Will microbial protein replace meat on the table?

Ethiopian traditional food made from meat (Kiteffo)

In order to address global warming and the inefficiencies of animal production, a diet of a microbial derived protein could be on the menu, according to Professor Willy Verstraete from the University of Ghent.

Professor Verstraete put forward this choice in a lecture centered on futurism, delivered to the annual Pharmaceutical Microbiology Interest Group (Pharmig) conference which took place in Oxfordshire at the end of November, 2017.
The lecture was titled “What ‘Innovative Eco-Microbiology’ has Potential for the Needs of the Next Decade?”, and it examined design, operation and control of processes mediated by mixed microbial cultures. This led into innovative designs for drinking water production plants (slow sand filtration); aerobic wastewater treatment (based on nitrification-denitrification); and bioremediation processes of soils and sediments.

However it was discussions around ‘ProMic’ (a derivation of ‘protein microbiology’) that sparked the greatest interest from the audience. Alternatives are needed, according to the researcher, to address the environmental impact of meat production. These disrupters take the form of pollution through fossil fuel usage, animal methane, effluent waste, and water and land consumption.
As Professor Verstraete sums up the situation: “We need to address the issues facing our planet, the inefficiencies of meat production, the extent of fossil fuel use, the economic inefficiencies.” Some of the environmental concerns are outlined in the following video excerpt:

ProMic is microbially derived and rich in protein. It begins with a developed microbiome (a microbial community) which is placed into a bioreactor (which undertakes the microbial bioconversion). By running controlled conditions, this produces a microbial protein. Read more