Could pythons replace conventional livestock on our plates?

Snakes on a plate? We’ll have to see how consumers feel.

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Reticulated Python Snake
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Farmed python meat could be a healthy, efficient, environmentally friendly alternative to livestock and poultry, but will anyone actually eat it?

The case for snakes

A recent study published in Nature revealed that because snakes are more efficient at converting feed into weight gain than the animals currently used in food production. The lower feed conversion rate is likely due to the cold-blooded nature of reptiles.

Pythons are also high in protein, low in saturated fat and already widely consumed across Southeast Asia and China.

"However, while large-scale python farming is well established in Asia, it has received little attention from mainstream agricultural scientists," Dr. Daniel Natusch, study author and research fellow in the School of Natural Sciences at Macquarie University in Australia, said in a statement.

"Our study suggests python farming complementing existing livestock systems may offer a flexible and efficient response to global food insecurity."

The multi-institutional research team also included scientists from Oxford University, the University of Adelaide, Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand and the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in Hanoi.

Snake on a plate?

To be perfectly honest, I think snakes have a major hurdle to overcome become python farming replaces conventional livestock and poultry. Consumer acceptance.

One-third of Americans are afraid of snakes, according to a 2022 poll from online research data platform, YouGov. I doubt that the polling platform asked about eating snakes, but I bet there is a high percentage of people that would feel uncomfortable with that thought as well. Acceptance of another alternative protein, cultivated meat, has also been slow due to consumer fears.

Snakes have a certain ick factor that extends to other proposed alternative proteins. Not so long ago, a certain subset of consumers were ready to mutiny following a mistaken internet rumor that Tyson Foods was putting insects in their chicken nuggets.

I have a feeling livestock and poultry production is safe from this alternative protein.

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