An Israeli company has just produced a small strip of lab-grown beef that costs only $50.
Those juicy beef steaks that many meat eaters regularly crave may well taste mouthwateringly delicious, but they come with a pretty large environmental footprint.
Red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken as well as 11 times more water. Beef production also leads to five times more greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the form of methane. Its environmental impacts are even more dire when compared to the growing of potatoes or wheat: beef requires 160 times more land than these other dietary staples while emitting 11 times more greenhouse gases.
The solution is then simple: we must stop producing beef. Either that, or we must start producing beef in an environmentally friendly manner.
Scientists have been trying to do just that by growing beef in the laboratory. A team of researchers in Israel have cultured “clean meat” by growing it in bioreactors from animal cells. To do so, there is no need for large swathes of pasture and animal feed during livestock production, which can be a great boon to the environment.
And if there is no need to raise live animals to get their meat, nor is there a need to slaughter them, which too is a great benefit. Chicken meat, duck or pork can also be produced in the lab employing the same technology.
The only drawback at the moment is that lab-produced clean meat is very costly and few consumers will be willing, or able, to fork over thousands of dollars for the benefit of dining on an environmentally “clean” steak. To reduce costs, some companies are now working on new manufacturing technologies that can make it far more cost-effective to grow fat and muscle cells in the laboratory and also produce lab-grown meat on a large enough scale.
In a breakthrough of sorts, an Israeli company has just produced a small strip of beef that costs only $50. Reportedly, though, the taste of the lab-grown beef, which boasts a muscle structure similar to that of beef obtained from live animals, still needs to be finetuned to suit more discriminating palates.
“It’s close and it tastes good, but we have a bit more work to make sure the taste is 100% similar to conventional meat,” explains Didier Toubia, co-founder and chief executive of Aleph Farms in Israel. “But when you cook it, you really can smell the same smell of meat cooking.”
You had better watch your plate: clean meat might soon be arriving on it.