There is probably no request that makes me more anxious than to discuss the “Future of Meat.”
Not because I am concerned or unfamiliar with the issues, but because I never know what the assumptions of the discussion are going to be. Are we going to discuss all meat including those derived from monogastric chickens and pigs that can’t digest cellulose, or is meat actually a misnomer for beef? And are we going to discuss all beef, or is beef a proxy for meat from beef cattle alone, ignoring the contribution of dairy cattle? Are we going to discuss the cow/calf sector, or the feedlot sector, or grass-finished beef? Are we going to talk about the United States alone, or the developing world, or the whole world? And are we basing the discussion on greenhouse gas emissions, or land/water or energy use; and on what basis—per animal, or per kg product, or per kg protein and/or micronutrient? All of these constraints lead to differing answers, and not understanding these nuances is a recipe for conflicting, confusing, and contradictory messages—and a flock of angry Twitter tweets!