Vegan companies have long tried to replicate the texture and flavor of animal flesh with plant-based ingredients, but there is now a movement to create “real” meat in the laboratory without cruelty. This idea isn’t new and was suggested by Winston Churchill as early as 1931, but it only gained momentum in recent years when the technology to realize it became available.
The first public trial of lab-grown meat, also known as clean meat, occurred in 2013 when a “clean burger” was cooked and eaten at a news conference in London. It was designed by Dr. Mark Post of Maastricht University and was composed of numerous cultured muscle cells. Since then, cultured meatballs, fish fillet, and poultry have debuted and over two dozen startups focused on lab-grown animal products have been launched.
The process of creating clean meat begins with animal cells, usually embryonic and stem cells which can develop into different varieties. The cells are placed in a culture that fosters their proliferation and development into muscle tissue, fat, and other flesh elements. They are then scaffolded into meat’s three-dimensional composition. The basic process for creating clean meat is well understood. Research is now focused on streamlining and making it cheap enough for mass production.
Meat has taken center stage but there are also efforts to culture other products. A company called Perfect Day processes milk’s whey and casein proteins via bacteria and Modern Meadow produce leather from cultured skin tissue. It can replicate the skin of many species including cows, crocodiles, and ostriches.
Clean meat products have infinite potential to reduce animal suffering and environmental destruction. Their development isn’t a silver bullet for eliminating animal agriculture’s cruelty, but they are definitely a valuable tool with high prospects.
What You Can Do
1) We don’t need to wait for clean meat’s mass production in order to act against animal cruelty. We can all halt our support of cruel industrial farming straight away by adopting a plant-based diet. Learn how and where to begin by downloading our free starter guide today: idausa.org/VegGuide
2) Consider lending your expertise to the clean meat sector. If you work in finance, you can advocate investment in cultured animal product startups. If you are a scientist you can assist them with research and development.