Cultivating an Alternative Protein Forecasting Initiative

4 min readApr 22, 2021


Metaculus and the Good Food Institute Launch the Alternative Protein Tournament to Forecast the Global Transformation of Protein Production and Consumption

by Gaia Dempsey, CEO at Metaculus

Alt-Protein Forecasting Tournament, Launching April 22, 2021. Happy Earth Day!

Metaculus as an organization strives to combine the best aspects of scientific culture and applied innovation culture. We deeply respect and value insight derived from data, as well as that intuited by human judgement, and we continually seek to use one to inform the other toward ever-increasing degrees of insight accuracy.

We’re now excited beyond measure to be able to contribute these capabilities in the quest to solve global challenges.

Since 1970, communities have been celebrating Earth Day to raise environmental awareness and build a movement around climate-healthy solutions. Over the last five decades, the global community participating has grown to over a billion people.

At Metaculus, we’re celebrating with the launch of a new, two-year Alt-Protein Forecasting Tournament with our extraordinary nonprofit partner, the Good Food Institute.

This is housed within our first-ever Forecasting CauseFeeding Humanity, a community space for forecasters interested in the future of a global, healthy, ethical food ecosystem.

The Good Food Institute works internationally to develop and accelerate the roadmap for a sustainable global protein supply, and empowers partners across the food system to make alternative proteins accessible, affordable, and delicious.

Their theory of change boils down to three simple ideas:

  1. Meat production as it’s currently practiced will not be sustainable as the number of people grows to 10B over the next few decades.
  2. Consumers have strong preferences around the experience of meat, and changing these preferences at a massive global scale will be very difficult.
  3. Through scientific advances and technology innovation, we can produce alt-meat, alt-egg, and alt-dairy products that taste just as good or better — and cost the same or less — than their predecessors.

Their aim is to transform our food system to mitigate climate change and environmental degradation, feed our planet’s growing population, and secure a food supply that decreases the risk of zoonotic and antibiotic-resistant diseases.

You can dig into their essential resources on this topic, or dive straight into an excellent recent podcast with Sam Harris interviewing GFI executive director Bruce Friedrich and chief scientist Liz Specht to learn more about their work.

With this tournament, our aim is to develop forecasts that can be utilized across the multi-stakeholder alt-meat ecosystem to make more informed decisions, spanning across policymakers, entrepreneurs and businesses, investors, the academic community, media and the general public.

The tournament will unfold across three rounds, with a mix of calibration, long-term, and fortified essay questions in the following Alternative Protein topics:

  • Supply Chain and Technology
  • Investment
  • Markets
  • Consumer Adoption
  • Regulation and Policy
  • Antibiotic Resistance

In the first tournament round, opening today, we’ll explore topics like the capital invested in plant-based meat and cultivated meat companies, the retail market share of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy, the timing of regulatory approvals for cultivated meat, the potential imposition of consumption taxes on meat and dairy, and the risks and impacts of zoonotically spawned antibiotic-resistant infections.

If you’d like to boost good forecasts on these topics and the future of Alternative Protein, you can participate in a number of valuable ways:

  • Join the Alt-Protein Tournament and make forecasts! The starting prize pool is $1,000.
  • Share your expertise, brainstorm forecasting questions, and update the community with the latest research in the Feeding Humanity Discussion Forum.
  • Increase forecaster rewards in the Alt-Protein Tournament by becoming a monthly Supporter of the Feeding Humanity Cause.
  • Reach out to researchers, experts, and activists within cause movements to enlist their help furthering a cause by generating new shared knowledge on the Metaculus platform

Forecasting Cause Supporters are people who choose to financially support a particular Forecasting Cause on Metaculus. Funds contributed by supporters increase the cause’s current tournament prize pool and also support operations for the cause and tournament.

We’ve been working hard to get the right building blocks in place in order to make our forecasting work on the platform even more relevant to real-world organizations making change. Last week we announced Forecasting Causes, a new Metaculus framework for collaborating with nonprofits and institutions working to support altruistic causes. Then, earlier this week we shared our updated tournament infrastructure.

There are so many ways that you can make a positive impact as a forecaster, thinker, question-asker, insight-seeker, data-wrangler, essay-writer, community-convener and more. We welcome you to join this community, and we’re looking forward to exploring the many exciting alt-protein discussions, forecasts, ideas, and essays that come out of this initiative over the next two years. We warmly invite you to join us in cultivating this cause!