Thank you for coming to our ted Talk About Meat
Seriously, if you are going to read this, then thank you. This is our love letter to the earth, the anchor behind our company ethos and why we get up in the morning everyday. What our planet is going through to sustain our love for meat keeps us up at night and it needs to change. So if you decide to read this, thank you! If you don't, that's ok too - thank you for coming!
Few things in life are as satisfying as grilling, cooking, braising, or roasting meat. Meat is an intricate part of every culture, and we often associate it with celebrations, holidays and spending time with friends and family. We are all on the same page that removing meat completely from our lives would leave a hole that no salad could ever really fill. With amazing research and development and some cool techie know-how in the kitchen, plant-based foods are becoming more and more like their animal based counterparts and are pretty meaty and satisfying. However, at Crossover Meats, we understand that plant-based meat can be a bit too expensive to make part of your nightly family menu much less invite 20 of your closest friends over for that 4th of July plant-based BBQ (not that was really an option for any of us this past year). We also understand that we aren’t quite at the point where meat will completely come off the menu, because, frankly, meat is delicious....
But what about our planet? Scientific evidence that meat is horrible for the environment isn’t something anyone can ignore. Our current meat industry is not sustainable, especially with a global economy creating greater demand for meat in markets like China and Africa who will have a combined ~4B consumers by 2050, demanding their share of the meat pie (seriously, thank goodness most of India is vegetarian).
But we’re just here to tell you that, after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, we’ve found a better way to make meat. One that strikes a balance between our meat-eating needs and our planet-saving deeds. We’re not here trying to reduce cow farts by feeding them lemongrass diets, we’re just incorporating all-natural chicken protein to make great tasting products with no GMOs, additives, or anything you can’t pronounce, while trying to save the planet in the process! Talk about a crossover event.
Let's Talk About Land
We’re not going to comment on whether or not your New York “apartment” is the right place for a St. Bernard to live, but we think we can all agree, cows, pigs and sheep need a bit more space to roam than your domesticated pet (for the record, pot-bellied pigs should not live in apartments no matter how small or cute they might be at first). In fact, half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture - and a 77% majority of that agricultural land is used for raising livestock. And yet, somehow, the tiny 23% of agricultural land that’s used for crops for us to eat makes up the majority of the world’s calorie and protein supply (which is kind of ironic, but that’s for another company to harp on).
As is usually the case, beef is the worst offender - it requires 28 times more land to produce than chicken, and 95 times more land than crickets (Ever heard a cricket chirping and went to try to find it without success? That’s how little land these mysterious musicians need. But that shouldn’t matter because we aren’t looking to make crickets our main protein source). That type of usage - combined with the fact that the world’s desire for meat will only continue to grow isn’t sustainable for our planet no matter which way you cut it. To keep up with demand, more forests will have to be cleared and more land will have to be used for grazing and for animal feed (which is counterintuitive from an emissions standpoint, but we’ll get further into that below). To lower that demand, you’ve probably heard the recommendations: cricket protein, lab-grown meat, plant-based alternatives, or go full vegan. And, yes, we could do that... But plant-based is expensive, crickets are gross, lab grown meat is…. weird, and there’s no way we’re gonna go the rest of our lives eating kale. So when we were presented with two options: keep eating meat and letting the planet pay the price for it, or never have a taco carnitas al pastor again, we dug our heels in and found a third.
Enter chicken: your favorite yardbird that can’t seem to take a step forward without also moving its neck. But despite the awkward walk, chickens take up far less land than beef - which means a more land-efficient way to eat meat. “But wait,” you say. “Chicken is great, but I can’t just replace beef with it full time.” We hear you. That’s why we put them both together, for the best of both worlds: the land-efficiency of chicken, with the taste of real beef. You’re welcome for not putting crickets in your patties.
Let's talk about water
“Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink” is a fun little quote now, but if we’re not careful, it could become our reality. Yes, we’re on a planet that’s 70% water, but only a tiny portion of that is fresh, drinkable water. And - we’ll put it simply here - a big portion of that tiny portion is used for livestock. One-third of our freshwater consumption goes towards animal usage.
And that’s not just because the livestock industry is so large. Scaled down, it still takes a whopping 1,850 gallons of water for a pound of beef - that’s about 22 bathtubs for, well, a single pound of beef. Add to this type of usage the fact that we only have a limited amount of water on Earth, and hopefully you’ll forgive us for sounding like your hippy coworker. We aren’t, of course, but we’re still worried. We get it: when you bite into a juicy burger, or a delicious taco, it feels so far removed from the production process that you can’t help but want more. No one bites into the way-too-expensive cheeseburger they DoorDashed on a whim and thinks, “Hey, this is worth 22 bathtubs of water!” We think, “Honestly, this probably wasn’t worth the $25 delivery fee. Still a pretty solid cheeseburger, though.”
But the truth still remains, whether we ignore it or not, that we have to find a better way to eat meat if we want to maintain water security. Yes, water is notably less delicious than beef (although you need water to make beer, which is much tastier) but water is essential to all life and we still need it. So, in the interest of the planet, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water and just find a way to do better and use less in producing meat.
Cockadoodle doo, ladies and gentlemen - chickens take about a fourth the amount of water to produce a pound of meat compared to cows. That’s a huge reduction that could mean the difference of almost a Great Lake annually if everyone got on board (we think Chick-Fil-A’s cows would appreciate that as well).
But the whole planet replacing beef with chicken is a lot to ask for - delicious as chicken may be, sometimes nothing can beat a good burger. Put the chicken into the beef, though, and suddenly you’re onto something: a less water-intensive alternative to ground beef that doesn’t even taste different.
Transportation, farming processes, cow farts, whatever - the fact is, the livestock industry is producing more emissions than our planet can take. As you’ve probably noticed is usually the case, we’ve got the most beef with beef - the worst meat there is in terms of emissions (and everything else environmental-related). For every pound of beef consumed, about 30 pounds of CO2 equivalents is released into the atmosphere - that’s CO2 from transportation, processing, cooking, waste disposal, and everything else you can think of - and methane from burps, farts, and manure. Sure, that methane isn’t being produced at the same levels of CO2 (cows can only pass gas so much), but it’s about 30 times more potent when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere.
When all is said and done, livestock emissions total to about 7.1 gigatons of greenhouse gasses equivalent per year - that’s 14.5% of all our emissions (Stop, re-read that, let that sink in… that’s a crazy amount of farts. Your jaw should have dropped).
And here, we’d like to swing back to the irony of deforestation to make room for all these methane farting machines. We all learned back in high school (ready for a quick time warp?) that trees use photosynthesis to take CO2 from the air and convert it into food, which releases oxygen (you know, what we breathe?) back into the environment. So, we’re cutting down the living machine that converts our wasted air into clean air and helps us fight greenhouse gasses, to make room for something that creates significantly more wasted air… Anyway, we digress…
In summary, we’ve got a whole lot of CO2 which is already pretty bad, a little bit of methane which is a whole lot worse, and a planet that can only take so much of both. Just like water and land use, we need to be more aware of the emissions behind all the meat we eat and the physical impact it is having on the planet. You can see your old 2005 Honda Civic spewing out noxious fumes and decide, hey, you know what, I saw they were having a sale on hybrids, maybe it’s time for a trade-in, but when we throw some patties on the grill, the only emissions we get are the smoky kind that smell freakin’ delicious. So we get it, ignorance is bliss and quite tasty. But at the end of the day, the fat lady will sing, and we can’t keep ignoring the type of stuff the meat industry is releasing into our atmosphere, and we need to make impactful changes before the cows come home.
“Impactful changes” may mean cutting out beef to some, but we know that not everyone is going to do that (because not everyone is as woke as you are, you who have taken the time to read this really compelling environmental rant) - that’s why, after a lot of work, we figured out a way to add the lower-emission, lower-fart chicken to the mix, without losing the flavor of the beef. So you can eat some tacos without thinking about how many deadly farts you’re responsible for.
A lesson in Flavor
You might be wondering at this point how the heck do our products actually taste just like their 100% beef, pork or lamb counterparts. You might also think if you mix chicken and beef together and it just tastes like beef and it’s better for the environment why hasn’t everyone been doing that all along?
The truth is that we have a secret ingredient. Well, it’s not that much of a secret or interesting, and if you eat meat, you’re eating it regularly anyway. Are you ready? Lean in close… It’s blood. Now - before you go thinking we’re vampires or crazy Brits who love Black Pudding, let’s talk a bit about what blood means for meat in terms of flavor and iron.
If you’re an experienced meat eater, you might well know that there is a distinct difference between the way meat tastes vs plants but do you understand why? Many brilliant people have scratched their heads over this, and came up with the conclusion that the major difference in taste between animal protein and plant protein was the presence of blood and the abundance of the heme protein. If you have had a run in with the plant-based Impossible Burger and thought to yourself, they’ve lied to me, this is 100% meat, it’s even bleeding! They have not in fact lied to you, they have just been able to design a plant-based heme to mimic that desirable flavor of beef. Now, this of course is a vast oversimplification of a very complex subject but in a nutshell, the flavor you have come to love while eating meat is brought to you by the ingredient that so many of us have turned our nose up at, blood.
So, when we took out over half the beef from an all-beef burger and replaced it with chicken protein, we knew we needed a way to make up for that tasty flavor so that you would actually eat and enjoy our products. Not only does adding the beef blood create an identical taste to a 100% beef burger, but it’s great for you too, since beef blood has a high protein content, and is a perfect all natural, highly absorbable iron (much more absorbable than those iron tablets you have been taking each morning).
Read this if you like boring facts, skip to the last paragraph if you’re already sold: Blood contains both hemoglobin and myoglobin. The precursor to hemoglobin is heme (which if you read above, is what Impossible Foods has plant-based hijacked). Not only does heme provide a ton of iron, making up for anything we lose by substituting some chicken, but it also causes the specific chemical reactions that give meat it’s smell and taste. Throw in myoglobin, which is actually what gives meat its color through oxidation, and you have a chicken-beef blend that tastes exactly like 100% beef. Voila!
So really, that’s it. That’s the secret. We use a product most folks throw away, that’s in meat anyway, and we’re able to make ground meat that’s better for the environment but still tastes exactly like any other all ground meats. When you think about it, we’re kind of amazed nobody else came up with this before. Maybe it’s just because we’re geniuses, but we’ll let you decide that one.
Price Price Baby
Let’s face it - choosing the healthy and sustainable option has not always the cheapest. Replacing meat in your diet with the tastiest plant-based options could cost twice as much as real meat. For many, this is not doable, especially for families. We know that companies making plant-based meat are the ones fighting the good fight. But it’s hard for plant-based to be viable for everyone when it still means paying plant-based premiums.
Crossover Meats’ products are made with chicken, which not just cuts down the environmental impact of the product but also the cost. Our products are up to 20% cheaper than regular ground meat products, allowing everyone to make the choice to eat more consciously every day of the week without giving up dishes that they and their family love. With options like plant-based foods along with Crossover Meats products, we can all work toward saving the planet and reducing the impact of our food choices on the environment.