Burgers, ribs, fried chicken, and pork rolls are all staples of the western diet. However, the world’s growing consumption of meat has taken a huge toll on the biodiversity of animals and the environment as a whole.
A small percentage of the globe are switching their diets to a more plant-based diet as a way to combat the negative effects of meat consumption, however, this may not be enough.
A Meat Problem
Meat consumption across the globe in both developed and developing world is on the rise.
According to Slow Food, just in the second half of the 20th century, global meat consumption increased fivefold, growing from 45 million tonnes of meat consumed in 1950 to almost 300 million tonnes today. If not stopped, that number could double by 2050.
It makes sense economically. As more nations become wealthier the growing middle class will have more resources to purchase more meat-based solutions.
Environmentalists have warned that the world’s growing appetite for meat is not sustainable and could potentially wreak havoc on the world. So, what’s science potential solution? Lab-grown meat.
Now, this is not what you think it is and is far more appealing than it sounds. Scientists in the biotech world have found a way to create meat within a laboratory without harming any animals.
Whether you like it or not lab-grown meat could be in your favorite grocery store or restaurant in the next few years.
Don’t worry the meats supposedly has all the flavors and juices that you appreciate in real meat. So, it looks like you can have your burger and eat it too. Here is everything you need to know about lab-grown meat.
What is Lab-grown Meat?
Currently, there are several start-ups rushing into this growing market of lab-grown meats, eager to create food that rivals even some of your favorite dishes.
Backed by major players like Bill Gates and even agricultural company Cargill, these companies produce a host of your favorites including, beef, pork, poultry, and seafood.
How is it made?
Scientists first go about collecting a muscle sample from an animal. Then the technicians collect stem cells from the tissue, multiplying them dramatically and allowing them to differentiate into primitive fibers that then bulk up to form muscle tissue.
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Though the verdict is still out there, the people who have tried lab-grown meat say it is delicious and would have a hard time telling the difference between real livestock and something lab-grown?
Lab-grown Meat Will Cut Down on Water Usage
The wasting of water is a major issue in the Western World, but an even bigger issue in the production of meat.
According to the research, you could save more water by simply not eating the meat rather than not showering for six months. Lab-grown could help significantly reduce this issue
For starters, lab-grown meat is created in a laboratory meaning very little water is needed if any at all.
In a study published in Environmental Science and Technology, the study stated that “it is estimated that lab-grown meat, involves approximately 7–45% lower energy use (only poultry has lower energy use), 78–96% lower GHG emissions, 99% lower land use, and 82–96% lower water use depending on the product compared.”
“Despite high uncertainty, it is concluded that the overall environmental impacts of cultured meat production are substantially lower than those of conventionally produced meat.”
Mark Post Started the Lab-grown Meat Movement
Costing over €250,000 to produce, Mark Post from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and his team of technicians created the first lab-grown beef burger back in 2013.
The process has evolved quite a bit over the years but the team created the lab meat by producing very small strands of beef in standard tissue culture flasks and repeating this work several thousands of times.
The burger itself marked an important milestone for the world of cellular agriculture and was featured and tasted it on live television.
This research has laid the foundations for the lab-grown meat companies and has open the floodgates to the possibilities of potentially creating other food in the lab.
Lab-grown Meat Production Costs Are on the Decline
As expected, when something new arrives in the market, it is extremely expensive, however, this could all change as early as next year. When lab-grown meats hit the market, a single patty might set you back well over $300,000.
Now, as demand for the meats is on the dramatic rise and production costs is on the decline, experts are expecting costs to be as low as $10 a patty in 2020.
Grocery stores and restaurants have already been very vocal about adopting lab-grown meats.
Lab-grown Meat Cuts Greenhouse Gases
As expected, the production of lab-grown meats will cause a significant reduction in the need of livestock, which could potentially do wonders for the environment.
In a study published, by a team of scientists from Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam, they estimate that “cultured meat would require 7-45% less energy to produce than the same volume of pork, sheep or beef”.
Even more so, lab-grown meat would generate up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Now the question remains, would you be willing to try a lab-grown hamburger from your favorite restaurant?