Climate change and global warming are some of the big topics that dominate headline in recent times. The discussion about sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint has given way to innovation to achieve these goals. Livestock is one of the major contributors to global greenhouse emissions. Currently, it takes nearly 2000 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain and more just to produce one pound of beef. So companies have turned to new technology that can take plants and turn them into products that look, taste, feel, and even cook like real meat however don’t count out the cow just quite yet.

In the battle for sustainability, the increase in options for meat alternatives has been an instrumental step, especially for plant-based diets. However, even with the new innovative alternatives, there are still many who are unlikely to convert to a plant-based diet. With new technology and innovation, companies who are trying to introduce traditional meat products without the traditional environmental impacts. They are growing meat in laboratories, this may sound like science fiction but it is very much reality.

Lab-Grown Meat, Science Non-Fiction?

In a simplified explanation of how meat is grown in a lab, muscle cells are taken from a cow and placed into a bioreactor. The muscle cells then grow into muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is what we currently eat when we eat traditionally produced beef. The finished product is most commonly known as cultured or cultivated meat.

*A bioreactor is a container that is set to the ideal environment to rapidly grow organic tissue.

The Dilemma

Cultured meat is 20 times less harmful to the environment and tastes just like traditional meat. With these numbers, it seems like cultured meat may be a no-brainer however the numbers are also a major issue. Currently it costs thousands of dollars to create a single pound of lab-grown meat. Companies like Mosa Meat are confident that they can be bring the cost down to less than $10 per pound by 2022. The hope is that one day, in the near future, cultured meat may become cheaper than traditional meat.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle that cultured meat will need to clear is public and consumer perception. With current trends favoring organic and non-GMO foods, there may be some bias. With all of the pros of lab-grown meats, being lab-grown may also be its own downfall.

In spite of potential issues, cultured meats are progressing along and gaining support. Many experts are stating that they can be widely available as soon as 2022. In fact, in December of 2020, Singapore approved the first lab-grown meat, GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken by Eat Just, Inc. They have also partnered with a restaurant in Singapore, 1800, making their cultured chicken the first commercial sold cultured meat as well.

Photo by Rasmus Gundorff Saederup on Unsplash