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Vegan Startup Hampton Creek Joins Lab-Grown Meat Movement

By Nicole Caldwell

Lab-grown meat has a new contender claiming it will be the first to bring the product to the market. Except this company, unlike its competitors in the race to produce and sell “clean meat” grown in a petri dish, is a vegan brand. 

Hampton Creek, purveyors of Just Mayo, Just Dressing, Just Cookie Dough, and Just Cookies, has been carving out a name for itself since unveiling its first product, Beyond Eggs, in 2013. The company’s most popular product, Just Mayo, hit stores seven months later. Hampton Creek's products are considered a game-changer for both vegans and carnivores, as their products are often indistinguishable from their meat- and dairy-based predecessors. 

But if it seems strange that a vegan food company would be pursuing the distribution of a product that relies on animals (even if just on a single-cell level), that’s because to some people, it certainly is.

The end game of lab-meat is to end animal slaughter entirely.

While it’s unclear how many animals will endure unpleasantries and death during the testing and cellular extraction phase of lab-grown meat, the end goal is to not require any animal slaughter or breeding. In fact, this new product would only require one cell to make many billions of product, cut land use by 99 percent, and produce 90 percent less greenhouse gas. Theoretically that could work wonders to clean the planet up, significantly reduce rates of deforestation, and curb the amount of livestock on the planet being bred over and over, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

What the process will require, however, is a whole lot of ingenuity. For now, the lab-meat process involves taking a culture of stem cells from living animals, and putting them in a small container to produce muscle cells. To add some flavor and texture to the product, scientists are experimenting with artificial blood and fat, as well as 3-D printers to “build” steaks and burgers.