Up until now, plant-based food companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Quorn have almost singlehandedly worked to lessen the impacts of industrial animal agriculture.
Supermarket shelves and fast food restaurants across the US are serving up vegan burgers and meatballs and plant-based chicken nuggets are showing consumers there is an alternative to relying on animal-based protein.
But a quiet revolution is also taking place in labs, where scientists are working to cultivate meat and seafood grown from cells, with the potential to reduce demand for industrial animal agriculture even further.
Here’s how the process works: Stem cells are taken from the muscle of an animal, usually with a small biopsy under anesthesia, then they’re put with nutrients, salts, pH buffers, and growth factor and left to multiply. Finessing the technology and getting the cost to an affordable level is happening at a slower pace than the plant-based industry, but a number of start-ups are nevertheless aiming to get their products on the market soon.
Cell-based meat (also known as cultured, cultivated, slaughter-free, cell-cultured, and clean meat) could be a common sight in supermarkets across the west in the next three years, according to the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto. California-based Memphis Meats made headlines for its world-first cell-based meatballs four years ago, and is currently building a pilot plant to produce its cultured beef, chicken, and duck on a bigger scale – with plans to launch more plants around the world.
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