In recent years, you've likely heard some buzz surrounding lab-grown meat — scientists have been working hard to find cruelty-free ways to emulate burgers, steaks, and other animal products, sans the abusive meat industry, but with the same authentic taste. And while it sounds like a somewhat promising endeavor, the name leaves many of us wondering what is lab-grown meat is, how exactly it's made, and if it is actually vegan.
Now that lab-grown meat is starting to gain traction on a global scale, it could ultimately be one of many answers to lowering society's environmental impact. Keep reading for more on this cruelty-free culinary phenomenon.
What is lab-grown meat, and how is it made?
Lab-grown meat, also known as "clean meat" or "cultured meat," is made from harvesting living animals' muscle cells, according to CulturedBeef.org. The cells are taken to a lab, where they're fed and incubated, eventually multiplying into muscle tissue, which is most commonly the main component of the meat many people around the world consume far too frequently. But if grown in a lab, it won't support the unjust meat industry that's contributing exponentially to the ongoing climate crisis.
Biologically, lab-grown meat is comprised of the same exact tissue that comes from an animal, though supposedly, no animals are actually harmed in the process. In addition to lab-grown meat being cruelty-free and lower impact, many also praise the fact that it provides cleaner, drug-free meat to those who choose to eat it. If taken from a healthy, hormone-free animal, the cells won't be contaminated with unhealthy hormones and additives that plagues most nonorganic meat.
Scientists are still tinkering with lab-grown meat to lower production costs, and therefore retailer costs, according to Business Today. But a variety of companies are looking to delve into the lab-grown meat business. Eat Just created a cell-based chicken nugget that retails for $.50 each in Singapore, while other major brands like Memphis Meats and even Tyson are toying with joining the lab grown meat industry with cell-based chicken, beef, and pork. A startup called WildType is even developing lab-grown fish.
Where is lab-grown meat available?
As previously mentioned, lab-grown meat was available for retail for the first time in Singapore in December 2020, when Eat Just released its first cell-based chicken nuggets for $.50 a pop, according to The Guardian. This made waves in the world of lab-grown meat, but many in other parts of the world were wondering when it would be more widely available.
Now, though, it's available in certain parts of the U.S. As per VegNews, it's now available for home delivery in California, due to a partnership between Eat Just and delivery platform Foodpanda. Customers will be able to choose from three dishes made with GOOD Meat chicken (a subsidiary of Eat Just), including: Chicken & Rice, Katsu Chicken Curry, and Chicken Caesar Salad. The partnership is expected to spread across California by mid-May, and potentially more in the foreseeable future.
Is lab-grown meat vegan?
Whether you decide to abide by a plant-based diet for health reasons, for ethical reasons, or for personal preference, lab-grown meat may or may not be something you'd like to partake in. Because it's composed of the cells that come from living animals, many vegans and vegetarians wouldn't consider eating lab-grown meat, but it's entirely up to the individual.
Either way, we still suggest you offer Beyond and Impossible Burgers at your next cook-out — the animal-free folks in your life still might not be open to this once it's more widely available.
This article, originally published on April 23, 2021, has been updated.