Can This Burger Save the Planet?: Synthetic Beef and the Dream of an American Animal-free Diet

Sustainable food movements are focused on reducing meat consumption for one simple reason: meat is extremely environmentally costly. This enormous resource use by one industry makes it an appealing target for those looking to reduce American resource use. As a result, many are looking at ways to make livestock more sustainable. And there are two main ways to do so. Clover Food Lab represents one idea: a return to local farming with an emphasis on a plant-based diet. Impossible Foods is the second: using biotechnology to provide a sacrifice free alternative, synthetic beef. These companies aren’t solutions in of themselves, but proposals on the way solutions should be implemented. The partnership between these two opposing strategies reveals the promises and pitfalls of trying to reform the American diet and, most importantly, that above all else our food system is unsustainable as it is now.


Ashley Junger

About Ashley Junger

Ashley grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, her bedroom shelves littered with well worn books and various rocks found while exploring the surrounding creek system. As an undergraduate at DePauw University, she pursued both of these passions, double-majoring in Biology and English Literature. While pursuing her bachelors, she was also an Environmental Fellow, and on the executive board of both the environmental club and the outdoors club. Ashley explored her interests with several internships, researching water purification methods for a non-profit, studying butterfly population dynamics in a Costa Rican nature reserve, and writing about antibiotic resistance for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s magazine. Ashley found she was most engaged when she worked on projects that combined her interest in the natural world with her passion for writing, especially when she could focus on human impacts on the environment. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys experimenting with embroidery, hiking, and trying out new recipies. Thesis: Can This Burger Save the Planet?: Synthetic Beef and the Dream of an American Animal-free Diet


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