I want to take a step back, and question the very posing of the problem by the Prize organizers. Half to most of the question is answered, without any deliberation or thought, by simply unilaterally declaring the problem to be one of devising plant based manufactured alternatives to meat, white or otherwise.
I cannot see how devising white meat alternatives is the first, or third or eighth, priority. What is the thinking behind it?
We have [a) known solution](http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-46590-1%22%5Da, that has been shown to simultaneously lower drastically resource use by food while enhancing quite dramatically the intake of known protective nutrients while reducing markedly intake of nutrients with adverse effects. That solution is: eat plants. my colleagues and I have shown that in the above linked paper and too many earlier ones to recount here, as have others.
To that, most objections focus on palatability. Something like “raise your hands if you want to eat buckwheat”, or the like. This appears like a nice rhetorical move, until you stop and think about it.
People flock to Middle Eastern restaurants, and most of what you get there is, well, plants. People likewise love Indian, and much of it is based on lentils. People love Vietnamese food, and much of it is soba, basil, cilantro, and lime. People love Chinese, and real Chinese is by and large plants.
So the axiom that people are unable to eat plants and therefore require a manufactured alternative is a false one. Sadly, it sits at the very foundation of the Prize: people can’t and never will eat plants, and therefore tech must devise meat-like stuff. Has this been demonstrated rigorously? No. Has it been deliberated? No. Has it been contrasted with viable alternatives? No. The whole thing is a logical house of cards that withstand no scrutiny.
To the organizers, I say: rethink from the ground up this competition, you stand to waste your resources in devising answers to the wrong question, that will waste ours. Worse, these answers will most likely squander whatever little bit of voluntary good will people may have toward reducing the environmental impacts of their diet.
Down the road, there may be some role meat alternatives will play. This may well be one arrow in our ultimate quiver. But we are so not there, that the rush to devise a competition under this banner is not only unhelpful, it may undermine existing efforts.
We need to first answer the broader question: What is it that make people eat as much meat as they do? Given that they obviously do love plant, as the above ethnic cuisine examples demonstrate, why is there so much resistance to the obvious idea that we can either perpetuate our current diet and keep our resource use needlessly high, or we can reduce our environmental impacts by shifting our diet, but we cannot have both.
The solution will come from a collaboration between nutritionists and optimization guys like myself, guided—most importantly—by research psychologists explaining to us how people make dietary decisions, what prompts may impact those decisions, and—very importantly—what doesn’t stand a chance.