Ready to Meet the New Lab-Grown Meat?

Anita Elam

An article by Anita Elam.

Anita is an IT Professional Programmer Analyst and former United States Navy personnel. She has a passion for writing, especially poetry, and sharing tidbits of information that she has learned along the way. Find Anita via Facebook or LinkedIn.


Beyond the animal suffering issues of factory farming, our consumption of meat and dairy has a great environmental impact on the planet, due to the resources needed for production and the waste produced by these factory farms.

According to a study by Chatham House, livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a bigger contributor to global warming than all the cars, trucks, planes and boats in the world.  Meanwhile, clearing land to graze animals is a major contributor to deforestation.  In just a single year, the expansion of soy farms (used primarily as cattle feed) in South America was responsible for clearing more than 4,500 square miles of rainforest.

As a way to counter this environmental impact and reduce the need for animal slaughter, scientists are creating what has been generally termed “lab-grown meat” or “cultured meat”.

In a Washington Post article titled “This is the future of Meat”, it states that in a 2011 study, Cultured meat has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than regular beef, pork, and even poultry production.  It also requires far less land and water than all three.

Professor Mark Post is part of the faculty at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.  Two years ago, Post’s team of researchers presented their first major discovery in the form of a five-ounce hamburger patty, which was created in a lab, but turned out to be very similar to hamburger on supermarket shelves.

According to this Newsweek article, In 2008, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals offered a $1 million reward to the group that could produce meat in commercially viable quantities, and that started a near–civil war in the organization.  The process of growing meat right now relies on fetal bovine serum, that comes from unborn cows, a hurdle that all producers will have to overcome to truly cut ties with the meat industry, but that breakthrough seems to be on the horizon.

Cultured Beef is created by painlessly harvesting muscle cells from a living cow.  Scientists then feed and nurture the cells so they multiply to create muscle tissue, which is the main component of the meat we eat.  It is biologically exactly the same as the meat tissue that comes from a cow.

According to the Newsweek article by Grant Burningham, Lab-Grown Beef Will Save the Planet—and be a Billion-Dollar Business.  On January 31, the team behind a young biotech startup gathered around what may be the world’s most expensive meatball and got ready to take a bite of their product—real, edible beef from a lab, not a cow—for the first time.  At $18,000 a pound, the meat produced by Memphis Meats probably won’t be on your table anytime soon.  But in a few years, it might change the world.  Although cultured meat is cellularly identical to meat from a cow there should be no conflict for those who have “moral or philosophical qualms.”


But how does lab-grown meat taste?

Hanni Ruetzle, a researcher at Future Food Studio, gave the burger the following review:

“There is really a bite to it, there is quite some flavour with the browning.  I know there is no fat in it so I didn’t really know how juicy it would be, but there is quite some intense taste; it’s close to meat, it’s not that juicy, but the consistency is perfect.  This is meat to me… It’s really something to bite on and I think the look is quite similar.”

Are YOU ready to Meet the New Meat?