Coming to a grocery store nearyou.
Lab-Grown Meat Will Save The Earth
As someone who was named after the act of killing and eating animals, that’s a scary prospect. I love meat. I’d rather die than have to eat seitan for the rest of my life. Luckily, a team of scientists is working to grow meat in laboratories and market it to consumers in an affordable, sustainable way.
Those scientists — led by a Dutch physiology professor — grew a synthetic hamburger from a cow’s stem cells in a petri dish in 2013. The burger was cooked and eaten in London that year.
Here’s a photo of it:
They did it by extracting stem cells from cow muscle tissue — a process that doesn’t harm the animal at all — and sticking those cells in a test tube. Then, they added nutrients to get the cells to multiply and differentiate, and then added fat to make the burger juicier (otherwise it would be too muscle-y, and no one wants that).
The bad part is that the five-ounce burger cost the group about $350,000 to produce. Yes, that’s an absurd amount of money to create one piece of fake meat. But at the time, the whole growing-meat-from-stem-cells process was still the stuff of science fiction — a mad experiment — so the costs were high.
But the Dutch professor in charge of this experiment, Mark Post, said in 2015 that his team had already cut the cost down by 80%, and plans to lower it even more — meaning one day these futuristic burgers will cost less than $10, making it affordable to regular people who want an alternative to beef.
Post has said he and his team could reach that point as soon as 2020.
Beef — all meat — would be hard to give up. It’s delicious, and it’s a crucial part of holidays and other American traditions. But we’ll have to cut down on our consumption if we care about the planet. The carbon footprint of a single burger is huge. Livestock and their byproducts account for over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide — that’s more than what all the cars in the world produce combined.
Look at it this way: Right now, we get about 100 burgers out of a single cow. Post says that — if the lab-grown beef process can be streamlined — one cow could make 100 million burgers. If the group can grow the beef tissue in a reactor half the size of an Olympic swimming pool, it would make enough hamburgers to feed 20,000 for an entire year. He’s speaking theoretically, but those numbers give a sense of the incredible potential of this process.
The best part? Eating Frankenburgers means we won’t have to switch to seitan.