Future of Food? Lab-grown Meat

World meat production is unsustainable. That’s why startups like Just or New Age Meats are reinventing the food industry with slaughterless meat grown in laboratories. Sounds like a distant future? You can already buy it.

The Best “Worst” Thing

Meat is the best “worst” thing. It is delicious, nutritious and it has been a part of our diet since forever. On the other hand, conventional meat production creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars in the world while costing us lots of energy, water, and land. Humanity is currently keeping around 40 billion animals just for food. That’s just not sustainable anymore. But science has figured out a way to solve this global problem.

Humanity is currently keeping around 40 billion animals just for food.

The solution is growing meat in a laboratory, so-called cultured meat. Take just a handful of animal cells, feed and nurture it with nutrients, and you can grow a full steak in a matter of a few weeks. And the end result is very close to the ‘real’ thing. When it comes to taste, chefs from Just are already well experienced with plant-based substitutes of eggs, mayo or cookie dough. Other companies (Beyond Meat for example) are supplying chains like Burger King with realistic meat substitutes.

Clean Meat

Let’s take a look at the farming problems again and compare them. The numbers are very clear. Making meat from cells reduces emissions by 96% while using 99% less land, 96% less water, and 45% less energy. It’s very safe and healthy as well because there is no chance of contaminating meat with diseases like salmonella. And there’s also no antibiotics usage, no land degradation, no biodiversity destruction, no waste contamination, and no slaughter. And if the nutrition used during the growing process is plant-based, the meat can be considered vegan-friendly.

Taste the Future

Right now the cultured meat is still pretty expensive, but it’s quickly improving. Both New Age Meats and Just are working hard on expanding the production and thus lowering the price. In 2008 you could get a lab-grown burger for $1 million. Nowadays you can already buy a cultured beef steak for $50, and there are already prototypes that cost only $8. Industry experts predict that these prototypes are 3-4 years away from commercial sales.

Or you can taste a cultured chicken nugget yourself at Future Port Prague 2019! Vítor Santo, the director of cellular agriculture at Just, is one of the conference speakers and he is going to bring their new chicken nuggets for you to taste. Brian Spears, the founder and CEO of New Age Meats, will also be speaking at this year’s biggest futuristic event in the heart of Europe. Not only you can listen to their talks, but you’ll get the chance to meet them and talk about what interests you about the topic most.

And if you want to know more right now, take a look at this video about Ian the chicken, whose cells are the base of Just’s chicken nuggets. Or check out other interesting speakers of FPP19, there’s so much more besides cultured meat.