38 episodes

Future Perfect explores provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. We tackle big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty to create a more perfect future.
In season 3, we explore how the meat we eat affects us all. In eight episodes, Vox's Dylan Matthews and Sigal Samuel examine how the way we eat is shaping animal lives, human lives, and the future of our planet. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network. 

Future Perfect Vox

    • Philosophy
    • 4.6 • 552 Ratings

Future Perfect explores provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. We tackle big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty to create a more perfect future.
In season 3, we explore how the meat we eat affects us all. In eight episodes, Vox's Dylan Matthews and Sigal Samuel examine how the way we eat is shaping animal lives, human lives, and the future of our planet. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network. 

    Rethinking meat

    Rethinking meat

    How can we convince people to change their relationship with meat?
    Melanie Joy has been grappling with this question for a long time. To answer it, she takes us back to other points in history when new technology helped make social change palatable. She digs into how the invention of the washing machine and other household appliances, for example, helped make feminism easier to imagine.
    Then, she looks to the future, at our latest meat technologies — plant-based meat and lab grown meat — and asks: Could they make it easier for us to move away from meat altogether? 

    Further listening and reading: 


    Joy’s books, Powerarchy: Understanding the Psychology of Oppression for Social Transformation and Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. 

    Vox’s Ezra Klein interviewed Joy for an episode of The Ezra Klein Show in 2018. Hear that interview and read her book recommendations here.


    We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to futureperfect@vox.com. 

    Subscribe to Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.
    This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.

    Featuring:
    Melanie Joy (@DrMelanieJoy)

    Host:
    Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox 


    More to explore:

    Follow all of Future Perfect’s reporting on the Future of Meat.
    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.

    Follow Us:
    Vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 21 min
    Can we raise better beef?

    Can we raise better beef?

    Beef cattle take a huge toll on the environment. In Brazil, a huge chunk of greenhouse gas emissions comes from ranching alone. And a California-sized chunk of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down to provide land for these cattle to graze on.
    But one man, living on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, has a potential solution. In a series of small pilot projects run in his own small town, he’s demonstrated that he can work with ranchers to make their land healthier and more sustainable, so they don’t have to slash and burn more forest. He’s also shown that, by making the land greener and the cows healthier, he can dramatically reduce emissions from ranching.

    Further listening and reading: 

    Christina Selby’s story about Vando Telles’s company can be found at Scientific American.

    Vox video has an in-depth explainer on deforestation in the Amazon and on the invasion of indigenous land in Brazil.

    Vox video also has an explainer on why eating beef speeds up climate change.

    Vox’s Umair Irfan traveled to Brazil last year to report on deforestation and climate change.

    We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to futureperfect@vox.com. 
    Subscribe to Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.
    This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.

    Featuring:
    Christina Selby (@Christina Selby), freelance science reporter

    Host:
    Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox 

    More to explore:

    Follow all of Future Perfect’s reporting on the Future of Meat.
    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.

    Follow Us:
    Vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 24 min
    How to prevent a factory farmed pandemic

    How to prevent a factory farmed pandemic

    What if the next pandemic comes, not from wet markets overseas, but from our own factory farms? Martha Nelson, who studies viruses at the NIH, says we are playing Russian roulette with potentially dangerous influenza strains on our pig farms. 

    In this episode, we explain what makes these giant farms so likely to breed the next pandemic virus — and spread that virus into the world. And then, we look at solutions — from creating a virus-resistant pig, to developing a universal vaccine, to changing the systems we have for raising meat itself.


    Further listening and reading: 


    Sigal Samuel wrote an in-depth explainer on the pandemic risks of factory farms earlier this year. She’s also written about “wet markets.”


    The Vox video team also made an explainer video on the same subject. 

    For more on how viruses can spread in the pig population, Martha Nelson has an excellent paper “When Pigs Fly.”


    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations wrote a 2013 report on the health risks of factory farming.

    Sonia Shah’s book Pandemic is a great primer on how pandemic strains arise.

    We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to futureperfect@vox.com. 

    Subscribe to Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.
    This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.

    Featuring:
    Byrd Pinkerton (@byrdala), podcast producer, Vox
    Martha Nelson (@swientist), epidemiologist, National Institutes of Health
    Juergen Richt (@juergenricht), professor of veterinary medicine, Kansas State University

    Host:
    Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox 

    More to explore:

    Follow all of Future Perfect’s reporting on the Future of Meat.

    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.

    Follow Us:
    Vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 24 min
    These bacteria wear chicken shoes

    These bacteria wear chicken shoes

    Right now, we can fight off a wide range of bacterial infections using antibiotics. But those antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, and antibiotic use on factory farms is partially to blame. 
    In this episode, Lance Price and Cindy Liu, two public health researchers, explain that we give animals a steady dose of antibiotics in their feed, hoping to stave off disease in cramped, unsanitary conditions. But as a result, the bacteria in these animals develop resistance to antibiotics. But they have some suggestions for how we could make our antibiotics last.

    Further listening and reading: 


    Sigal Samuel has written in depth about the antibiotic risks posed by our factory farms.

    Liu and Price’s full study is worth a read, as is this Wired writeup of its findings.

    The episode mentions some of the work that Canada and Denmark have done to combat this resistance problem.

    It also digs into the use of the antibiotic Colistin in Chinese farms, and the subsequent spread of resistance.


    We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to futureperfect@vox.com. 
    Subscribe to Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.
    This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.

    Featuring:
    Byrd Pinkerton (@byrdala), podcast producer, Vox
    Martha Nelson (@swientist), epidemiologist, National Institutes of Health
    Juergen Richt (@juergenricht), professor of veterinary medicine, Kansas State University

    Host:
    Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox 
    More to explore:
    Follow all of Future Perfect’s reporting on the Future of Meat.
    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 23 min
    Life on the fast line

    Life on the fast line

    Workers in meatpacking plants already process our pigs and beef and chickens extremely fast, but recently, there’s been a push to make the meatpacking factory line move even faster. 
    Isaac Arnsdorf, a ProPublica reporter, takes us deep into his reporting on why that would be extremely dangerous for workers’ health. Then Jill Mauer, a federal meat inspector, explains why she’s worried that the changes in inspections necessary to make these faster line speeds possible could endanger us all.

    Further listening and reading: 

    We based the first half of this episode on reporting in Isaac Arnsdorf’s ProPublica piece on changing line speeds.

    For more on changing line speeds, there are great background pieces from the New York Times’s Julie Creswell and the Washington Post’s Kimberly Kindi.


    Jill’s full NBC interview, which we excerpted in the episode

    The Food Integrity Campaign within the Government Accountability Project pulled together this report with affidavits from federal inspectors in pilot plants.


    We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to futureperfect@vox.com. 
    Subscribe to Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.
    This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.

    Featuring:
    Isaac Arnsdorf (@iarnsdorf), reporter, ProPublica
    Host:
    Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), senior correspondent, Vox 
    More to explore:
    Follow all of Future Perfect’s reporting on the Future of Meat.
    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 25 min
    Chicken Big

    Chicken Big

    In 1992, Craig Watts got into growing chickens for Perdue Farms because he was told he could turn a good profit. Instead, he found himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and unable to bargain for better working conditions because Perdue was the only game in town. Things seemed hopeless, until, in 2010, President Obama’s Department of Justice announced that they were going to look into the relationship between big poultry companies and their growers. 

    In this episode, reporter Leah Douglas tells us how farmers like Craig fought to change the balance of power in chicken growing a decade ago — and what has happened since.

    Further listening and reading: 


    In his book The Meat Racket, Christopher Leonard outlines the problems with contract poultry growing in much more depth, and goes into the history of the practice.

    Leah Douglas and Christopher Leonard also did a recent, in-depth investigation into problems with the US chicken industry’s treatment of farmers.

    You can watch the Department of Justice public workshops for yourself, or read transcripts, all available here.

    The National Chicken Council has compiled an FAQ that pushes back on claims that poultry growers have problems.

    We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to futureperfect@vox.com. 

    Subscribe to Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.
    This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.

    Featuring:
    Byrd Pinkerton (@byrdala), podcast producer, Vox
    Leah Douglas (@leahjdouglas), reporter, Food and Environment Reporting Network

    Host:
    Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), senior correspondent, Vox 

    More to explore:

    Follow all of Future Perfect’s reporting on the Future of Meat.

    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.

    Follow Us:
    Vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
552 Ratings

552 Ratings

Viveca1 ,

Great podcast! A must-listen on topics that matter.

Byrd Pinkerton, Sigal Samuel, and Dylan Mathews are enormously talented producers and storytellers — exceptionally well researched, thoughtful, captivating, funny, and often profound. I look forward to these episodes, have learned a lot by listening, and recommend subscribing to everyone. A must-listen.

jtobin22 ,

Worth a Listen!

One of the few podcasts that cover important things, presently relevant things, but does not get sucked into the stress of the news cycle. I really appreciate Future Perfect, especially season 3!

Nadia Many Words ,

More to it

Factory farming needs reforming but this series has chosen to separate it from the growing research on the negative effects of grains and sugar on humans in the form of obesity and diabetes that are epidemic now. I suggest a series on the ketogenic diet and also on regenerative agriculture. The role of herbivores in ecology and their role in feeding humans will provide interesting information that should not be disregarded.

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