While the rat race to serve vegan burgers continues across major fastfood chains all over the world, the innovation has not stopped at crowd pleaser level and in recent years new “meat” has been created. Slowly but surely finding its way to our plate, closer to it every day.
What started with a popular not-fully pioneering burger cultured by Max Post at the University of Maastricht (NL) and soon went viral with the Beyond Burger and the. Subsequent Impossible Burger has turned into a whole new niche of meat creation, which aims to revolutionize how meat is made and its carbon offset.
Due to the need of animals to eat, a lot of the produce we cultivate on our planet is made only to feed the animals which humans later eat. In general, it is estimated the whole food production cycle accounts for up to a quarter of carbon emissions. Animal-based foods have a much bigger carbon footprint than plant-based food, of which most we produce is made to feed the animals later eaten.
Leaving aside the topic of “meat is murder”, it is safe to say that animal-based food is unsustainable for the future of our planet and thus ourselves.
Luckily, some creative people have taken up the challenge to create “the new meat”, which will not only reduce the carbon footprint but also — hopefully — eventually taste as well as the “original” one.
Unlike many of the vegan “ersatz” varieties.
While the “first lab-grown burger” was unveiled in 2013 by Max Post at the Maastricht University, the academic wasn’t the first to create artificial meat. That honor goes to Oron Catts and Dr Ionat Zurr who ate an artificial steak in 2003, as part of their Disembodied Cuisine exhibition. The steak was grown from frog skeletal muscle. An earlier prototype, grown in 2000, was not eaten.
The chicken, which is grown from cells retrieved from a cell bank and with plant-based nutrients, still used foetal bovine serum during the process — removed before consumption — but this would be replaced with a plant-based serum in future iterations of the product.
For the early release, the “meat” is grown in smaller bio reactors, resulting in a higher cost than its traditional equivalent but scale — and the use of larger bio reactors — is expected to lower the cost of Just Eat’s cultured chicken below that of
Just Eat aren’t the only one already serving cultured chicken, as Israel’s Supermeat has opened a tasting restaurant where it offers its guests free samples of its artificial chicken meat.
While currently Just Eat is licensed only in Singapore, it represents a big step for the future evolution of the industry as the first certification may be a bigger hurdle than subsequent ones. Additionally, Singapore is also a vibrant investing hub with an active innovative university itself.
Just Eat have no plans to stick to chicken — and eggs — only. Like most they also intend to crack the golden egg and deliver the future perfect cultured steak. A mission for which they aim for the nec plus ultra and closed a partnership to produce cultured Toriyama Wagyu steak, which will be distributed through the Awana Food Group.
I’m not so sure yet about the success chances of that elusive Wagyu steak — artificial Wagyu — but I will not hesitate to try out the cultured chicken when given the opportunity. It can’t be worse than the various vegan alternatives I’ve tried over the years.
How about you? Are you ready for fake real meat?
Posted with STEMGeeks