Can Hemp Take Over the Plant-Based Food Market?

High Times write

Meat consumption is rising globally (starting with the U.S.). The American market alone is worth about $270 billion annually, out of a market worth about $1.5 Trillion dollars globally. Unfortunately this is also a vertical which is increasingly unsustainable from the climate change perspective—forget the moral issues involved. As Mr. Rogers famously said, he could not eat anything that had a mother.

Less prosaically, cow farts are the top agricultural source of greenhouse gases. Each cow emits about 220 pounds of methane annually. As a result, reducing methane emissions via transitioning the planet to animal-protein-free alternatives is also seen as the biggest opportunity to slow global heating in a relatively short 20 years or so. Given that this single source also creates about a third of the human-caused methane emissions, this is a significant issue. Particularly as other environmental efforts to halt the impending climate emergency—such as switching to solar and other fossil fuel free energy sources—are still so politically problematic.

That is also an impactful thing to say in world now suffering from a(nother) global heatwave this summer.

In Germany, where recreational cannabis reform is now in the offing, the topic is getting serious attention. Not to mention some funding. For example, the University of Hohenheim (in Stuttgart) was given a million euro grant last year from the regional government to study how hemp could replace protein-rich foods—from schnitzel to tofu and pasta.

No matter its “crunchy” reputation, the animal-free protein sector is also a highly significant market. Forty percent of the meat substitutes currently produced globally are sold across Europe. This is one of the reasons that the E.U. has actually moved ahead fairly quickly on this aspect of cannabis reform. This market is also expected to reach about $28 billion globally by 2025. That is good news for early adopters who are making the switch to vegan alternatives for health and environmental reasons—forget the economic incentives. The more mainstream, the faster broader adoption will be. This is good news too. The more animal slaughter can be reduced, so can the breeding of animals for this purpose.

The Superfood That Is High in Protein

There are many wondrous aspects of the cannabis plant. One of them is that hemp seeds are a superfood full of vitamins and other nutrients. Beyond this, the seeds of the hemp plant can contain as much as 25% protein—making them similar to egg whites. The seeds also contain all essential amino acids and are easy to digest. The end result creates a chewy, meat-like texture that is highly satisfying to consumers.

Not every hemp variety, at least according to German research during this study so far, creates the desired results. The scientists involved in the investigation are currently growing 20 varieties of hemp in test plots.

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Will Hemp Take Over the Plant-Based Food Market?