Are Meat Substitute Companies Honest About Their Environmental Footprint?

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Alternative protein is often considered as the savior of the environment, as more activists declare that is better for the planet than industrial animal agriculture. This is widely agreed upon, among many scientists and researchers and it’s often only met with disagreement from some conservative scientists and some historians as well as the meat industry itself.

Lately, a sustainability research company that rates companies on their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) performance is calling that into question too.

The company Sustainalytics spoke to the New York Times about the impact of alternative protein industry leaders such as  Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

The firm gave Beyond Meat a ‘zero’ on its sustainability measures and even criticizing that they do not have enough information to confirm whether it’s different from the meatpacking firm, JBS.

JBS is the largest beef producer in the world, they have a significant environmental footprint: the problem is that neither Beyond Meat nor Impossible Foods disclose the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) its supply chain produces. This is according to critics at the New York Times.

Ricardo San Martin, of the University of California, told the outlet: 

“The dominant narrative from the industry and the venture capitalists supporting it is that these companies are better for the environment. They’re better for health, they’re better for this and better for that.

“But it is really a black box. So much of what is in these products is undisclosed. Everybody has a supply chain, and there is a carbon footprint behind that chain.”

Beyond Meat say that they are helping the planet by making people switch to meat substitutes. Moreover, they say Beyond Burgers ‘can be made by generating 90 percent fewer GHGs’ than their real beef competitor.

Impossible Foods founder Patrick Brown told the New York times that the problem is with the current ESG standards do not contemplate what they are doing and that the existing framework doesn’t recognize and appreciate their impact on the environment which is to reduce emissions.

Both behemoths commissioned reports on their environmental footprints, but many analysts say that those are4 not telling the whole story, as the New York Times reports. 

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