Lab-grown Meat Could Help Save the Planet

Technology unveiled recently in London may help reduce the catastrophic environmental effects of animal agriculture and also feed billions more people than our current food production system. Feeding crops to animals used for food is highly inefficient as compared with eating those crops directly. Coupled with the massive water and land usage as well as methane produced by animals, many experts agree that animal agriculture as it is currently practiced is not sustainable.

As incomes are growing around the world, the demand for meat is too. One idea for satisfying this increasing demand without causing massive environmental damage is to grow the meat without the animal. The lab-grown burger recently taste-tested in London cost $330,000 to produce, however prices are bound to drop drastically as the technology improves and becomes more widespread. Google co-founder and entrepreneur Sergey Brin made the investment in the research and development which was performed by physiologist Mark Post.

As for the taste, food writer Josh Schonwald said “I would say it is somewhere on the spectrum between a Boca Burger [soy burger brand] and McDonald’s. The absence of fat makes a big difference. It has the texture, which I was not expecting. It was like an animal-protein cake.” The second tester, Austrian food researcher Hanni Rutzler, said “The surface of the meat was crunchy — surprisingly. The taste itself was as juicy as meat can be, but different. It tastes like meat, not a meat substitute like soya or whatever.”

Post says the taste will improve, surpassing that of plant-based meats and the price will eventually drop below conventionally farmed beef. He estimates that lab-grown meat will take 10 to 20 years to become available on the commercial market.

Laurie Johnston is a graphic designer and the co-owner of Two Trick Pony. She advocates for animals and healthy food choices and blogs for Spirit of Change Magazine.

photo via Flickr