I’m Karthik Sekar. I’m currently working as a scientist, and I am a trained biochemical engineer. I consider animal welfare as one of our (humanity’s) most pressing concerns.
I fully acknowledge that not everyone appreciates the moral and environmental arguments for moving away from animal products. However, on this blog, I will focus on an entirely separate but underappreciated angle: Animals are a fundamentally terrible technology. They grow slowly, require vast resources, and will be disrupted by innovations catalyzed by the right science. In the same way Netflix eviscerated Blockbuster, better animal-free alternatives will leave the livestock industry behind to history books. Therefore, the pioneers of the superseding technology will profit handsomely. Forward-looking governments and organizations will seem brilliant for acting earlier.
My sense from personal conversations and internet chatter is nearly everyone loves the idea of technological innovation in moving away from animal products. Specifically, humanity should generate better animal-free products that reproduce the meat taste and nutrition better. For example, in vitro meat, or growing meat from animal stem cells in a bioreactor, appeals broadly and enthusiastically. In vitro meat is trying to reproduce meat more efficiently and without the animal. Truthfully, I appreciate that companies such as Memphis Meat spearhead this technology, but we shouldn’t be satisfied. We’re not considering the unexplored possibility space beyond and around. Suppose we went back to the 19th century as inventors, and we are tasked to develop technology to replace oxen for plowing. Would we develop a robotic ox? In the end, that idea was obviously impractical. Instead, a completely orthogonal design in the tractor obviated the need for oxen. We need a large portfolio of research into replacing animal products. Many designs and approaches will certainly fail. Therefore, we should hedge our risk and invest into as many avenues possible as we do in the renewable energy industry.
Initially, I had planned to write a book. However, I do not have the time nor energy currently, and I would not finish in a helpful timeline. Therefore, I will relay many key ideas both on this blog and potentially in podcasts/videos in the future.
I plan to discuss many of the above notions more deeply. Specific topics on the horizon:
- Animals by the numbers. Why animals are a fundamentally pathetic technology?
- The economics of animal production. The potential gains of replacing animal products.
- What do we know about animal-based products? What could we research to catalyze the transition to animal-free analogs?
- What do we know about protein-based health and metabolism? What do we know about the nutrition of meat and animal products?
- Why aren’t there more animal-free innovations on the horizon? What can we do to generate more ideas?
I will certainly use my scientific background and research as much as possible. Nonetheless, many ideas I proffer will be wrong and should be refined or even repudiated. Please engage with me if you find such problems.
Thanks for reading,