COMMENT: Edge of Tomorrow

Weighing in on a future that looks decidedly green

Opinion, Columnists

I know that it’s today. This is ironic as I am accused of being a dreamer, but most of the internet is babbling on about tomorrow, so I thought that I would also babble on about tomorrow; tackling three separate topics in this column and see if I can make any sense of any of them.

‘The world is changing’ is a phrase that is used more often than ‘there are too many restaurants’ and the Big Data that tech brings will highlight how we need to adapt our behaviour in order to ultimately leave the planet in a better place than we found it. The three topics have a vague connection with this vague notion.

Meatless Meats

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Every child and the occasional adult thinks that breaking wind is funny, but if you are passing a wandering cow and it lets loose, then the humour and your speed of retreat is presumably fourfold. However, the methane output of livestock accounts for around 8-18% of greenhouse emissions and that certainly isn’t funny. Global meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 but the number of animals required to satisfy that demand is untenable, given their contribution to global warming, that roughly a fifth of the world’s pastures have been destroyed by overgrazing, that 75% of human diseases originated in animals, and that it takes a staggering amount of water to produce a kilo of beef. No wonder then investors such as Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates are piling their cash into companies like Memphis Meats and Beyond Meats, which are trying to develop sustainable alternatives to meat.

Circle The Wagons

Which brings us onto veganism, plant-based diets, flexitarians and fruitarians — modern lifestyle choices that are worn as badges of honour. If you are just a vegetarian then you are seriously behind the times – ditch the dairy and start milking those almonds for all you are worth.

The rise in plant-based diets has been spectacular, partly driven by the animal issues above and the general belief that meats have been modified to get them onto our plates as quickly as possible, but also driven by the Insta-culture of today, where every picture of a plant-based dish is rich with colours, oozing with pomposity and generally showcased by tattooed beautiful people with unnervingly shiny skin and teeth. But the movement is here to stay and I guess everyone has a choice to jump on or circle the wagons, after all you can’t pump an avocado full of additives.

Chicken Or Fish?

You can’t eat on the Dubai Metro. Although I haven’t been on one for ages, so I might be wrong, for fear of 144 different cuisines meeting mid-carriage and assaulting available nasal space.

So the impending Dubai-Abu Dhabi Hyperloop may well take the not-eating-on-transport ruling to a whole new level. But there again you are only in the metal toilet roll for less time than it has taken you to get to this point and your biggest challenge may well be to keep any earlier meal within.

I can’t see anyone pushing a trolley down the aisle asking if you want chicken or fish, oh by the way the chicken is finished, whilst the world outside hurtles past at breakneck speed. But when we get to long-distance hyperlooping – say Dubai to Jeddah — we could get some sort of space age food where the muffin is actually flat but the speed of travel makes it look normal. Or maybe not.

About the Author: Sanjay Murthy is managing director of Figjam, a concept development agency that strongly believes in externally focused strategies that puts the customer at the heart of every decision. With over 25 years of brand development experience, Sanjay is a strong believer in social capitalism and that businesses should follow the example of the New Zealand All Blacks, and seek to leave the jersey (in this case, the world) in a better place than they found it. He can be reached at sanjay@figjamco.com.

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