George Monbiot is a popular columnist for The Guardian, environmental campaigner, author of many best-selling books, Ted Talk speaker, and creator of several viral videos, including one with Greta Thunberg called Natural Climate Solutions which has been watched over 60 million times. He describes his job as “telling people what they don’t want to hear.”
His latest book, Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet, tackles issues relating to the global food systems and that we are at an urgent breaking point.
Monbiot, a supporter of the Plant Based Treaty, switched to a plant-based diet in 2016 to reduce his impact on the environment and the “living world” as he shared in this article for The Guardian.
Regenesis has the power to revolutionize the foods we eat to save millions of animals and the environment from catastrophe.
“With technology that already exists, we could sustainably provide everyone on the planet with a healthy diet. By cultivating hydrogen-eating bacteria, deep-rooted plants, and much richer communities of insects--coupled with existing technology to reduce our dependence on meat--we can dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, solve world hunger, and halt the sixth extinction at the same time.” – Penguin Random House Canada
Monbiot poetically begins Regenesis in an orchard in central England and explains the damage that has been done to the earth’s soil by farming over many decades and how half of our habitable land is being used to produce food. He brilliantly writes about fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, sewage issues, microplastics, agricultural chemicals and names many big corporations that control these chemicals. Regenesis goes through the history of farming in great length and how we have ended up with the environmental disaster we face today.
“When farmers purchase a seed and chemical package from these conglomerates, then buy, in effect, a set of decisions about how they will farm.” (Regenesis, page 35).
It’s actually quite sad reading the first half of the book especially when Monbiot describes how the United States federal and state governments have waged war against wildlife with “astonishing brutality.” Farmed animals killed for food aren’t the only creatures suffering in the animal agriculture industry - there are many exploited victims.
The entire food system needs fixing if we are to save our earth and with this in mind Monbiot writes in the second half of his book how this is possible. The challenge, he explains, is how to produce more food for a growing population while using less land.
Monbiot introduces readers to solar foods and Pasi Vainikka’s company. He explains how producing bacterial protein in tanks with solar panels is possible and suggests that a lot of our food supply could be farmfree if we use bacteria to make protein.
“So if you maintain good growth conditions you can harvest half of them eight times a day, every day of the year. This technology could release almost all of the land currently needed to produce protein, whether it comes in the form of plants or animals.” (Regenesis, page 188).
Monbiot describes what it’s like to eat a pancake made with bacteria created under a solar panel. Whether it makes you want to cringe or try it with maple syrup, it could change the way many people eat food moving forward.
Do you think people will eat bacteria as their main source of protein to avoid animal agriculture?
Will people be willing to change their food habits in order to, quite literally, save the world?
These are crucial questions and only time will tell if bacteria will replace animal agriculture.
My vegan family loves pancakes on Saturday morning and I have made completely plant-based protein pancakes that turned out delicious without using bacteria. But since the world is not yet vegan and animal agriculture continues to destroy lives and precious land, Monbiot shares a solution the world has been waiting for. Despite having readily available alternatives to animal products on the market to make items like pancakes, many people continue to use animal ingredients such as cow’s milk and eggs. Perhaps bacteria that has been grown and harvested could be the answer to the future of pancakes and beyond.
Monbiot explains that with this bacteria, you can have something that tastes very much like chicken, without involving the chickens. He explains how the bacteria can be selected or gene-edited to produce any of the proteins that people get from eating animals since it’s the same molecules but they are created a different way. By growing protein like this, it uses less land than soya and way less land than is used for cows that are killed for their meat. These innovative ideas could revolutionize farming and the future of animal agriculture and make it a thing of the past.
“What this means is we could produce all the protein required by 10 billion people in an area the size of Greater London.” – George Monbiot
The ideas in Regenesis have the potential to create a worldwide shift and save our planet.
“As meat is challenged by plant proteins, then plant proteins are challenged by microbial proteins, and as farmfree products become cheaper, better, and healthier than the foods with which they compete, the existence of good alternatives will sharpen our growing disquiet with the treatment of livestock, the destruction of our life-support systems, and the pandemics caused by animal farming. Why should we eat the products of this cruel, dangers, ecocidal system when we no longer need to?” (Regenesis, page 198)
Join George Monbiot in signing the Plant Based Treaty here.
How you can help:
- Get yourself a copy of Regenesis to learn why we need to leave animals off our plates. Read it and pass it on!
- Read and share the Plant Based Treaty position papers, which have been inspired by the work of George Monbiot.
- Download your free vegan action starter kit to get started with a plant-based diet.
- Sign the Plant Based Treaty. Your signature will help put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty as a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement. The treaty calls for system changes such as an end to the expansion of animal agriculture, the redirection of subsidies and public information campaigns, and restoration and reforestation on land and sea.