For some lab-grown meat is ‘scary science’, because that others a genuine bar for change. Rachel Khoo, believes it might be both


‘The kids’ menu’: in ~ the moment the lab-grown meat output is chicken nuggets, fish sticks, beef patties and the like – yet the ambitious is to grow a entirety chicken chest or a fillet steak. Photograph: AndreyPopov/Getty Images/iStockphoto
‘The kids’ menu’: in ~ the minute the lab-grown meat output is chicken nuggets, fish sticks, beef patties and also the like – yet the ambition is to flourish a whole chicken chest or a fillet steak. Photograph: AndreyPopov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Grant Howie likes to define himself together a “traditional sort of middle-aged meat eater”, i m sorry is to say the eats mainly beef or lamb sourced from ranches in his region. However he’s likewise not shy the a plant-based burger do from hemp, soy and pea isolates, hydrated with coconut oils and flavour powders. His vegetables daughter cajoled him right into making plant-based commodities at his brand-new Zealand-based firm Fishers Meat.

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But ask this longtime food executive to eat lab-grown meat and also Grant will dig in his heels. There is a border to his progressiveness. “It simply sounds also scary science,” the says.

Mention “lab-grown meat” or tissue-engineered, cultured or cultivated meat 2.0 and also food lovers of all ages will generally recoil. In 2019, united state food advocacy group the an excellent Food Institute carried out a consumer survey and cleared up on two desired terms: “safe” and also “clean”.

Clean won out, primarily because lab-grown meat is quiet meat – with the exact same protein and fat profiles. It’s not an eat-all-you-want type of product, i m sorry is what “safe” implies. Utilizing animal-sourced starter cells and a nutrient cocktail, carriers are precise growing animal muscle in regulated environments.

At the moment the calculation is chicken nuggets, fish sticks, beef patties and also the choose – but the ambitious is to flourish a whole chicken breast or a fillet steak. Therefore is cultured meat really a mass-market, environmentally sound food solve – together it’s to be touted – or just an additional food tech fad?

It is basically chicken meat get an impressive from cabinet culturesWhen I set out to do the podcast A Carnivore’s crisis I began with the question: have to meat and dairy die in order because that the earth to live? It ultimately led my producers Nicola Harvey and also Naima Brown come a activities in san Francisco where mung-bean eggs and cultured chicken nuggets are being created.

Just inc is a food tech agency that made a name for itself producing a scrambled egg replacement that is proper distinguishable from the genuine thing. Its newest food innovation is lab-grown nuggets. My producer Naima taste one and described the flavour together “just favor chicken”, which renders sense, due to the fact that it is basically chicken meat grown from cell cultures.

Just in ~ CEO Justin Tetrick claims food technologies favor lab-grown meat are strategy that’s necessary due to the fact that people are imperfect. “Not everyone is going to care around mitigating climate readjust over their breakfast,” the says. “But anyone does care around eating food that tastes really good and that’s affordable.” Affordable. It is important. In ~ the minute we don’t recognize if lab-grown meat will certainly be affordable or tasty as soon as made en masse, because it’s no in the market yet.


Rachel Khoo and her producer Naima Brown in the studio functioning on your podcast about the future the meat, A Carnivore’s Crisis. Photograph: AudibleAs because that taste: united state food writer Sophie Egan told us the nugget format “assumes that everyone desires to basically eat off the kids’ menu”. While in san Francisco make the podcast, we spoke through Sophie about an short article she’d published for eating Well in i beg your pardon she inquiry a selection of experts to comment on the potential services of lab-grown meat. Concerning the health implications, Dr frank Hu stated “too shortly to know”; on taste, cook Erica Holland-Toll commented the “it’s not going come deliver any kind of terroir”; and also as because that sustainability, the most pressing issue, Humane culture vice chairman Paul Shapiro said, “clean meat is better”.

Better due to the fact that early indications suggest the production of lab-grown meat will certainly be greatly slaughter-free, aside from livestock harmed or killed to source the Fetal Bovine Serum that feeds the meat starter cells throughout the study phase. And also it won’t require the huge amounts of water, land, fertiliser and other inputs offered for conventional livestock farming. Therefore better, yet not perfect.

Like plenty of other food lovers, i’m concerned about the impact the food mechanism is having actually on the environment. We may think local and seasonal is best, or a plant-based citizens is much better than a grass-fed or lab-grown beef burger, however the conversations I had while making A Carnivore’s situation have persuaded me the the lever for readjust doesn’t start and end with you and also me in ~ the supermarket.

It requires huge food providers to change the means they operate and also supply the worldwide food system. So possibly the flurry of interest in lab-grown meat is a factor to it is in optimistic.

As one more food executive Rick walker told us, it provides sense that huge food and also meat companies like the phibìc American gigantic Tyson foods are investing in lab-grown startups, due to the fact that protein production will proceed to be financially rewarding regardless of whether it’s indigenous a beast or a petri dish. In spite of everything us know about its eco-friendly impacts, the worldwide demand because that beef is still rising.

Animal products are a luxury product, regardless of whether they come native the lab or the landIt’s easy to get caught up in the latest food trend. We are being marketed the article that in bespeak to conserve the world we should buy different protein products, yet ns truly think what we must be law is just buying less and using what us buy better, not buying what the huge food service providers tell us to.

When i was young I’d invest the summer months at mine grandmother’s dairy products in the Austrian Alps. For her, meat wasn’t an everyday thing. It to be a treat on a Saturday or Sunday. I think we must return to that. Pet products are a luxury product, regardless of even if it is they come from the laboratory or the land.

In so late 2019, together we to be in post-production ~ above the podcast, I travelled to Japan because that a job-related trip. There i tried the very finest wagyu beef in ~ Wagyu Mafia. That was favor nothing I’ve ever before tasted before: rich, buttery and also subtle in flavour. The finely marbled beef was offered paper-thin, as vulnerable sushi. The emphasis was top top a tiny slice the luxury; beef together a condiment, not a main course.

Recently simply Inc partnered with a Japanese wagyu agency to source cells to flourish perfectly marbled beef, without elevating or slaughtering an animal.

Perhaps as soon as served together a katsu sando, I’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference in between their lab-grown version and pasture-raised wagyu. However it’s every hypothetical. For now lab-grown beef is just another curiosity in the lengthy line of fashionable future foods.

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Those simply Inc’s chicken nuggets? at the moment, lock cost roughly $US50 come produce, each.