Lab meat

As a concept, lab meat, also known as fake meat is manufactured in a laboratory that does not involve the slaughter of livestock in any way. It is certainly nothing new, however, a number of recent trends have seen the topic return to the minds of both farmers and consumers with increasing regularity. There was a time where the very idea of “artificial meat” would have been unthinkable. But at the same time, here we are, living in a reality where this type of culinary trend is very much a reality.

Why Fake Meat, Why Now?

In 2013, a Dutch scientist named Mark Post created the first lab-grown beef burger from a serum taken from an unborn cow. That serum was then grown with a small amount of calf’s blood into what is now commonly called laboratory meat, clean meat or synthetic meat depending on who you’re talking to.

Five years ago, that burger cost roughly $350,000 to make – certainly nothing to keep farmers up at night. However, in the time since that number has already fallen to about $5,000. Post thinks that he can reduce costs further to about $80 per kilogram.

The important thing to understand is that Mark Post is not alone in his efforts. As costs keep dropping and quality keeps increasing, fake meat could very well pose a significant threat to “traditional” farming sooner rather than later.

The Benefits of Lab Meat

In addition to the fact that lab meat brings with it zero animal cruelty, it also comes with a wide range of additional benefits that are far too important to ignore. For starters, it offers less saturated fat than its traditional counterparts – meaning that consumers will be healthier and almost certainly live longer if it becomes a regular part of their diet.

Likewise, fake meat uses no growth hormones. This is huge because the overuse of antibiotics in farming has been regularly called one of the biggest threats to human health to come along in a generation – and fake meat would almost single-handedly solve that issue. For the record, fake meat also comes with absolutely no bacterial contamination, too.

So when you consider all of the above, coupled with the fact that it will eventually be legitimately cheaper than conventional meat, you have something of a perfect storm on your hands in the best (and most delicious) way possible. But perhaps the most important benefit of all is that because fake meat requires 99% less land and five times less water than conventional meat, it could give people all over the world access to high-quality meat and a significantly reduced cost.

If you were looking for a major way to combat the fact that almost 11% of the planet’s population currently suffers from undernourishment, fake meat is one of the most promising ones to come along in quite some time.

What the Future May Hold

At this point, it’s safe to say that fake meat is far from a passing fad – even if it is not quite ready for prime time just yet. Experts agree that farmers will need to respond to this sooner rather than later, using any technique available to them to differentiate their premium cuts of meat from their lab-grown alternatives.

But at this point, one thing is very much for certain: when you consider how far fake meat as a concept has come in just the last five years, it’s exciting to think about what the next five may hold. In an era where chefs are already experimenting with meat-free menus and formerly meat-loving cities like Ghent in Belgium are quickly becoming the vegetarian capital of Europe, there is very much a market for something that offers all the same tastes of meat with a fraction of the potential downsides.

Regardless of which side of this particular topic you come down on, it’s clear that this is one development we’re all going to want to keep a watchful eye on for the foreseeable future.

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