When it comes to feeding earth’s ever-growing population, sustainability seems to be one of the biggest concerns. Whether predictions are made based on meat-eaters, vegetarians, or otherwise, there are fears about how food production will match demand without negatively impacting our oceans, animal populations and atmosphere.
Clean meat, which is grown in labs using stem cells, could be mass-produced in Australia by 2025. The first ‘clean meat’ patty was grown in 2013, and cost over $AU400,000, but with over 10 companies globally vying for the perfect sustainable patty, processes is rapidly improving and 1kg of lab-grown meat now costs closer to $AU6000.
Currently, only ground, or minced, meat products are able to be grown as real meat is made up of a complex structure of muscle cells, connective tissue, fat and blood cells, while lab-grown meat is based solely on muscle fibres. The aim is to include fat into the growth process to improve both the texture and flavour.
The nutrient mix used in the growing process can contain stem cells from animals, however the aim is not to use animal materials at all, and to lower costs. The serum that contains the stem cells can be synthetically made from plants but will need to be further refined before it is as efficient at the animal-based serum.
Studies suggest that a clean meat industry, compared to traditional farming, could result in up to 96% less greenhouse gas emissions, 96% less water and will require less energy.
While there is some concern from the livestock industry around the naming of the products, arguing they should not be called ‘meat’ or ‘dairy’, there is no denying there is a large demand for plant-based proteins.
According to Kristopher Gasteratos, CEO and founder of Cellular Agriculture Society, an international lobby group backing the cellular agriculture sector, those who only eat cultured meat will be known as ‘neomnivores’.
So what do you think – will you be a neomnivore?