as I don’t think he’s eaten a piece of meat in more than ten years. But there were a few people desperately searching the buffet tables for something that once mooed, oinked or clucked. Even a deviled egg would have sufficed. But this was a strict vegan setup.
It wasn’t bad, though. In fact, the food was quite good. And to be honest, I’ve always loved vegan food. I actually once dated a woman who was a vegan chef and I would devour the meals she would make for me. My favorites were: Coconut Millet Bowls with Kabocha Squash, Bitter Squash Soup, Spicy Chinese Eggplant and Japanese Winter Stew.
That being said, I also have no issues with eating meat. Although I only buy meat from my local farm, where I know the animals aren’t abused and the nutritional content of that meat is off the charts. At least when compared to the slop they pump out at all those concentrated animal feedlots where the animals are treated like soulless widgets and forced to wallow in their own feces. Hard pass on that!
Most of the folks at this vegan cookout were strictly vegan, though, with a few of them challenging me on my meat consumption, focusing primarily on their opposition to killing animals.
But the reality is that even strict vegan diets result in the death of living organisms.
You see, there are massive universes of microbes that live in the soil where plants are grown. Some of those microbes die when plants are sprayed with pesticides or simply harvested and eaten.
And as someone who has worked on a farm, I can also tell you that during the harvesting process – particularly when it comes to soybeans – it’s not uncommon to see dozens of mutilated field mice and rabbits shoot out of the back of the tractors.
Certainly I get no joy in this, but it makes no sense to deny this inconvenient truth.
That doesn’t mean I criticize folks for being vegan for ethical reasons. Their intentions are honorable, and I applaud anyone who wants to live a more compassionate life. But to suggest that a vegan diet is completely free of animal deaths is untrue.
So during the many discussions I had at this cookout about the “ethics of food,” I was surprised to learn that so few of these folks were familiar with cultured meat. Especially when you consider that growing meat in a lab results in the deaths of zero animals.
Being able to source food in a more compassionate way is not something I oppose at all, and even advocate. But the truth is, my primary interest in cultured meat is really more about food security.
While world hunger has steadily declined over the past few decades, from 2019 to 2022, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 150 million. And we know that as extreme weather events, such as severe droughts and heat waves become the new normal, this number is likely to grow.
Cultured meat and cellular agriculture provide a very real solution to food insecurity, and it’s the primary reason I find it so fascinating, and of course, integral to the survival of our species.
I’m not saying we’re all going to die of starvation anytime soon. But without a viable alternative form of affordable meat protein production, we will absolutely see an exacerbation of global food insecurity. And this represents both a major crisis and a major opportunity. Particularly when it comes to utilizing new technologies to combat this crisis.
Here are a few examples …
- Satellite imagery that can monitor crops and send alerts about their conditions, offering data on other farming practices, droughts and weather patterns, and management. There is one company in particular that has the most advanced technology when it comes to the satellite monitoring of crops, and that’s Planet Labs (NYSE: PL). You can read more about Planet Labs’ technology here.
- Gene editing technology that can design more resilient, high-yield seeds. One company that’s leading the way on this is Cibus (NASDAQ: CBUS), which is basically an AgTech company that develops and licenses plant traits to seed companies for royalties.
- And of course, my favorite, cultured meat and cellular agriculture. And again, the only play worth your attention in the space is CULT Food Science (OTCBB: CULTF), which I will continue to scream from the top of the roofs as a buy. At current levels, it’s just insanely cheap. You can check out CULT’s latest investment report here.
It may not be the most interesting thing to discuss in investment circles, but as food insecurity continues to rise behind the backdrop of a changing climate, you can be sure that the opportunity to solve food security issues will be a very profitable one.