A few years ago I caught wind about something called cultured meat. No, this meat doesn’t have a high education level or distinct taste (apparently it just tastes like regular meat), but for a long time it did come with a hefty price tag until just recently. Food based bio-tech company Mosa Meat has had a busy seven years since they unveiled their lab-grown meat product in 2013.
Their cultured beef is real meat, grown from cow stem cells. The stem cells are taken via biopsy of the muscle of an anesthetized cow. The stem cells allow the animal to make new muscle tissue when the animal is hurt. Within the growth process from cow cells to ground beef, the stem cells are incubated with something like a growth serum—and they do grow, indeed. One sample from one cow can grown up to 80 million strands of muscle fibre (or 80,000 quarter pounders). Put next to the comparison of a slaughtered cow, which produces between 1,200 – 2,000 burgers, this is an alarming amount.
Mosa Meat claims that their burgers taste much like the real thing, and won’t stop tweaking the process until they are completely like the butchered alternative. Of course, there’s a catch: one burger costs around $10 to produce, but the company has hopes of reducing the price as they go into commercial production. That said, I know many people who would like to cut down on meat because of the animals and environment, but just can’t seem to sacrifice the taste. I’m betting some would pay a fairly decent price to be able to eat a burger without the guilt of knowing they were responsible for its death. Does cultured meat solve their problem?
A few weeks ago Luxemburg’s Blue Horizon Ventures invested $55 million in the company to help expand their factory in order to provide meat alternatives for all of Europe. Aside from it being an extremely interesting concept, why is lab-grown meat so important? And what does it mean for vegans?
Mosa Meat claims they are doing this for the environment. Despite the effort many of us are making to vegan, our world’s population is expected to increase to over 9 billion by 2050, meaning that as of now, there is a projected increase of 70% in demand for meat products. With that said, there is no way we can keep up with this demand without completely destroying the planet through the deforestation, greenhouse gases and global warming associated with factory farming. And unfortunately, not enough people are going vegan.
Cultured meat uses up to 99% less land and 96% less water than factory farming. So you can see why this form of meat is so important. On their official website, Mosa states that “because cultured meat is produced in a clean environment, there is no need to use any antibiotics at all. Cultured meat is also free from artificial growth hormones that are sometimes used to make livestock grow faster, and does not involve any genetic modification.”
In terms of veganism, this doesn’t change much for us. But despite being vegan, so far, from what I know about the company, I wholeheartedly support it. We are not doing enough to reverse the damage we are causing this planet, and Mosa Meat seems like one of the solutions to this problem. Does this mean vegans will eat meat again? I actually think there will be quite a few vegans who switch to this product once it is launched commercially.
The vast majority of vegans abstain from consuming animals because of 1) harm to animals, 2) negative environmental impact, and 3) negative health impact. While avoiding all three of these major reasons, Mosa Meat bridges the gap between carnivores and vegans. There are a lot of people who just aren’t ready to be vegan, cultured meat comes an an answer to that problem.
Mosa isn’t the only company to be doing this. Higher Steaks is another food-based bio-tech company working on growing pork from blood samples taken from pigs. They are aiming at creating pork products including bacon, which I’m sure will lure a few vegans to try the cultured product if it means no animals were harmed in the making of it.
What about you, would you try cultured meat?
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Photo: Courtesy of Mosameat.com