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NBSV 114


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 114

A technological argument against animal products with Dr. Karthik Sekar

Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No Bullshit Vegan podcast episode 114. Dr. Karthik Sekar is here to present a technological argument against animal products, how that relates to the horrendous environmental and ethical impacts of animal agriculture, and the future of food, including how plant-based replacements will exceed conventional animal-based products in every way: taste, cost, and nutrition, on top of the ethical and environmental benefits, of course. So let's dive in.

Hey, thanks for joining me today. I'm Karina your go-to, no BS, vegan fitness and nutrition coach. On the show today is Dr. Karthik Sekar. Karthik completed his doctorate in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. He followed with post-doctoral research in systems and quantitative biology at ETH Zurich. Karthik currently works in the alternative food space as a data scientist in the San Francisco Bay area. He's long been passionate about helping humanity move past animal products, and he recently released a science and technology non-fiction book, “After Meat” to explain the technological limits of using animals for production, why we'll do better, and why we'll move on. 100% of the profits from his book will go to these charities: The Good Food Institute, Animal Charity Evaluators Recommended Charity Fund, Effective Altruism’s Animal Welfare Fund, and Faunalytics. Digital versions of the book are pay-what-you-want, including nothing, by the way.

Karthik says, “this project is about getting the world excited about the shift away from animal agriculture.” Karthik’s favourite vegan meal is a hefty mezze plate: hummus, falafel, tabouleh, pickled vegetables - Sign me up! That sounds perfect. Here's our discussion.

Hey Karthik, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.

Karthik Sekar: Thanks for having me, Karina.

Karina Inkster: I'm excited. We have so much to get into. But can you first start by giving me and our listeners a little rundown of who you are and what you do? I know that's a loaded question, but go for it, haha.

Karthik Sekar: Sure, sure. So I'm Karthik. I'm a scientist by training. I did a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. I also did a post-doctoral stint at ETH Zurich in systems biology and quantitative biology. And I'm vegan. I've been long motivated by the transition away from animal products, and towards the end of my post-doc, I became really fascinated with the idea of innovating our way beyond animal products. And to that end, I wrote a proposal to try to do a better plant-based cheese that didn't pan out, but I was thankfully able to, you know, navigate my way to the Bay Area in California, where I am currently. And I work at a company startup called Climax Foods. And I now work as a data scientist helping us find more, better, exciting alternatives to animal products.

Karina Inkster: Ooh! Which is exactly what we're talking about today. There's a piece of your book in the introduction that I wanted to just quote as kind of like a setting the stage thing for our listeners. By the way, if folks are watching the video, I just got your book in the mail, although I have been reading the PDF version. So I did do my homework, haha. But it's amazing and congrats on this major project.

Karthik Sekar: Thank you.

Karina Inkster: And so from the introduction, you said, “Simply put, raising animals for consumption is an awful technology. All indications suggest that the future of food will ultimately be tastier, healthier, cheaper, kinder, and better for the environment. This will happen because we won't use animal products.” And that last piece is the most interesting to me. It's not gonna happen despite not using animal products, it's gonna happen because we won't use animal products. So we've got a lot to unpack. Why don't we start with the technological argument against animal products? So like what is the deal? Why are animal products actually not great ‘bioreactors,' if you will - that's a word that you use. Why don't we start there as a kind of like, what's wrong with the situation? And then we can go into well, what are we gonna do in the future?

Karthik Sekar: Yeah, so if we think about a cow, a cow as a bioreactor, you know, to use that word, to make products that humanity uses. So these products are pretty obvious: meat, dairy, clothing. And we actually evaluate the cow bioreactor in terms of traditional chemical engineering process metrics. We find that it's a pretty terribly performing bioreactor. So a cow takes at least nine months to grow from infancy to full adulthood. So a cow is very slow. That's one aspect. The other aspect is a cow will waste quote-unquote 90% of what she's fed. And this is terrible. And so I argue that with alternatives, such as mainly microbial fermentation, that we can do way better in terms of the metrics and really getting to products that exceed anything that was possible with using animal products, animal-based products.

Karina Inkster: Mm-Hmm. Interesting. So you're looking at, and I assume other animals are very similar here in so-called wastage, you're looking at this from a kind of technological standpoint versus any sort of ethics. And I mean, the environment is part of it as well, but this is purely like a resource-based calculation, isn't it?

Karthik Sekar: Exactly. That’s exactly right. So I see it more as if we look at the fundamental physics and biology of animals, there is only so much we can do. And this is explained in the book, “After Meat.” Really, we can do so much better in terms of resource efficiency with alternatives; plant-based and microbial fermentation.

Karina Inkster: Aha. You just reminded me I totally did not list the title of your book, “After Meat, The Case for an Amazing Meat-Free World.” Thank you for sending it by the way. Cannot wait to read it in full. I have started the PDF version, but I kind of like having the hard copy, so much appreciated. So this is a book that just came out. Is that right? It's pretty new?

Karthik Sekar: That's correct. Just came out a month ago. And the audiobook is releasing within the next week.

Karina Inkster: Oh, exciting. That's awesome. Are you the one reading it?

Karthik Sekar: No, I hired a narrator.

Karina Inkster: Haha, good call. Good call. That's awesome. Okay. So we're talking about animals essentially as so-called bioreactors and purely from a resource standpoint, they're not doing so well in what do you call it? Return on investment? Like what's the right term?

Karthik Sekar: Yeah, I would say process efficiency is the way I would couch it as a chemical engineer.

Karina Inkster: Okay. Process efficiency. Interesting.

Karthik Sekar: Yes.

Karina Inkster: So are all animals kind of similar? Are cows especially bad in the process efficiency department?

Karthik Sekar: Yes. So cows are objectively bad and egregiously bad, but these same sorts of features also extend to other animals such as chickens, even fish. And so digging into the details here, animals have to grow fairly large, right? And because they have to grow fairly large, they need these very intricate circulation systems in order to purvey nutrients around their body, as well as to be able to shuttle waste to exits. And so for organisms where you need a circulation system, this can actually be a fairly costly feature because the circulation system itself requires resources. We need a heart to pump it. You need to build all the vascularization, et cetera. So that's one aspect of why animals are so inefficient production machines.

The other aspect is animals are super generalists. So if we think about a cow, a cow has to be able to do many, many things. She has to be able to detect friend or foe. She has to see if a place is suitable to sleep. She has to breathe. She has to walk around. And so for each of these features, you can kind of think of it as the cleaning away from the process efficiency of making the meat or the dairy. And in contrast, you look at something like microbial for fermentation where you're making products in say microbes, you don't actually have all these baggages. So microbials, microbes are small. They don't need these intricate circulation systems. They don't need this costly circulation system for the more they're super-specialists. They can't actually do much more than just eat and make more of themselves. So they're not having to do these complex functions of looking at and seeing what's around them.

So as a result, the same sort of process efficiency metrics are just much, much bigger with microbes. And one thing I do wanna emphasize, it does sound like the technological aspect is fairly divorced from the ethical and environmental. And I also wanna emphasize that they are actually related. So one of the reasons why animal agriculture is so calamitous for the environment is because it's so inefficient.

Karina Inkster: Right. That makes sense.

Karthik Sekar: So you know, to explain that, consider that, more than 30% of the ice-free land on planet earth is used for animal agriculture or feeds animal agriculture.

Karina Inkster: Mm-hmm.

Karthik Sekar: And the reason why it’s so much land is because animal ag is just so slow. Like it takes that nine months to you know, rear a cow. And if you shorten that time, that’s the same amount of land in terms of fraction you need. So you shorten it to one month, that means you need one-ninth of the land that you use for cows. And when you compare that to microbes, microbes grow about a thousand to 10,000 times faster compared to cows.

Karina Inkster: Wow.

Karthik Sekar: And so you can kind of think about the difference in terms of the amount of land that you would actually need for a cow-based process to a microbial-based one.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. So is this lack of efficiency, if you will, the main reason why animal agriculture is so horrendous for our environment?

Karthik Sekar: Yes, I think so. So animal agriculture is one: responsible for a lot of emissions. So around 18 to 19% of emissions, CO2 emissions, are due to animal agriculture. So when a cow is eating food, she's running, she's playing, she's doing all these what are called maintenance functions. And I explain a lot in “After Meat” about this, and this is all energy-intensive processes. And when that occurs, you basically do what's effectively combustion. And when you do combustion, you release CO2. So you can kind of think of CO2 as basically being the energy maintenance requirement for animal agriculture. And then when it comes to land usage, the amount of land that animal agriculture takes up actually makes it really hard for us to sequester and do the other side of the CO2 emissions.

So right now, deforestation in the Amazon, the number one reason that occurs is because of animal agriculture. And I've seen some pretty striking numbers for a world without animal agriculture, where we're able to revitalize forests. So in a future where we free up this, some of this 30% of the land for earth, we could revitalize forests and we would actually be able to hit this 1.5 Celsius limit that's been talked about for 2100 as being like the best we can do in terms of curbing climate change. So to sum all that up, if we got rid of animal agriculture, freed up the land, it'd be one of the easiest ways for us to hit this 1.5 degree Celsius limit for curbing climate change.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. So a lot of folks have these environmental reasons and maybe they're a little nebulous, but they know that the environment is part of the deal. They have these environmental reasons for either going completely plant-based or decreasing their consumption of animal products, but I'm not sure that there's a lot of thought into this whole concept of like process efficiency and exactly why this is so terrible for our environment. It's just kind of like this basic understanding, like, oh yeah. Well, animal agriculture is horrible for our environment for some nondescript unknown reason.

Karthik Sekar: Yes.

Karina Inkster: But what you're doing is you're basically putting your finger on exactly why and explaining, okay, here's why animal agriculture is so terrible for the environment. Here is what things could look like if we had less or no animal agriculture.

Karthik Sekar: Absolutely. Yes.

Karina Inkster: Which is very different from just like listing all the reasons why animal agriculture is shitty for our environment, cuz it is.

Karthik Sekar: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that's a great way to state it. We can hear the numbers until we're numb, but the explanation for why is in some ways more powerful, right? If we have that basal understanding for just what makes it so inefficient and maybe an example here might help. So, you imagine that if you had a car powered by burning wood, it would be very intuitive to see why that would not be an environmentally friendly process, right? Like, you're gaining a lot of char, it’s just gonna be very inefficient. You're just not gonna get that much energy out of that wood. And in the same sort of way we need that sort of physical intuition for why animals are so inefficient and calamitous for the environment and that's what I'm trying to do with “After Meat."

Karina Inkster: Right. Yep. That makes total sense. So even with all of these very horrendous things like growth hormones and steroids and whatnot, you're saying across the board, whether it's a so-called organic farm, which is still problematic, as people know who listen to our show, or like a full-scale commercial, large scale operation, are there really differences in efficiency there? Or is it kind of the same across the board regardless?

Karthik Sekar: It's kind of the same across. You're not gonna see the big difference of going from animal agriculture to say plant-based or to microbial from cage-based. Like that's a huge change. And you bring up a good point and very topically regenerative animal agriculture has been making waves in the news. One thing to understand here is there's only so much better you can do. So even with all these hormones, with factory farms in terms of concentrated animals, there's only so far you could get with animals. So there's what's called, what I call, a ceiling with the technology where you really can't do better than this. And the only thing you can do is just say, all right, we have to switch over to an alternative and we'll do better with an alternative and the case of animal agriculture that's gonna be plant-based or fermentation-based.

Karina Inkster: Mm-hmm that makes sense. Well, I wanna go into what this might look like; options for the future, maybe some examples. But first, can you tell our listeners a little bit more about the book itself and kind of what the purpose is? What's the deal with “After Meat?”

Karthik Sekar: Yes. Yes. So the deal with “After Meat” is I'm taking a view on the technological problems of animal agriculture, and I'm really explaining why animal agriculture is irredeemable. So we really just need to give it up and move beyond it. And I take a very first principle scientific approach where I'm looking at the physics, the biology, how we produce new innovations, new technologies, you know, stringing all these different topics together to argue basically we have to just move on. And as you led with the show, what it also means is that we're also gonna get the benefits in terms of taste, nutrition, and cost. So it really is gonna be a win-win. You know, we talk a lot about doing this transition for ethical, environmental reasons, but there's also these very taste nutrition and cost aspects as well.

Karina Inkster: Mm-Hmm. So how does that work? So the nutrition, I mean I think we can all understand that, right? We're gonna get micronutrients. Generally, plant-based foods, if they're whole food-focused, for the most part, are more nutrient-dense than animal products. What about the taste and the cost functions? I'm kind of curious about those two, cause right now buying a like Beyond burger is way more expensive than buying a ground beef patty.

Karthik Sekar: Yes. Yes. I'm glad you asked. So I'll start with the cost aspect first. So, I've been talking about how inefficient animals are and explained it in terms of like the circulations systems and the fact that they're doing so many things. And so all those aspects are actually costing us in the final dollar amounts as well. So it's not just some sort of like time cost or whatever that we're paying. It's actually, factored into the dollar cost as well. So that means you get the same sort of performance increase in all those metrics. You reduce the cost concomitantly.

And in terms of taste, taste is where I think the big scientific innovation is needed, right? So taste is really a function of molecules that are in our food. So there's the basic tastes, such sweet, salty, sour, what we taste on our tongues. And then there's the complex flavours that we experience in our retronasal cavity, in our orthonasal cavity. But what underlies all this, are specific compounds. So, for example, in the case of cheese, it's this butyric acid compound, which gives it its barn-yardy flavour. Butyric acid is not a compound that's only monopolized to animal products. There are plant-based and microbial-based sources for butyric acid. And so figuring out how we produce these compounds is definitely a challenge, but I argue that it's very, very tractable and it’s something that's really just more of a scientific innovation limitation than anything else.

Karina Inkster: Hmm. That's an interesting perspective. I mean, even in the past two to five years, we've seen all sorts of innovations in texture and taste in plant-based products, kind of more in the faux-animal product realm, like the cheese and the, you know, the burgers and the sausages and whatnot. But it's kind of interesting to see it as like a scientific lab issue almost.

Karthik Sekar: Yes, yes! So Impossible Foods, for example, as your audience might be well aware of, they spent a lot of money trying to make their burgers as reproducible to a beef burger as possible. I believe they even hired neuroscientists to make sure that people actually have the same sort of conscious experience eating their burgers as anyone else. And on top of that, they're investing a lot into expensive mass spectrometers to actually measure the compounds and actually see that what they're seeing in their burgers is directly replicating what's in a beef burger. And I do wanna actually talk about the fact that I actually don't like the strategy of trying to reproduce a beef burger, one to one.

So in my view, the way this transition's going to occur is through a drowning out. So what I mean by that is if you take a step back and you look at how we've replaced animals in other domains, so you think about transportation. Until the advent of engines and steam engines and any of that, the main way that we moved large, heavy objects on land was using animals, right? So animals were our means for last-mile transport. And what replaced the animals was not an animatronic robotic horse, right?

Karina Inkster: Good point.

Karthik Sekar: We didn’t do that. And even today, to do that would be really, really hard. What it was, was things of very different designs. So it was a car, it was an automobile, it was motorcycles, you know, things like that. And I see a very similar corollary with food where we're spending so much effort trying to reproduce things, but really, there's probably this whole new world of flavours, of textures, and it's actually gonna be easier to explore. And I argue this - I’m not sure if you're there yet Karina on chapter eight - that you know, it's actually gonna be easier to do this without looking at animal products and we're gonna be able to create these like new, wondrous foods that just weren't possible before.

Karina Inkster: Hmm. Well, that's a really cool concept. Cause I think at this point we're stuck in duplication mode where it's like, well, if more people have the option to have their burgers and their melted cheese and their whatnot - I mean, there's truth to that, right? Like a lot of these foods are what I call transition foods. If you're just coming to veganism for the first time and you wanna have the same exact stuff that you're eating, but just plant-based, I get that. But you're saying there's a whole other world out there that's probably neglected at this point based on how much energy and how many resources are going into pure duplication.

Karthik Sekar: Precisely. Yes. And for the people here who are a little wary about what I'm saying here, I also wanna say like our world of food right now is actually kind of indicative of this as well. So, I'm of Indian descent. My parents hail from India and I grew up on south Indian food and south Indian food uses a lot of tomatoes, uses a lot of peppers, right? And tomatoes and peppers weren't actually really used in India until probably at least the 15th, 16th century, right? You know, because these are all new world foods, right? So tomatoes were actually discovered when, or quote-unquote discovered, in I guess in the global sense, when European explorers came to the Americas, right?

And even initially they were regarded wearily because tomatoes looked a lot like Belladonna, a very poisonous nightshade. And so people were actually afraid to eat them initially. So things like Indian food, Italian food, the tomato-based Italian food, are actually fairly new creations. We’re talking about within the last hundreds of years, right? And this is actually not just cuisine. This is also even like plant-based foods. So you think about brussel sprouts. Karina, you might remember, but like 20 years ago, like people hated brussel sprouts. They thought they were gross and bitter and it was actually a Dutch breeder just spent a lot of time cross-breeding to try to get to something less bitter. And eventually hit a cultivar that was just much more delectable. And so what you see in the supermarket today, or in a restaurant today, it just wasn't even available to us 30 years ago.

Karina Inkster: Well, that's a great point. That reminds me of another point you have in the book, which is this whole concept of ‘natural’. And man, we could do an entire podcast episode just on this.

Karthik Sekar: Yeah.

Karina Inkster: But you made the point that vegans and vegetarians to some degree, I'm sure, are often conflated with this kind of like super, all-natural attitude or like their advocates of just eating, and I'm using air quotes here, “all-natural foods,” which I guess is true because a lot of vegans and vegetarians generally think about what they're eating more than people who are not vegan and vegetarian, but what's the deal here? I mean, these are some great examples. Like the brussel sprout example is kind of in line with this, right? So we have no definition of what ‘natural' even is in the first place. There's no umbrella definition of what that means.

Karthik Sekar: Yes.

Karina Inkster: But I think some of these items that we were talking about before, you know, creating food in a lab with input from neuroscientists and thinking about the exact compounds in foods that make them taste a certain way - that creeps some people out, which is understandable because it's not how we're used to seeing our food. But what does it even really mean to be ‘natural’? Why is that a fallacy?

Karthik Sekar: Yes. It's a fallacy in many ways. So the first aspect is as you alluded to what is ‘natural’, right? So I use an example of the banana, which over many, many generations looks much different than its progenitor did, vastly so. Like you put 'em side by side and you might not even be able to recognize the two or, you know?

Karina Inkster: Yeah. I saw your diagram in the book and it's like, whoa, that looks like something completely different.

Karthik Sekar: Right. Looks alien. And so that’s the first aspect. So we don't even have a precise definition of what constitutes ‘natural’. The other aspect is, I argue, it's not a helpful adjective. So you think about, if you go into like a, a forest, right? And technically everything in a forest is natural, right? But we know it's a bad idea to just like eat anything, right? You know, you're not gonna just pick up mushrooms off of the ground unless you know and have good confidence that they're not poisonous, right? So what we actually have in the supermarket and what food marketers actually use as quote-unquote, ‘natural’ is, it's just a very fluid, nebulous concept, right? And I think it actually gets in the way of more precise, helpful things. So, you know, plants, we can say plants are actually very nutritious because of the vitamins, because they have a ton of fibre, they're rich in minerals and amino acids. And those to me are the important qualities. Not because plants are quote-unquote, ‘natural’.

Karina Inkster: Mm. That makes sense. So a lot of these things that are being created in supposedly unnatural ways may actually from a health standpoint be more beneficial.

Karthik Sekar: Absolutely. Yes.

Karina Inkster: Hmm.

Karthik Sekar: Yes. I do have an example of protein availability for an older adult. So older adults have a harder time with digesting food, so something that's really tricky in terms of structure might not actually be that nutritious for an older adult. But with say like a 3D food printer, we could precisely construct something that is actually perfect for their digestibility, so that they're actually able to reap more nutrients that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

Karina Inkster: Well, that's an interesting point. Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s kind of transition into what the whole food industry and agriculture and the environment might look like. You know, the future of food, essentially, if we were to completely replace animal products.

Karthik Sekar: Yes.

Karina Inkster: If we were to just, you know, overshadow them completely.

Karthik Sekar: Yes.

Karina Inkster: So you've mentioned things like taste and cost, and nutrition we just talked about. What else can we kind of cover in the future of food?

Karthik Sekar: Sure. I guess we can talk about what those technologies might look like. What a, maybe like what a meal would be, like how it would be. And I guess I do wanna pause and give the caveat that I don't think like plant-based foods are going away anytime soon. Like I think things like salads, I think things like lentils, beans, all that, there’s a ton of value in that. And you know Karina, I know you mentioned earlier about seeing these as transition foods and in full honesty, I'm not sure I agree completely. So, you know, the plant-based aspect I think is gonna remain. I think the biggest changes we're gonna see, more in short term, is replacing the ultra-processed meat foods.

So this is like your McDonald's quarter pounder, your Burger King Whopper. So those things I think will actually be fairly easily replaceable, with like microbial fermentation or a similar process. And then, further down the line, you know, things like cheese, things like steaks, I think will be replaced. So these are more intricate structures. Things that are harder to replace one to one. And then you know, I'm really excited to see about like the novel foods that we were discussing earlier and I give some examples of some possibilities here. You can think about a hybrid of like a cheese and like a steak, something that like crisps on like a griddle and has like a caramel skin, but then like has like a more meaty texture. And yeah, the possibilities I think are really endless. An, it would be hard for me to really just pontificate on you know, on various ideas.

Karina Inkster: Right. Well, some haven't even been invented yet, so we don't know what things are gonna look like in even five years, most likely.

Karthik Sekar: Exactly. Yes.

Karina Inkster: Which is kind of exciting when you think about it. How much or how many resources are going into work like this? I mean, is this actually like a legit industry at this point?

Karthik Sekar: Yeah. So you're asking if like let’s say a college student was thinking about what they want to do after they graduate? Yes. This industry is not going away anytime soon. If anything, I expect it to get bigger and bigger. I do think that in terms of the private sector, things are going pretty well. You know, for example, venture capital funding seems to be readily available. Venture capitalists are very excited. What unfortunately has been lacking, has been efforts on the academic side. So you don't see academic departments, especially like food science academic departments, really dedicating enough resources to moving humanity beyond animal products. You know, it's a shame. In fact, you're more likely to see how they can turn corn into packaging, right?

Karina Inkster: Right, of course.

Karthik Sekar: It's honestly fairly depressing, the actual academic research that gets done in the food science world. And this is not an inditement on those professors or scientists. It’s really just a funding reality. These professors are chasing what is available in terms of funding. Either that's collaborations with the industry or what they can get from the governments. And so really what I would love to see is more funding availability for just academic research on these problems. So I would love for the Gates Foundation to come in and say, we want people to spend some time characterizing how cheese, why cheese is the way it is, right? We haven't seen this. We need the National Science Foundation, US Science Funding Agency, to come in and say, all right, we need to figure out how we can do animal-based or animal-like fats, microbially. Like, how can we produce fats that are like what we can get from animals, but using microbial fermentation?

Karina Inkster: Right. So is funding the main roadblock at this point from the academic standpoint?

Karthik Sekar: I would say from the academics yes. I would say funding is probably the biggest bottleneck in the academic standpoint.

Karina Inkster: Well hopefully that changes within the next couple of years cuz there's a lot of potential here.

Karthik Sekar: 100%! And you know, one corollary here is with renewable energy, right? So we talked earlier about the environmental problems of animal agriculture and so probably for a lot of your audience the idea that governments should be funding renewable energy research should be obvious, right? We want just cleaner energy technology. And for the same arguments we should be doing the same for clean food, right?

Karina Inkster: Good point! Absolutely!

Karthik Sekar: And I would actually argue that just because of how destructive animal technology is environmentally, probably one of the most tractable solutions is replacing animal technology and just planting a bunch of trees. You don't have to invent some fancy device that scrubs CO2 out of the air. You can use trees. Trees already do that really, really well. You just have to make room. You just have to make room for them.

Karina Inkster: So why isn't there more of this kind of work? Is it like the general demand for animal products and the culture that we live in that just puts them front and centre? Like what's the deal?

Karthik Sekar: I think people haven't been thinking about this enough and in this kind of way, and this is, one of the reasons I was motivated to write After Meat; I want people to see this connection of animal technology to clean energy and the reasons that we do clean energy are the reasons we should move away from animal technology.

Karina Inkster: Hmm. Interesting. That makes sense. I haven't really thought about it in that parallel before. Like obviously we need funding for research into clean energy. I mean, I think for us who are already in the vegan world, yeah, of course, it's obvious that we need funding and research in the food aspect, you know, in the animal agriculture industry and what to replace it with. But I think a lot of folks maybe haven't thought about those parallels before, and that's pretty important.

Karthik Sekar: Precisely. Yes.

Karina Inkster: Mmm-hm. So hey, where can our listeners get their hands on After Meat? Yes.

Karthik Sekar: So any online retail, most online retailers. Amazon, you name it, should be able to have it available. If you're interested in just downloading the book without paying anything for it, you can do so at

Karina Inkster: Nice.

Karthik Sekar: There's a link on my website, and also the audio book is pay-what-you-want as well. So this is narrated by Laura Lefkow, a very capable and impressive narrator. Money was never an objective with this project, so all the proceeds are going to charity.

Karina Inkster: Amazing.

Karthik Sekar: And all the digital versions of this book are pay what you want.

Karina Inkster: Well, that's fricking amazing - nicely done with that! We'll also have show notes where folks can go and connect with you at your website and social and all that. But I just wanted to get an extra heads-up for the book itself. It’s an amazing piece of work. Congrats on the upcoming audio book as well. I'm sure that was quite a project. And Karthik, it was great speaking with you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Karthik Sekar: Thanks for having Karina.

Karina Inkster: Thanks again Karthik for joining me on the podcast. It was fantastic speaking with you. Head to our show notes at, to connect with Karthik and to get your hands on his incredible book. Also a heads up that January is always a very jam-packed month for me and my coaching team, but we do have available our last three spots for fitness and nutrition coaching. So you can check out our coaching programs at, and if you're interested in becoming a client, do make sure you submit your application as soon as possible. So that's Thanks so much for tuning into the podcast and here's to health, fitness, and bullshit busting in 2022.

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