Stay Classy, Eat Cultured Meat
What is cultured meat?
Cultured meat, in short, is meat grown outside of an animal's body that does not require slaughter. It’s real meat and it goes by many names; clean meat, cultivated meat, cell-cultured meat, cellular agriculture and lab-grown meat.
Cultured meat is a rapidly growing market segment that sprung up alongside the increased demand for plant-based products. This product is generating global hype from Silicon Valley to Israel and investors and innovators alike have their eyes on this space. The products are not able to be sold yet in a commercial market anywhere besides Singapore, but are pending FDA and EU approval.
How does the process of making cultured meat work?
Let’s break it down.
It all starts with some kind of starter cells (either primary cells or stem cells) and FYI for all of our plant-based friends, all of the sources are more or less humane even if some of them are not vegan. These can be taken from a cell bank, tissue sample, fresh piece of meat or other sources.
Primary cells make it easier to produce certain types of meat, aka the kind of tissues that they came from, whereas stem cells, can be turned into any kind of meat or fat. The cell needs to be either selected (primary cells) or directed (stem cells) to make a certain type of meat called a “cell line”. Once the cell line is selected the cells need to be given a medium to grow into and around; this is called a scaffold. These scaffolds allow the meat to mimic muscle structures and different cuts of meat. Scaffolds can be created out of many different materials but the most sustainable appears to be soy, gelatin and mushroom protein.
Why eat, or at least support, cultured meat?
Here are some cultured meat stats from CE Delft Circa the GFI:
Can reduce the climate impact of meat by 92%
Reduce air pollution by up to 93%
Use up to 95% less land
Use up to 75% less water
No antibiotics, hormones, and “pink slime” are needed to make this product and it’s also technically considered to be Halal.
The inclusion of information on cultured meat in many plant-based publications has drawn scrutiny from plant-based eaters who do not agree with the production of this product. Why? Well, because they wouldn’t eat it. Let’s stay classy friends. Don’t hate on cultured meat. This product isn’t really for vegans but that’s ok. Vegans still make up less than 10% of the global population. This takes huge amounts of animals out of the slaughterhouse if it works and also saves the land from being deforested, either for animal feed or grazing land. If we need a big change to happen fast, that means continuing to make sustainable alternatives to traditional meat that appeal to meat-eaters.
Is cultured meat sustainable and accessible?
Not quite yet, but we are getting there. Stay tuned for more updates.
Some of the major roadblocks facing the space are limited and expensive production equipment, the need for the creations of sustainable growth mediums and serums and the understanding of how to produce all varieties of meat. Price parity with traditional meat is not yet possible, but again, the industry is in motion. If you support animal welfare, even if you are a vegan, let’s give this new food tech the support it deserves.