Animal products have always played a role in human consumption. The increasing population and global demand for animal products creates a growing strain on our resources. Raising huge numbers of animals for food poses environmental, health, and animal welfare challenges. Learn about some of the ways scientists have been working to solve this problem in new and unique ways,
This is arguably the more controversial of the two examples in this article. At first blush many will have a feeling of repulsion toward the concept, but if this can be cost-effective, scalable, eco-friendly, and as good as the “real” thing, why not get on with at least trying it? (This writer is certainly open to the whole idea, and enthusiastically so, as vegetarianism is not for me.)
One of the companies that is slated to hit the market first, Just For All (formerly Hampton Creek), recently unveiled their clandestinely developed technology that enables the growth of what it referred to as “clean meat.” If one can take their optimistic projections seriously, we may be able to feast on their “chicken” as soon as this year, which would place them well in front of the competition. The team at Just For All have been working for about a year on their chicken-like product, along with researching how to scale up the production of their clean meat using an eco-friendly and cost-effective source of plant nutrients which are necessary for fueling the meat cell growth. According to the company, this will allow for the production of meats and seafood that are at least 10 times more efficient than traditional methods. (Imagine how a restaurant chain might save on food costs in the near future…) The first lab meat will hail from the “avian” family, aka chicken, though they also plan on eventually marketing their versions of beef, pork, and seafood.
Lining up behind Just For All are Cultured Beef, which hopes to make their engineered beef patties available in 2020 and Memphis Meats, which will offer lab-grown chicken nuggets, slated to hit store shelves in 2021. It’s impressive to note that a lab-grown beef patty had a staggering $325,000 price tag back in 2013, but by 2015 it had dropped to just 11 dollars; that’s still a bit expensive but certainly in the realm of possibility for, say, an upscale, avant garde eatery.
In an earlier article we discussed in depth the growing trend towards plant-based meat. Protein sourced from plants, (decreasingly so from soy, which has its own problematic issues), will likely be making a big impact this year. Simply put, protein sourced from vegetables and mushrooms is both healthier and far easier on the environment. As researchers work out how to make it all deliciously happen, even die-hard carnivores are finding themselves to be surprisingly satisfied by many of these meat alternatives. A tasty case in point is the Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger patty that not just looks like the real deal, but smells, tastes, and has a similar texture to real ground beef. It even sounds real with that authentic “sizzle” on the grill and, most remarkably to me, it “bleeds”.
The environmental factors alone make it unlikely that this trend will not continue. The recent announcement that Virgin Airlines billionaire Richard Branson will be investing in Memphis Meats, adds additional legitimacy and sustainability to the endeavor.