Dan Gluck on the Opportunity for Massive, Positive Changes in Our Food System

Dan Gluck — May 4, 2022


As it stands, our food sys­tem is bro­ken. It’s unsus­tain­able, inef­fi­cient, and inhu­mane. We launched Pow­er­Plant Part­ners sev­er­al years ago to cap­i­tal­ize on what we saw as a mas­sive oppor­tu­ni­ty in rebuild­ing our food sys­tem to be health­i­er, more sus­tain­able, and kinder to ani­mals. 

The world is unpre­pared to meet the food pro­duc­tion needs of an ever-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. But, plen­ty of research sup­ports that tran­si­tion­ing to more plant-based diets could cre­ate last­ing change and fix our bro­ken food sys­tem. These truths moti­vate our work to active­ly invest in com­pa­nies that are inno­vat­ing and cre­at­ing prod­ucts that are bet­ter for us and the plan­et.

The High Cost of the Aver­age Amer­i­can Diet

The aver­age Amer­i­can diet is con­tribut­ing to the degra­da­tion of our envi­ron­ment and our health. 70% of Amer­i­can adults are over­weight or obese.

These indi­vid­u­als are at high­er risk of a num­ber of med­ical con­di­tions and bear the finan­cial bur­den of high med­ical costs. Not only are there high per­son­al costs, but high envi­ron­men­tal costs as well. 

Live­stock takes up 77% of agri­cul­tur­al land glob­al­ly, but only makes up 18% of the calo­rie sup­ply and 37% of the pro­tein sup­ply. Agri­cul­ture and live­stock account for 25% and 14% of glob­al green­house gas emis­sions, respec­tive­ly. Ani­mal pro­teins use 10x the fos­sil fuels and 5x the amount of water in pro­duc­tion than their plant-based pro­tein coun­ter­parts. These num­bers show a seri­ous inef­fi­cien­cy in our cur­rent food sys­tem, but also offer a promis­ing solu­tion: plant-for­ward diets.

Plant Pro­teins: Acces­si­ble and Afford­able

One of the biggest obsta­cles to get­ting peo­ple to eat more plants is the notion that plant-based diets are inac­ces­si­ble and expen­sive. In real­i­ty, plant-based diets are inher­ent­ly more acces­si­ble and afford­able than ani­mal pro­tein diets. Grow­ing and pro­duc­ing plant pro­teins takes sig­nif­i­cant­ly less resources than ani­mal pro­teins. Stud­ies have found that nutri­tion­al­ly com­pa­ra­ble plant-based diets pro­duce twofold and 20-fold more pro­tein per acre than the ani­mal pro­teins and ani­mal byprod­ucts (in this study, beef and eggs) they replace.

If we all ate more plants, the prob­lems we cur­rent­ly face could be dimin­ished. We could low­er CO2 emis­sions, reduce glob­al mor­tal­i­ty, and save tril­lions of dol­lars on health­care spent on diet-relat­ed ill­ness­es. Not to men­tion, we’d save bil­lions of ani­mals – 68 bil­lion die each year for food at inhu­mane fac­to­ry farms. Not only are plant-based diets more humane, but these ani­mals could be used in regen­er­a­tive farm­ing efforts to main­tain the bio­di­ver­si­ty of our plan­et.

Chang­ing the Nar­ra­tive Around Plant-Based Diets

Assum­ing that every­one will tran­si­tion to a 100% plant-based diet is unre­al­is­tic. But, if more peo­ple choose to incor­po­rate more plant-based meals into their diets, we can expect some mas­sive, and pos­i­tive, changes to our food sys­tem and beyond. Large sys­temic changes like these take time, but chang­ing the nar­ra­tive around plant-based diets and find­ing ways to seam­less­ly include plant-for­ward prod­ucts into our dai­ly lives is a chal­lenge I’m pas­sion­ate about tack­ling.

Ulti­mate­ly, it’s my goal to play a role in mov­ing our food sys­tem beyond nat­ur­al resource pro­tec­tion and even sus­tain­abil­i­ty to regen­er­a­tion: that means while we feed and nour­ish our­selves, we simul­ta­ne­ous­ly renew and replen­ish soil, forests, oceans, cli­mate, and our con­nec­tion to each oth­er, our plan­et and those with whom we share it. Togeth­er, we can make a mas­sive impact. Now is the time!

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