Billionaire Bill Gates is a vegetarian who has become a vocal advocate for a plant-based diet. Gates says a vegetarian diet is healthier and more environmentally friendly than a meat-based diet, and notes that the production of meat is responsible for over half the greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
"[Moving toward a vegetarian diet is] important too in light of the environmental impacts of large-scale meat and dairy production, with livestock estimated to produce nearly 51% of the world’s greenhouse gases," Gates blogged on Mashable March 21.
"The global population is on track to reach nine billion by 2050. What are all those people going to eat? With billions of people adding more animal protein to their diets — meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 — it seems clear that arable land for raising livestock won’t be able to keep up."
Gates, the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, regularly blogs about the future of food on his website, Gates Notes.
Bill says there are great innovations taking place in food production that can create delicious plant-based meat substitutes that mimic the taste and texture of meat.
"Food scientists are now creating meat alternatives that truly taste like — and have the same “mouth feel” — as their nature-made counterparts," says Gates. "All this innovation could be great news for people concerned about health problems related to over-consumption of fat, salt and cholesterol."
Gates, 57, says the innovations can also help with hunger-relief efforts in poor countries. In 2012, the Gates Foundation announced plans to invest in genetically-modified agriculture to combat world hunger.
While the move has been criticized by some, Gates insists a plant-based diet is the cornerstone of superior health, hunger relief, and is better for the environment.
"There are thousands of plant proteins in the world, and many of them have yet to be explored for use in the production of meat alternatives," he says. "I’m hopeful that we can begin to meet the demand for a protein-rich diet in a new way. We’re just at the beginning of enormous innovation in this space."