Lab-grown meat is a recent development with the potential to change industries all across the board for the better. In 2008, PETA offered 1 million dollar prize to the first company that could bring lab-grown chicken meat to market Producing the first lab-grown burger in 2013 cost $325,000. Two years, later this cost had dropped down to just $11. With continuing development at a fast pace, we can expect lab-grown meat to hit our shops very soon - and with commercialization, to potentially become wildly popular.
What is Lab-Grown Meat?
Lab-grown meat is made by taking an animal's stem cells, which are the building blocks of organs, and using them to create cultured meat. The cells are placed with amino acids and carbohydrates, which help them multiply quickly. After growing enough muscle fibers, the result is similar to ground beef. This burger is made without killing any animals. Several startups are already developing lab-grown beef, pork, poultry, and seafood, and the field is attracting millions in funding. In 2017, for instance, Memphis Meats took in $17 million from sources that included Bill Gates and agricultural company Cargill.
Benefits of Lab-Grown Meat
Lab-grown meat will largely reduce the number of animals being slaughtered, global gas emissions, water, toxic run-off, and free up land. Livestock is estimated to contribute approximately 15 percent of global gas emissions, and to use a large amount of water, while the toxins used in farming can run off into natural waterways, destroying habitats and wildlife in the process. Around 70 percent of the Amazon rainforest has already been cleared for grazing, and it is projected that cultured meat production will use 99 percent less land. Lab-grown meat helps the environment, reduces food waste, and saves animals from merciless slaughtering. Veganism can also potentially change with the commercialization of lab-grown meat since no animals would have died in the process to create a very close, if not yet identical, version of real meat from an animal.
Educating the consumer is a major part of lab-grown meat's success. When first hearing about lab-grown meat, consumers can be hesitant since it may sound more artificial and less healthy. Companies would need to convince consumers that they can eat protein grown in a laboratory.
One major company making strides to educate the consumer include Bistro In Vitro, a 'theatrical experience that invites you along into the potential future of lab-grown meat, because before we can decide if we ever want to eat lab-grown meat, we need to explore its impact on our food culture'. They are a fictitious restaurant warming up consumers to the idea of lab-grown meat and its impact on our food culture and environment.
Lab-Grown Meat Companies
Mosa Meat is one leading startup in lab-grown meat, as well as Memphis Meats, Israel's Future Meat Technologies, and about 30 other companies. Each startup has different twists on the concept, though the general idea is the same. Big meat companies like Tyson, Cargill and Bell Food Group have invested, as well as famous investors like Sergey Brin, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson.
As Matt Ball, a spokesperson for Good Food Institute said, "People don't eat slaughter meat because of how it is produced; they eat it in spite of how it is produced." The meat industry is taking up wild amounts of resources, and consumers have become more health-conscious and aware in recent years of the horrendous conditions in slaughterhouses. No one wants these animals to be mercilessly killed - we just don't have many better options besides going vegan, and not everyone is willing to make that lifestyle change. Lab-grown meats are expected to hit shelves by 2021. So, we can expect to see and try lab-grown meat very soon for ourselves!