Bruce Friedrich, 46, is the executive director of the Good Food Institute and managing trustee of New Crop Capital, which both promote restructuring the meat industry away from animal slaughter. He lives in Washington.
Would you call yourself an activist?
Yes. Well ...
Is there another term you would use?
I’m a nonprofit executive. And a venture capitalist. New Crop Capital is focused on finding the companies that we believe will be maximally transformative, away from animal agriculture and toward plant-based and clean alternatives.
Are all of the companies you focus on in the creating, like in the lab?
We have invested in a few companies that are focused on meat and collagen that are cultured. At commercialization it will look like a beer brewery, but it will be for meat. So a meat brewery.
You refer to it as meat? You don’t use quotation marks or anything?
It’s meat. It’s the exact same thing, just grown in a different way. It’s cleaner, safer, transparent. There are tens of millions of illnesses from contaminated meat annually, thousands of people die. All of that goes away. At scale, it will be cheaper than beef, because it’s so much more efficient.
How’d you get here?
I ran a homeless shelter in D.C. as part of the Catholic Worker movement for six years. I came when I was 20. Mitch Snyder [at] the Community for Creative Non-Violence just opened my eyes. I knew about global poverty, but I didn’t really have the sense of what to do about it. And Mitch said, “This is an urgent situation — all of you need to join in the struggle to make things better for the poor.” And that really spoke to me. So I came to Washington, D.C., and he killed himself that summer , before I got there.
Do you consider your work now helping global hunger as well?
The Good Food Institute attempts to take ethics off the table for consumers. This is a solution to the end of the antibiotics era. This is a solution to climate change. The solution to global poverty. It seems to us that the likely solution is to just make the default choice that climate-friendly choice.
Because relying on people’s ethics is …
It’s a lot to ask.
I Googled you. You streaked the queen [for PETA]!
I had GoVeg.com written on my body. The Times of London reported “it is not known whether her majesty was forced to avert her eyes.” That is very close to a direct quote.
You’re much more committed than most people are to causes they think are good.
And there’s a degree to which that’s alienating, right? We’re trying to normalize what we’re doing and relate to people in a way that is not making people feel bad for the choices they’re making.
So you’d rather be perceived as not an activist.
You’re not an activist.
I’m a nonprofit executive.
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